The Supremes and the Four Tops
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1971)
- Renaldo Benson (RIP 2005) -- vocals
- Cindy Birdsong -- vocals
- Abdul Fakir -- vocals
- Lawrence Payton (RIP 1997) -- vocals
- Levi Stubbs (RIP 2008) -- vocals
- Jean Terrell -- vocals
- Mary Wilson -- vocals
- The Four Tops (Renaldo Benson, Abdul Fakir, Lawrence Payton,
and Levi Stubs)
- The Supremes (Cindy Birdsong, Jean Terrell, and Mary Wilson)
Rating: *** 3 stars
Country/State: Detroit, Michigan
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 3377
Sadly the third and final Supremes - Four Tops collaboration was largely overlooked by critics and the buying public.
To my ears 1971's "Dynamite" has always sounded like an odds-and-ends compilation. That's underscored by the fact these ten tracks found the groups working with a myriad of producers including the team of Frank Wilson and Bobby Taylor, Taylor on his own, Johnny Bristol, and Joe Hinton. The set also leaned heavily on a mixture of popular and Motown covers. Finally, at least one of the songs (a cover of Stephen Stills' 'Love the One Your With') wasn't even a collaboration, rather added to the track listing to pad the running time. It certainly wasn't the finest Motown album ever released, but these folks were simply too talented to be overlooked. Levi Stubbs and Jean Terrell may not have had the same chemistry of some of the other Motown couples, but the pair had killer voices and when given quality material like 'The Bigger Your Love (The Harder You Fall)' and 'Good Lovin' Ain't Easy To Come By', they came close. Busy with their move to Los Angeles, Motown management seemed to have little interest in the collection. Even though there were at least six potential singles, the company didn't even bother with a 45 in the US.
"Dynamite" track listing:
1.) It's Impossible (Armando Mazanero - Sid Wayne) - 3:20 rating: ** stars
Well, give Levi Stubbs and Jen Terrell kudos for trying their best to rescue this vapid slice of MOR schlock, but it remained vapid and not even Stubbs scatting segment could save the tune. (The song was released as a single in Brazil.)
2.) The Bigger Your Love (The Harder You Fall) (Jerry Marcellino) - 2:59 rating: **** stars
One of the album's most radio-friendly performances, just when you thought Levi was going to steal the show, Cindy Birdsong and Mary Wells turned in the sweet refrain. Add in Dennis Coffey's fuzz guitar and a stunning James Jamerson bass line and it was hard to believe Motown didn't tap this one as the single.
3.) Hello Stranger (Barbara Lewis) - 2:57 rating: *** stars
Barbara Lewis clearly owns 'Hello Stranger', but this version wasn't a bad also-ran. Once again Stubbs and Terrell exhibited a nice chemistry on the song. Yeah, the arrangement was a little too West coast for my tastes and the electric sitar was irritating, but I still enjoyed the performance.
4.) Love the One You're With (Stephen Stills) - 3:30 rating: **** stars
No Four Tops on this one ... In spite of that, Terrell turned in a killer performance. Far better than you would have ever expected. YouTube has a clip of The Supremes performing the song on a 1971 Flip Wilson segment. It looks and sounds like they were singing live on top of backing tracks, though the audience appears to have all died in their seats: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9ESK28DTsM
5.) Good Lovin' Ain't Easy To Come By (Nickolas Ashford - Valerie Simpson) - 2:20 rating: **** stars
Nothing will replace the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell (Valierie Simpson) version, but this cover came close. In spite of the crushing arrangement, Stubbs, Terrell, and company somehow managed to make themselves heard. Shame producers Frank Wilson and Bobby Taylor didn't tone it down a tad.
This one was tapped as a single in New Zealand.
1971's 'Good Lovin' Ain't Easy To Come By' b/w 'Melodie' (Motown catalog number TMM 825)
1.) Melodie (Deke Richards - Jerry Marcellino - Mel Larson) - 3:05 rating: **** stars
Stubbs basically stole the show on this one, reducing everyone else to back-up status. Another track that had everything needed for top-40 success.
2.) If (David Gates) - 3:15 rating: *** stars
I've never been a big fan of the Bread original so my expectations for this cover were pretty low. Ad while this wasn't y pick for standout performance, I will tell you this slowed-down, Gospel-tinged cover wasn't bad.
3.) If I Could Build My Whole World Around You (Harvey Fuqua - Johnny Bristol - Vernon Bullock) - 2:40 rating: *** stars
Another Motown classic that's owned by Gaye-Terrell ...
4.) Don't Let Me Lose This Dream (Aretha Franklin - Ted White) - 2:30 rating: **** stars
Their Aretha cover made for the album's most interesting performance. Never would have expected them to sound as good in a jazzy arrangement.
5.) Do You Love Me Just a Little Honey (Gladys Knight - Harvey Fuqua - Johnny Bristpl - Venon Bullock) - 3:45 rating: **** stars
Another track that would have benefited from a more restrained arrangement. I'd argue this was Terrell's finest moment on the collection.
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