The Supremes (Diana Ross and the Supremes)

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1961-63)

- Florence Ballard (RIP 1976) - vocals 

- Barbara Martin - vocals 

- Diana Ross - vocals 

- Mary Wilson - vocals


  line up 2 (1963-67)

- Florence Ballard (RIP 1976) - vocals 

- Diana Ross - vocals 

- Mary Wilson - vocals


  line up 3 (1967-70)

NEW - Cindy Birdsong - vocals (replaced Florence Ballard)

- Diana Ross - vocals

- Mary Wilson - vocals


  line up 4 (1970-72)

NEW - Lynda Lawrence - vocals (replaced Cindy Birdsong) 

NEW - Jean Terrell - vocals (replaced Diana Ross) 

- Mary Wilson - vocals


  line up 5 (1972-73)

- Lynda Lawrence - vocals 

NEW - Scherrie Payne - vocals

- Mary Wilson - vocals


  line up 6 (1973-74)

NEW - Cindy Birdsong - vocals 

- Lynda Lawrence - vocals 

- Scherrie Payne - vocals (replaced Jean Terrell) 

- Mary Wilson - vocals


  line up 6 (1976-77)

NEW - Susaye Greene -- vocals (replaced Cindy Birdsong)

- Scherrie Payne - vocals 

- Mary Wilson -- vocals





- The Bluebells (Cindy Birdsong)

- FLOS (Former Ladies of Motown)

- The Glass House (Scherrie Payne)

- Jean, Scherrie & Lynda

- Scherrie & Susaye (Scherrie Payne and Susaye Greene)

- Jean Terrell (solo efforts)

- Mary Wilson (solo efforts)

- Ernie Terrell & His Heavyweights (Jean Terrell)

- Ernie and Jean Terrell with the Heavyweights (Jean Terrell)


Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Reflections

Company: Motown

Catalog: MS-737

Year: 1968

Country/State: Detroit, Michigan

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (open and torn)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1322

Price: $10.00


In July 1967 Berry Gordy announced original member Florence Ballard had been dismissed from The Supremes.  That personnel shake-up barely slowed the group down.   Teamed with the songwriting and production team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland, their next studio release, 1968's "Reflections" was a somewhat of a haphazard compilation.   Introducing Ballard's replaced Cindy Birdsong, the album pulled together a mixture of previously recorded material (the earlier title track 45, 'In and Out of Love') and 'Love (Makes Me Do Foolish Things)'), along with new tracks featuring Birdsong.   In spite of the difficult background, the result was simultaneously one of The Supremes' best studio albums (well at least side one), as well as being the start of the group's long and painful commercial decline.  The other obvious change came in the form Motown's decision to shift the focus from The Supremes being a group entity to being a platform for Diana Ross.   Note the album credits - goodbye The Supremes and hello Diana Ross and the Supremes - Ross also got to write the liner notes..  Anyhow, the first half of the album was quite impressive, featuring a number of strong Holland-Dozier-Holland compositions that served to showcase Ross' new found visibility.  Even better was Brenda and Patrice Holloway's dark and ominous ballad 'Bah-Bah--Bah'.    In contrast, the second side of the album featured a series of throwaway pop tunes.  Remakes of hits like Jackie DeShannon's 'What the World Needs Now Is Love', and The Fifth Dimension's 'Up, Up and Away' were little more than filler that most folks only needed too hear once.  Even the lone Holland-Dozer-Holland original 'Love (Makes Me Do Foolish Things' was forgettable.  In fact, with the exception of a cover of Smokey Robinson's 'Misery Makes Its Home In My Heart', side two was almost entirely forgettable and could have passed for a Ross solo album, given the backing vocals were all but lost in the final production mix.  The cynic in me wonders if perhaps that was the plan. 


"Reflections" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Reflections   (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - Eddie Holland) - 2:49    rating: **** stars

The Supremes turn psychedelic ?  Well, judging by the goofy introduction and early use of a synthesizer on this one, maybe a little.   'Reflections' was reportedly written as an autobiographical commentary on Holland-Dozier-Holland's rapidly deteriorating relationship with Berry Gordy Jr. and the Motown organization.  It was also one of the last tracks recorded by Florence Ballard before she was dismissed from the group.  Musically it was an album highlight' a highly commercial, mid-tempo ballad clearly designed to spotlight Ross as leader of the group.  Beyond any doubt, Ballard and Mary Wilson were little more than background singers on this one.   Motown actually released this as a single before the album came out.   YouTube has a bunch of clips showing the trio performing the song (most lip-synching), including this one: :

2.) I'm Gonna Make It (I Will Wait For You)   (D. Dean - D. Lussier,) - 2:47    rating: **** stars

The morose title wasn't promising, but ' I'm Gonna Make It (I Will Wait For You)' was actually one of the album's hidden surprises showcasing some nice electric piano, an interesting song structure, some fantastic James Jamerson bass, and a surprisingly restrained Ross lead vocal.    

3.) Forever Came Today   (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - Eddie Holland,) - 2:59 rating: ** stars

Another track released as a single, 'Forever Came Today' has always struck me as being overdramatic and shrill.  The focus was again on Ross with the background singers left to screech along in an ungodly high register.  To my ears this one simply didn't sound like a Supremes song.  The buying public seemingly agreed given the tunes lukewarm sales.   Here's a live performance of the song from The Ed Sullivan Show (you can tell it's live because Ross blows the lyric in one spot and the hand claps are weak and lukewarm): \

4.) I Can't Make It Alone   (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - Eddie Holland) - 2:57    rating: *** stars

Another overly-dramatic ballad, but at least this one had a decent melody (complete with harpsichord).  fans rave about the performance.  Me, not so much.   

5.) In and Out of Love   (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - Eddie Holland) - 2:39   rating: *** stars

'In and Out of Love' was clearly one of the tunes written with an eye on commercial radio and that may be why this one doesn't do a great deal for me.  I know lots of Supremes fans adore this one, but to my ears the tune has always sounded stale, calculated, and almost supper-clubish.   YouTube has a clip of the Birdsong-Ross-Wilson line-up performing the tune on The Ed Sullivan Show:   

6.) Bah-Bah--Bah   (Brenda Holloway - Patrice Holloway) - 2:58    rating: **** stars

Certainly due in part to the fact it was written by the Holland-Dozier-Holland team, 'Bah-Bah-Bah' sounded radically different from most of the album.   Even the title was strange.  With a dark and disturbing aura, this was supposedly one of the first tracks Birdsong recorded with the group.  It's my choice as the standout performance.  


(side 2)

1.) What the World Needs Now Is Love   (Burt Bacharach - Hal David) - 2:50   rating: ** stars

Professional, but slightly supper-club-ish, their cover of the Bacharach-David tune didn't stray too far from the Jackie DeShannon hit.   Nothing here to recommend it   

2.) Up, Up and Away   (Jimmy Webb) - 2:30   rating: ** stars

Geez, talk about lowest common denominator cocktail jazz.  Makes The Fifth Dimension version sound like a slight of heavy metal.   Hideous.   

3.) Love (Makes Me Do Foolish Things) - 2:51   (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - Eddie Holland,) - 2:51 rating: ** stars

The long Holland-Dozier-Holland original on side two, 'Love (Makes Me Do Foolish Things' was a sluggish, slightly '50s-tinged MOOR-ish ballad that was amongst the most forgettable things they've ever written.   In case anyone was comparing, The Martha and the Vandellas version was better.  

4.) Then - 2:08   (Smokey Robinson - Bobby Rodgers- Warren Moore) - 2:08   rating: ** stars

Could have been a decent soul tune, it the lyrics hadn't been quite as cutesy and the arrangement hadn't been so MOR-ish.   

5.) Misery Makes Its Home In My Heart   (Smokey Robinson - Warren Moore) - 2:52     rating: **** stars

Nice Latin flavor on this one with Ross turning in one of her better vocals.   Interestingly the backing vocals don't sound like The Supremes, making you wonder if it might have been The Andantes.   

6.) Ode To Billie Joe   (Bobby Gentry) - 4:30   rating: *** stars

While you weren't going to forget Bobby Gentry's original, the cover was interesting for showcasing one of Ross' most soulful vocals.   You were never going to mistake her for a Doris Duke, Ann Peebles or Martha Reeves, but it was still in interesting change of pace.   I've never been able to hear the rest of the group on this one, leading me to speculate this was a true Ross solo effort. 



- 1967's 'Reflections' b/w 'Going Dow for the Third Time' (Motown catalog number MOT 1111 ) # 2 pop; # 4 R&B

- 1968's 'In and Out of Love' b/w 'I Guess I'll Always Love You' (Motown catalog number MOT 1116) # 9 pop

- 1968's 'Forever Came Today' b/w 'Time Changes Things' (Motown catalog number M1122) # 28 pop


Supported by the three singles and pages of publicity centering on the group's personnel shake-ups, the LP sold well, hitting # 2 on the  US pop charts.




Genre: soul

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Love Child

Company: Motown

Catalog: 670

Year: 1968

Country/State: Detroit, Michigan

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1417

Price: $12.00


The title track tends to attract all the attention and while it was a classic Supremes tune, 1968's "Love Child" had a lot more to offer.   With long-time Supremes producers Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland having left the Motown organization, The Supremes found themselves forced to work with a myriad of  Motown songwriters and producers including Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, Harvey Fuqua, Smokey Robinson, and Frank Wilson.   Virtually every one of the producers brought their "A" game to the sessions, most  bringing  original material as well.   The result was an album that sounded considerably more contemporary than some of their recent releases (1967's "The Supremes Sing Rodgers & Hart" or "Diana Ross & the Supremes Sing and Perform "Funny Girl"), but with so many "cooks" in the recording studio, the collection also had a slightly disjointed feel to it.  Clearly a transitional effort, by my count about half of the album was classic Supremes; a third was decent, and two tracks were abysmal.   Elsewhere, unless you were a hardcore Supremes fan with a set of golden ears, there was a good chance you didn't notice the other major change.   Once again Diana Ross handled all the lead vocals, but on several of the songs, including the album's second single ('Love Child'), Cindy Birdsong and Mary Wilson were replaced by The Andantes (Jackie Hicks, Marlene Barrow, and Louvain Demps). I know lots of Supremes fans swear they can hear the difference.  I'll readily admit I can't.  Again, the title track was a massive worldwide hit and remains the song people gravitate to.  As much as I like it I've heard it so often its lost some of its charm and  there were plenty of other treasures to be found including the overlooked single 'Some Things You Never Get Used To', Smokey Robinson's 'He's My Sunny Boy', and the should-have-been-a-single 'How Long Has That Evening Train Been Gone'.  Was it the perfect Supremes album?  No, but it was clearly one of their best releases with relatively little filler.  Still readily available and affordable so it's a great place for some to start exploring the group's extensive catalog.


"Love Child" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Love Child   (Henry Cosby - Frank Wilson - Pam Sawyer - Deke Richards - R. Dean Taylor) - 2:58

Yeah, the title track was the song everyone knows and served as one of their biggest hits.  With its tale of the dangers and costs of wedlock, the song was quite controversial for the time and certainly a major change-up for the group (remember less than a year earlier they'd recorded an album of Rodgers and Hart covers).  Perhaps the biggest irony came in the fact this wasn't even a Supremes tune.  The version of the song Motown actually picked for the album and the single featured Ross on lead vocals, but the backing vocals featured The Andantes, rather than Supremes Cindy Birdsong and Mary Wilson.  As much as I love the tune, years of over saturation have numbed me to some of its charms.  YouTube has a clip of the group lip synching the tune on The Ed Sullivan show.  Perhaps urban legend, but supposedly concerned over the song's topical nature, CBS management almost balked at the group performing the song on Sullivan's show.  Always loved the sight of Ross striving for street credibility in sweats, cutoffs, and bare feet.  By the way, Birdsong and Wilson didn't look too happy in the background:     rating: **** stars

2.) Keep An Eye  (Nickolas Ashford - Valerie Simpson) - 3:08

Hum, Ross and company showcasing some of Ashford and Simpson's most ominous and paranoid work (and I mean that in a good way).   Seriously, anyone who found their pop sensibilities cloying was likely to be surprised by the taunt edge in this one.  Great melody and the dark lyrics are a hoot.  Ross apparently loved the tune as well, subsequently re-recording an inferior version for her 1970 solo debut "Diana Ross".   rating: **** stars

3.) How Long Has That Evening Train Been Gone  (Pam Sawyer - Frank Wilson) - 2:48

One of the album's hidden gems, as good as Ross and company were, the real star on this one came in the form of James Jamerson's killer bass line.   All hyperbole aside, his performance on this tune was simply a classic; one of the best moments in the entire Motown catalog.   rating: **** stars

4.) Does Your Mama Know About Me   (Tom Baird - Tommy Chong) - 2:54

The breezy cover of the Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers' ballad 'Does Your Mama Know About Me' was the album's first disappointment.  Kudos to the song's social commentary (seemingly about interracial relationships), but the arrangement was flat and conventional, with Ross sounding like she was bored, or simply had a nasty head cold.   rating: ** stars

5.) Honey Bee (Keep On Stinging Me)   (Janie Bradford - Debbie Dean - Deke Richards) - 2:22

Cute, catchy, and commercial  tune that sounded like something the Holland-Dozier-Holland team might have written.   The Supremes take a stab at bubblegum pop ?    rating: **** stars

6.) Some Things You Never Get Used To  (Nickolas Ashford - Valerie Simpson) - 2:25

Opening up with castanets, 'Some Things You Never Get Used To' is one of my favorite performances on the album (and one of my all my all time favorite Supremes tunes).  Ashford and Simpson's jittery, up-tempo tune was a perfect showcase for Ross (who always excelled at these kinds of paranoid heartbreak tunes). You also got to hear how good Ashford and Simpson were as backing singers substituting for Birdsong and Wilson.  When the tune hits the abrupt shift before the refrain and the Ashford and Simpson hit those high notes, the song was simply magical.   The song was  tapped as the album's leadoff single.  Unfortunately while it was every bit as good as the title track, it proved a commercial disappointment, peaking at # 30 on the us pop charts.   rating: ***** stars


(side 2)

1.) He's My Sunny Boy   (Smokey Robinson) - 2:22

Hard to go wrong with a good Smokey Robinson tune and this bouncy, upbeat number was a charmer.   Kicked along by a great melody, one of Ross' most charming vocals, and punchy horns, this one could have easily been a hit single.    rating: **** stars

2.) You've Been So Wonderful To Me   (Anna Gordy-Gaye - George Gordy - Allen Story) - 2:34

Simply too MOR-ish for my tastes (the saccharine strings and spoken word segment certainly didn't help), but 'You've Been So Wonderful To Me' certainly could have been another pop hit for the group.  It was also one of the few songs on the album where you could clearly hear Birdsong and Wilson on backing vocals.  rating: ** stars

3.) You Ain't Livin'' Till You're Lovin'   (Nickolas Ashford - Valerie Simpson) - 2:44 

Pleasant, but  there was no way it could ever have measured up to the Marvin Gaye-Tammi Terrell version.   This version was a bit on the  MOR-oriented pop side, though this one was almost saved by the wonderful chorus and Valerie Simpson's piano.   rating: *** stars

4.) (Don't Break These) Chains of Love  (George Beauchamp - Harvey Fuqua - Johnny Bristol) - 2:25

Lots of Supremes fans swear by ore  but to my ears '(Don't Break These) Chains of Love ' was just another slice of forgettable MOR-pop.   rating: *** stars   

5.) I'll Set You Free   (Gwen Fuqua - Berry Gordy - Ivy Jo Hunter - Renee Tener) - 2:40

Always liked this one in part due to the fact Birdsong and Wilson were far more prominent in the mix.  Yeah, they were still background singers, but at least this time around you could pick them out of the mix.  rating: *** stars  

6.) Can't Shake It Loose   (Sidney Barnes - George Clinton - Joanne Jackson - Rose Marie McCoy) - 2:09

Great trivia question - name a tune recorded by both Diana Ross and the Supremes and Funkadelic.  Yeap, 'Can't Shake It Lose'.  George Clinton wrote the tune in 1966 with Pat Lewis releasing it as a single on the Detroit-based Golden World label ('Can't Shake It Loose' b/w 'Let's Go Together' (Golden World catalog number GW 42).  Clinton also cut the song with Funkadelic, the track appearing on 1969's "Funkadelic".   Anyhow, The Supremes smooth, breezy cover was quite enjoyable, but paled next to Lewis' original.  rating: *** stars



Their were two US singles with both seeing international releases; particularly 'Love Child':


- 1968's 'Some Things You Never Get Used To ' b/w 'You've Been So Wonderful to Me' (Motown catalog number 1126)   # 30 pop; # 43 R&B

- 1968's 'Love Child' b/w 'Will This Be the Day' (Motown catalog number 1135)  # 1 pop; # 2 R&B


Propelled by the hit singles, television exposure, and positive reviews, the album hit # 14 on the US pop charts and # 3 on the R&B charts.




Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Diana Ross and the Supremes Join the Temptations

Company: Motown

Catalog: MS-679

Year: 1968

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1433

Price: $10.00



Two of music's biggest acts collaborating ...  should have been a mega commercial and creative hit.  Right?  Supported by the NBC broadcast Taking Care of Business (TCB) television special, the album was a substantial seller, peaking at # 2 on the pop charts and # 1 on the R&B charts.  That said, it was far from a creative monster.  Berry Gordy and company apparently thought the accompanying album, 1968's "Diana Ross and the Supremes Join the Temptations" would be a good way to reinforce both groups' credentials with middle American white audiences.  With Frank Wilson serving as executive producer, the result was a surprisingly dull and uninspired mixture of older and newer Motown hits like 'I Second that Emotion', 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough', and 'I'll Try Something New'.  The Motown catalog was supplemented by a couple of bland outside numbers, including a needless cover Burt Bacharach and Hal David's 'This Guy's In Love with You'.   Heavy orchestration and a fussy sound added to the  MOR-ish feel of material like 'Try It Baby' and 'A Place In the Sun'.  Admittedly the latter was interesting for featuring David Ruffin replacement Dennis Edwards.  Sure there were a couple of successes to be found on the set.  Their cover of the old  Dee Dee Warwick  hit 'I'm Gonna Make You Love Me' was quite good, providing the two groups with one of their bigger radio hits.  Also released as a single, their cover of The Miracles' ' I'll Try Something New' was equally good, while 'Then' was a treat for giving Paul Williams a shot at the spotlight. 


"Diana Ross and the Supremes Join the Temptations" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Try It Baby   (Berry Gordy) - 3:42

It's always a surprise and pleasure to hear Melvin Franklin's deep voice opening up on lead vocals, though he simply didn't blend very well with Diana Ross.   Paul Williams  was a better match for Ross on the second half of the tune, though you had to wonder what Motown was trying to achieve with this over-produced slice of supper club jazz.  rating: ** stars

2) I Second That Emotion   (Smokey Robinson - Al Cleveland) - 2:19

Pity these folks for trying to mess with perfection.   Admittedly they turned in a professional attempt to cover this classic Motown tune, but buried in a haphazard arrangement complete with horns and strings, Diana and Eddie Kendricks (another odd pairing), had to fight to simply survive.  No way you were going to pick this one of the Smokey Robinson and the Miracles original.  The song was also released as a single in the UK and Germany.   rating: *** stars  

3) Ain't No Mountain High Enough   (Nickolas Ashford - Valerie Simpson) - 2:16

I'm sure they had little say when it came to material selection, but you simply had to wonder why they would have willingly have taken on a track so intimately associated with another Motown act.   There was simply no way to listen to 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' and not think of Marvin Gaye and the late Tammi Terrell.  Again, the cover wasn't a major departure from the original, but it sounded overly busy, cluttered, and the orchestration was a mess.   Forgettable.  rating: ** stars

4.) I'm Gonna Make You Love Me   (Kenneth Gamble - Leon Huff - Jerry Ross) - 3:06

I've always found it interesting that the album's best tune was written by a team from outside the Motown family ...  Motown originally envisioned releasing  a cover of the sappy 'The Impossible Dream as the first single, but radio stations started airing this tune instead. That led Motown to quickly change it's plan, opting to go with the flow.  Easily one of the best "duets" in the entire Motown catalog with Kendricks showing what a great singer he was.   As far as I know, the two groups never actually performed this one together, though YouTube has a clip of The Temptations doing the song on The Ed  Sullivan Show:    As mentioned, the tune was the lead-off single:


- 1968's 'I'm Gonna Make You Love Me' b/w 'A Place In the Sun'; (Motown catalog number M 1137)   rating: ***** stars

5.) This Guy's In Love with You   (Burt Bacharach - Hal David) - 3:48

Otis Franklin gets another shot at the spotlight, but it was wasted on a horrible remake of this lame Bacharach-David slice of dreck.   rating: ** stars

6.) Funky Broadway   (Lester Christian) - 2:32

Thanks in large part to The Temptations performance, 'Funky Broadway' was the album's biggest surprise, displaying a totally unexpected sense of funk.  Ross was fine, but you could tell that hardcore funk just wasn't her style.  (The credits got the writer's name wrong - it was actually written Arlester "Dyke" Christian who recorded the best version of the tune with Dyke and the Blazers.)    rating: **** stars


(side 2)

1.) I'll Try Something New   (Smokey Robinson) - 2:20

One of the album's better collaborations and one where Kendricks and Ross really seemed to find some chemistry.   I won't goes as far as saying this was better than the original Smokey and the Miracles version, but it was pretty close.  Carol Kaye turned in a wonderful performance on bass - James Jamerson would have been proud.   The track was tapped as the second single off the album:

- 1969's 'I'll Try Something New' b/w 'The Way You Do the Things You Do' (Motown catalog number M-1142)   rating: **** stars

2.) A Place In the Sun   (Ron Miller - Bryan Wells) - 3:29

Pity Dennis Edwards being stuck handling lead vocals on this dog.   Dull, dull, dull, dull.   rating: ** stars

3.) Sweet Inspiration   (Dan Penn - Spooner Oldham) - 2:55

Maybe because neither group was known for delving into Southern soul, I've always enjoyed the atypical 'Sweet Inspiration'.   Nice Kendricks-Ross performance.   rating: *** stars

4.) Then   (Smokey Robinson - Ronald White - Warren Moore) - 2:12

Paul Williams has always been one of the forgotten Temptations, which seems almost criminal given his wonderful performance on Smokey's 'Then'.   Yeah, the song was a bit sappy, but this may have been the best duet with Ross.   Shame it was so short.   rating: **** stars

5.) The Impossible Dream   (Joe Darion - Mitch Leigh) - 4:47 

Gawd only knows why Motown would have made them record s tune from Man of La Mancha.   The fact they were going to release it as a single makes you wonder about the Motown machine even more.   The tune was included in the TCB show.   Be forewarned, the performance is painful, but here it is:   rating: ** stars  




Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  New Ways But Love Stays

Company: Motown

Catalog: MS-720

Year: 1970

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold, die cut cover

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 1331

Price: $10.00


With Jean Terrell proving a surprisingly impressive replacement for Diana Ross, the Terrell, Cindy Birdsong, and Mary Wilson line-up returned  to the studio for 1970's "New Ways But Love Stays".  The album was originally going to carry the same title as the leadoff single 'Stoned Love, but controversy in some sectors over the song title and mistakenly perceived pro-drug meaning led Motown marketing to opt for the more conventional album title.  Produced by Frank Wilson, musically the collection was kind of a hodgepodge reflecting a mixture of conventional soul tunes ('Together We Make Such Sweet Music' and ' It's Time To Break Down'), rounded out by material seemingly geared to a more mainstream pop and rock audience (The Beatles 'Come Together' and Paul Simon's 'Bridge Over Troubled Water').  Given Motown's virtual loss of interest in the group, Wilson turned in a project far better than you would have ever expected, with the single 'Stoned Love' serving as one of the group's all--time greatest hits (and their last top-10 performance).  It may not have reached the creative zenith of the original line-up in their Holland-Dozier-Holland glories, but it was pretty damn good.


"New Ways But Love Stays" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Together We Make Such Sweet Music  (R. Drapkin - M. Coleman) - 3:30

At the risk of incurring the wrath of millions of Diana Ross fans, I've got to tell you Terrell sounded pretty darn good on the opening tune.  Complete with some wonderful fuzz guitar accompaniment, the tune sounded far tougher than the big ballads that Ross seemed to favor over her the last couple of years with the group.  rating: **** stars

2.) Stoned Love   (Frank Wilson - Y. Samoth aka Kinney Thomas) - 4:00

Producer Wilson co-wrote the song with 17 year old songwriter Kinney Thomas.  Wilson had heard Thomas perform on a talent show sponsored by a local Detroit radio station.  Impressed, he track Thomas down and was immediately taken with Thomas' 'Stoned Love' (which was not about illicit substances).   Anyhow, talk about misdirection ...  the first ten seconds of this tune sounded like a throwaway Broadway tune.  And then the tune explodes into one of The Supremes all-time great performances.  Hard to imagine Ross ever sounding as soulful and the backing vocals were simply too die for good.   Released as a single, the track went top-10 and returned the group to million seller status.   YouTube has a clip of the group (with Lynda Laurence replacing a then-pregnant Cindy Birdsong), lip synching the song of Soul Train.  rating: **** stars



- 1970's 'Stoned Love' b/w 'Shine On Me' (Motown catalog number M 1172)

3.) It's Time To Break Down   (E. Hendley - Frank Wilson) - 5:00

One of the album's hidden treasure, 'It's Time To Break Down' was a slow building ballad  that showcased the new line-ups considerable strengths; particularly Terrell's first-rate voice.  Based on this one, I think you could argue she was every bit as impressive as Ross.   rating: **** stars

4.) Bridge Over Troubled Water -   (Paul Simon) - 5:29

I'm no expert, but I think Wilson opens up the song with Terrell taking over from that point on.  The arrangement wasn't all that different from the Simon and Garfunkel original; a bit slower with heavy orchestration and some unnecessary fuzz guitar that was more distracting than enjoyable.   rating: ** stars

5.) I Wish You Were Mine   Pam Sawyer - Frank WIlson) - 3:56

Showcasing Birdsong's lovely soprano, 'I Wish You Were Mind' could have been another classic Supremes tune, but Wilson's arrangement was too fussy and MOR-ish for the group.   Shame.   rating: ** stars


(side 2)

1.) Come Together   (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 3:58

Anyway you looked at it, 'Come Together' was an odd choice for the group to cover ...   They've seldom sounded as psychedelic as on this one; not necessarily a good thing for the group.  Still, it was nice to hear them pushing beyond the traditional Motown boundaries.    rating: *** stars

2.) Is There a Place (In His Heart for Me)   (C. McMurray - M. Coleman) - 3:54

The only non-Wilson produced song on the album, 'Is There a Place (In His Heart for Me); was kind of a Motown chestnut - by the time The Supremes recorded it, both Gladys Knight and the Pips and Martha reeves and the Vandellas had already covered it.  With Jean handling lead, their version was nice enough, though I'd actually give the nod to a reggae-flavored cover by Paulette Walker, followed by Reeves' version.   rating: *** stars

3.) Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye   G. Decarlo - D. Frasheur - Paul Lake) - 2:47

Well, the band Steam had a massive hit with the tune, but to my ears it always sounded like a gimmick record; too clever for its own good.   Their cover was nice enough, but the song was simply irritating.   rating: *** stars

4.) Shine On Me   (Frank Wilson) - 3:59

Nice ballad with lots of fuzz guitar and a distinctive psych edge to it ...   Also interesting from the perspective that all three ladies got a shot at lead vocals.   One of the album standouts.  rating: **** stars

5.) Thank Him For Me    (F. Dimirco) - 2:59

Upbeat pop tune with a Gospel lyric and the album's best guitar solo.   rating: *** stars



Supported by the hit single, the parent LP sold decently, hitting # 68 on the US album charts.





Genre: soul

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Touch

Company: Motown

Catalog: MS-737

Year: 1971

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4563

Price: $5.00

Cost: $66.00



It's unfortunate that the post-Diana Ross Supremes catalog is largely overlooked since there are quite a few efforts that match (and even surpass) some of the original line-ups outputs.  


1971's "Touch" found The Supremes (now Cindy Birdsong, Jean Terrell and Mary WIison) continuing their partnership with producer/writer Frank Wilson.  Musically this one's a mild disappointment.  With WIlson and partner Pam Sawyer responsible for about half of the material, the set sported a couple of winners, though the two most commercial numbers were penned by others - Clifton Davis' 'Here Comes the Sunrise' and 'Johnny Raven'.  Okay, okay, I'll admit the Sawyer-Wilson-penned 'Happy (Is a Bumpy Ride)' was pretty good. Overall the collection simply fails to match Wilson's previous efforts with the group. 


Motown tapped the album for two marginally successful singles:


- 1971's 'Nathan Jones' b/w 'Happy Is a Bumpy Road (Motown catalog number 1182)

- 1971's 'Touch' b/w 'It's So Hard To Say Goodbye' (Motown catalog number 1190) Postscript - a young Elton John wrote the fawning back cover liner notes.


"Touch" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) This Is the Story   (Pam Sawyer - Frank Wilson) - 3:26

2.) Nathan Jones   (L. Caston - K. Wakefield) - 3:02

3.) Here Comes the Sunrise   (Clifton Davis) - 3:47

4.) Love It Came To Me This Time   (L. Caston - K. Wakefield) - 3:21

5.) Johnny Raven   (B. Page) - 3:19


(side 2)

1.) Have I Lost You   (Pam Sawyer - Leon Ware) - 2:44

2.) Time and Love   (Laura Nyro) - 4:07

3.) Touch   (Pam Sawyer - Frank Wilson) - 3:43

4.) Happy (Is a Bumpy Ride)   (Pam Sawyer - Frank Wilson) - 3:08

5.) It's So Hard for Me To Say Goodbye   (Pam Sawyer - Frank Wilson) - 3:16






Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  The Supremes

Company: Motown

Catalog: M6-828S1

Year: 1975

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 1392

Price: $8.00

Cost: $66.00


Geez, to some extent this album raises the question when are The Supremes no longer The Supremes?  


Two years after the last Supremes album, Motown got around to releasing another studio album.  By the time 1975's cleverly titled "The Supremes" hit the stores the line up consisted of Cindy Birdsong (back for a second time after becoming a mother), former Glass House singer Scherrie Payne, and Mary Wilson.  As the last original member of The Supremes line-up, Wilson clearly had legitimate history under The Supremes nameplate, but listening to this patchy album, you couldn't help but get the feeling this line-up were essentially hired guns brought on board in an effort to reinvigorate The Supremes name plate.  All three members were gifted vocalists, opening the door to a favorite Supremes fan pass time - which member was the most talented?  My vote would go to Payne, though for some odd reason the talented Birdsong was relegated to backing vocals.  (I'd also suggest this might have been the hottest looking Supremes line-up.)   Unfortunately as non-writers they were left tot the mercy of outside songwriters and producers.  In this case, they were teamed  with a staggering six separate production teams, including Hal Davis, Brian Holland, and Michael Lloyd.  Needless to say,  the album simply bounced all over the musical spectrum.  With the exception of Terry Woodford and Clayton Ivey's 'Give Out, But Don't Give Up' (which sounded like a throwback to prime time Motown) and 'Color My World Blue' nothing here is particularly strong, though a couple of the pseudo-dance tracks 'He's My Man', 'Early Morning Love' and 'Where Do I Go From Here' grew on you if given an opportunity.  Sure the album had its moments, but the overall feel was of a group and their label desperately casting around for a relevant sound.


"The Supremes" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) He's My Man   (Greg Wright - Karin Patterson) - 2:55

I can remember hearing this one on the radio and thinking it sounded a bit like a multi-tracked Donna Summer tune - same kind of radio-friendly disco--tinged material Summer was kicking out.  The song was pretty much a throwaway tune, though the Birdsong, Payne, Wilson vocals sounded nice.   Motown released the song as a single, earning a # 1 dance hit with the tune. The sound and video quality aren't great, but  YouTube has a clip of the group performing the tune on the Johnny Carson Show:   rating: *** stars

2.) Early Morning Love   (Harold Beatty - Brian Holland - Eddie Holland) - 3:11

Another slightly disco-tinged number (stronger than the leadoff), than benefited from Mary Wilson on lead and some nice harmony vocals.   YouTube has a clip of the trio lip-synching the song on Soul Train:   rating: *** stars

3.) Where Is It I Belong   (Samuel Brown III - Ronald Brown - Elaine Brown ) - 3:53

This slow-burn ballad is a favorite for a lot of Supremes fans, but I've always found it too MOR for the group's own good.   Admittedly Walls was in top form on the tune, but this was the kind of tune more appropriate for The Merv Griffin show, rather than Soul Train.   Ironically, YouTube has a clip of the group performing the song on Soul Train.   rating: *** stars

4.) It's All Been Said Before   (Dennis Lambert - Brian Potter) - 2:30

The pop flavored 'It's All Been Said Before' gave Payne a shot at the spotlight and turned in a tune that had an old-fashioned, classic Motown sound.   Would have made a nice single.  The irony is that this was originally tagged as the first single.  Motown went as far as giving it a release number, but at the last minute opted to go with the more dance oriented 'He's My Man'.   rating: *** stars

5.) This Is Why I Believe In You   (Michael B. Sutton - Pam Sawyer) - 3:10

With Payne and Wilson sharing lead vocals, 'This Is Why I Believe In You' was a strange tune that eventually morphed into a come-to-Jesus shouter. Another Soul Train clip:   rating: *** stars


(side 2)

1.) You Can't Stop a Girl in Love   (Terry Woodford - George Soule) - 2:31

Bouncy, if slightly MOR-ish mid-tempo ballad.  Payne sounded a bit strained and shrill on this one, though the refrain was nice.   rating: *** stars

2.) Color My World Blue   (Frank Johnson) - 3:32

With Payne on lead vocals, to my ears 'Color My World Blue' was the album's most commercial tune.  Great melody with some of those world class backing vocals and a neat little guitar riff that climbs into your head and won't leave.  rating: **** stars 

3.) Give Out, But Don't Give Up   (Terry Woodford - Clayton Ivey - Barbara Wyrick) - 2:33

Ever think you'd hear a banjo-propelled Supremes tune ?  Well, capturing that old, magical Motown sound, the breezy, uplifting 'Give Out, But Don't Give Up' was easily the standout performance.  Another Payne showstopper, this should have been one of the singles.   rating: **** stars

4.) Where Do I Go From Here   (Eddie Holland - Brian Holland) - 3:29

With a pounding disco arrangement, 'Where Do I Go From Here' was tapped as the second single.  With Payne on lead vocals the tune was actually better than you would have expected, though not one of the standout efforts.   The MOR sax solo certainly wasn't necessary.   rating: *** stars

5.) You Turn Me Around  (Barry Mann - Cynthia Weil) - 2:30

Smooth, and totally forgettable supper club ballad.  Waste of Mary Wilson's talents.   rating: ** stars



As mentioned, Motown tapped the album for a series of singles:

- 1975's 'He's My Man' b/w 'Give Out, But Don't Give Up' (Motown catalog number M 1358F) # 69 pop charts

- 1975's 'Where Do I Go From Here' b/w 'Give Out, But Don't Give Up' (Motown catalog number M 1374F) # 93 R&B charts


In the UK there was  a third 45:

- 1975's 'Early Morning Love' b/w 'Where Is It I Belong?" (Tamla-Motown catalog number TMG 1012)


Backed by extensive promotion, including a lot of television exposure, the album hit # 152 on the pop charts and # 25 on the R&B charts.




Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  High Energy

Company: Motown

Catalog: M6-828S1

Year: 1976

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2771

Price: $10.00


Reunited with former Motown producers Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland Jr, 1976's "High Energy" should have generated massive attention and large sales.  The album was also notable for another personnel change - Cindy Birdsong quitting after the album was recorded; former Wonderlove singer Susaye Greene being brought in as a replacement.   Based on the album packaging and liner notes you would never have known Birdsong worked on the album.  The liner notes made no mention of her and the album photos featured newcomer Greene.  Still, if you had a good ear, Birdsong's voice could be heard throughout the album, including their return-to-the-charts hit 'I'm Gonna Let My Heart Do the Walking'.  


Musically you certainly couldn't blame Motown for wanting to reinvigorate The Supremes' sales, probably explaining why material like the title track, 'You Keep Me Moving On', and 'You're What's Missing In My Life' showcased the an embrace of disco. Giving credit where due, 'I'm Gonna Let My Heart Do the Walking' was a surprisingly enjoyable dance number.    I certainly won't try to convince anyone this was a major return to form, but I will tell you that the Wilson-Payne-Greene line-up sounded quite impressive.  Wilson's sultry voice seldom sounded as good as on the ballad 'Don't Let My Teardrops Bother You'.    Showcased by 'Only You (Can Love Me Like You Love Me)', Payne was probably the most overlooked member of the group.  She didn't get a lot of face tie, but Greene's high and powerful was a nice addition to Wilson's voice.  All told, a nice late-inning return to form.


"High Energy" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) High Energy  (Harold Beatty - Brian Holland - Eddie Holland Jr.) - 5:25  rating: *** stars

Hearing The Supremes taking on a discofied tune was a bit disconcerting, as was Wilson's spoken word introduction.   Still, once you got over the initial shock Greene's high, powerful voice (she reminded me a touch of Denise Williams), was interesting.  That was actually a good description for the song - interesting, if not essential.  YouTube has a clip of the group performing the song for the 1976 "Live from Montreux" television special - not a great performance; their vocals are a bit brittle (particularly Greene who seems to be battling a bad case of opera-itis), and while the wraps were apparently meant to be classy, they  appeared to be a source of ongoing frustration for the three ladies  ...   For hardcore fans, there are apparently a couple of alternative versions of the song - one featuring Birdsong on lead vocals, and one with Payne handling vocals.

2.) I'm Gonna Let My Heart Do the Walking   (Harold Beatty - Brian Holland - Eddie Holland Jr.) - 3:33   rating: **** stars

As non-writers The Supremes were always dependent on producers to feed them quality material.  Even though it was a disco-tinged track, on 'I'm Gonna Let My Heart Do the Walking' Beatty-Holland-Holland team treated the ladies well.  As mentioned above, this was one of the songs that showcased a four member line-up; Payne on lead; Birdsong, Wilson, and Greene on background vocals - Greene;s voice was added after during post-procuction.  You can hear here on  the higher notes.  Released as a single the tune returned them one last time to the top-100 US charts.

- 1976''s 'I'm Gonna Let My Heart Do the Walking' b/w 'Early Morning Love' (Motown catalog M 1391F) 340 pop; # 25 R&B; # 3 disco  The choreography is a little ragged, but YouTube has a clip of the group lip synching the song on American Bandstand:  

3.) Only You (Can Love Me Like You Love Me)  (Harold Beatty - Brian Holland - Eddie Holland Jr.) - 3:04   rating: **** stars

'Only You (Can Love Me Like You Love Me)' was worth hearing just for Payne's energetic lead vocals.  

4.) You Keep Me Moving On  (Brian Holland - Edward Holland Jr. - Richard Davis - Hugh Whche) - 3:35  rating: ** stars

Hum, based on the bland and forgettable  'You Keep Me Moving On', about all I can say is disco simply wasn't the genre for The Supremes.


(side 2)

1.) Don't Let My Teardrops Bother You   Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - Eddie Holland Jr. - Richard "Popcorn" Wylie) - 4:59   rating: **** stars

If you were going to pick a Supremes song to highlight Mary Wilson's talents, the sweet ballad 'Don't Let My Teardrops Bother You' would be a good place to start.  Yeah, the arrangement was a bit heavy handed and MOR-ish, but Wilson's sultry performances was simply killer.  This crushed Dionne Warwick's version.  Be warned it's not the most energetic performance (or audience), but YouTube has a clip of the trio performing the song on The Merv Griffi Show:  

2.) Till the Boat Sails Away / I Don't Want To Lose You   (Barry Payne - Harold Beatty - Brian Holland - Eddie Holland Jr.)  / Thom Bell - Linda Creed) - 8:03  rating: ** stars

Hum, the lapping waves sound effects and oboe backing gave 'Till the Boat Sales Away' an unnecessarily MOR-ish feel.  Things improved when Wells' vocals kicked in, but it still wasn't an album standout.  The second part of the medley wasn't much better - overly sentimental and not particularly melodic.   Neither the sound or video quality are great, but YouTube has a promotional video that was made in support of the song: 

3.) You're What's Missing In My Life  (Harold Beatty - Brian Holland - Eddie Holland Jr.) - 3:56   rating; *** stars

Back to a disco motif, though it opened with one of the strangest musical arrangements you'll ever hear on a Supremes song.  Wilson and Payne haring lead vocals,  but after the opening the song quickly became pedestrian and forgettable.   YouTube has a promotion clip made for the song (Wilson was apparently pregnant at the time):