Jean Terrell

Band members                             Related acts

- Velma Jean Terrell (aka Jean Thompson) -- vocals



- FLOS (Former Ladies of Motown)

- Jean, Scherrie & Lynda

- The Supremes

- Ernie Terrell & His Heavyweights

- Ernie and Jean Terrell with the Heavyweights





Genre: soul

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  I Had To Fall In Love

Company: A&M

Catalog: SP 4676

Year: 1978

Country/State: Belzoni, Mississippi

Grade (cover/record): VG+VG+

Comments: original inner lyric sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5004

Price: $20.00



Yes, I'll readily admit to having a thang for Ms. Terrell ... In addition to having a killer voice (I'd rather hear her than the shrill Diana Ross any day), the woman simply exudes a sense of class and dignity.


Given her talent, its simply unfortunate that Terrell's best known as Diana Ross' late-1960s replacement in The Supremes.  (Her other notoriety stemmed from the fact heavyweight boxer Ernie Terrell was her brother - she even recorded a couple of mid-1960s 45s with him.)  


Released five years after she quit The Supremes, 1978's "I Had To Fall In Love" found Terrell signed to A&M Records. Produced by the Philadelphia-based Bobby Martin and backed by an all star cast of studio pros, the album' should have been a soul classic.  Showcasing Terrell's crisp and versatile soprano the set was far more versatile than one would have expected for an ex-Supreme solo effort - certainly when compared to Ross' solo catalog.  Tracks like 'Don't Stop Reaching for the Top' and 'Rising Cost of Love' kicked the album off on a surprisingly funky note, while 'No One Like My Baby' and the pretty ballad 'Change Up' were wonderful radio-friendly pop. Even better was the should've-been-a-massive hit 'You've Been So Good To Me'.  In fact the only real disappointments were the lightweight Gallagher and Lyle penned title track (which sounded like a Carly Simon outtake) and a couple of the disco-tinged numbers (a mindless cover of 'No Limits').  Terrell simply had an amazing voice.  In spite of that praise, this is one of those could-have-been projects.  Had Martin found even stronger material for Terrell and had he used a little more imagination in the arrangement and a little less standard disco effects - slap bass; scratch guitar effects, brassy backing singers ...  wow, what an album this could have been.  Instead it was merely very good.


Sadly, driven in part by her religious convictions (Terrell was a devout Jehovah's Witness), her relationship with A&M quickly fell apart.  She didn't record again until the mid-1980s.  


"I Had To Fall In Love" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Don't Stop Reaching for the Top   (James Davis - Jeffrey Osborne) - 4:13   rating: *** stars

If you ever doubted that a woman could belt out a funk track, then take a listen to 'Don't Stop Reaching for the Top'.  And the funny thing was Terrell didn't even sound like she was breaking a sweat.  The album's leadoff single and it should have been a massive hit:





- 'Don't Stop Reaching for the Top' b/w 'No Limit' (A&M catalog number AM-2039).  






2.) No One Like My Baby   (Fred Bliffert) - 3:45   rating: *** stars

'No One Like My Baby' was an example where Terrell's wonderful voice was wasted on a song that could have been amazing, but thanks to a throwaway, pseudo-disco arrangement, was completely wasted.  What a shame.

3.) Rising Cost of Love   (Bobby Martin - Ron Hawks - Zane Grey) - 3:24   rating: **** stars

An example where Terrell's voice overcame one of Martin's pedestrian arrangements  ...  Had I worked for A&M, 'Rising Cost of Love' is the track I would have tapped as the single.

4.) Change Up   (Len Ron Hawks - Zane Grey) - 5:00

Beautiful ballad that served to showcase Terrell's dynamite voice.  And again, she made it sound effortless.


(side 2)
1.) How Can You (Live without Love)   (Len Ron Hawks - Zane Grey) - 3:21  rating: ** stars

By the late-'70s disco influences had seemingly permeated virtually every aspect of music (and public life) and Terrell's solo album was no exception.  Nice vocal, crappy song ...

2.) I Had To Fall In Love   (Benny Gallagher - Graham Lyle) - 4:16  rating: ** stars

Can't say I really liked the Gallagher and Lyle original and Terrell's cover of 'I Had To Fall In Love' wasn't a major improvement.  Bathed in heavy strings, Terrell did her best, but the song just never gathered much energy.  Always wondered why it was tapped as a single:





- 'I Had To Fall In Love' b/w 'Rising Cost of Love' (A&M catalog number AM-2064)






3.) That's the Way Love Grows   (Frank McDonald - Chris Rae - Gerry Shury) - 3:30   rating: *** stars

More disco-influences, but Terrell's voice was too strong and impressive to be buried by sub-par materials.

4.) You've Been So Good To Me   (Len Ron Hawks - Zane Grey) - 4:23   rating: **** stars 

I'm not sure this will make a great deal of sense, but perhaps due to the song's "cuteness" factor, 'You've Been So Good To Me' struck me as being the most Supremes sounding tune on the album.  Great refrain.   

5.) No Limit   (Len Ron Hawks - Zane Grey) - 3:19  rating: ** stars

I was familiar with Chicago's Darrow Fletcher version of 'No Limits'.  In contrast to Fletcher's pounding soul arrangement, 'producer Martin managed to turn the song into an anonymous disco flavored ballad.  Check out Darrow's version rather than this sad cover.