Saturday, 2 June 2018

Diana Ross & The Supremes - Meet The Supremes (1962)

  

Released in December 1962

Recorded at Hitsville, Detroit

In 1962, the “Motown Sound”, as we came to know it, had not been developed, as such. What we had here was a mix of rock n roll ballads and fifties “doo-wop”, with a bit of early Atlantic soul thrown in there. This is an interesting bunch of recordings, historically, although anyone looking for the trademark Diana Ross & The Supremes sound will not really get it here. The original album, plus the many extras, feature the original four members, including Barbara Martin. What is clear is that of Martin, Florence Ballard and Cindy Birdsong, Diana Ross was by no means the outstanding singer. All the girls feature taking lead vocal duties in these recordings.

You get the original album in both MONO and STEREO. The stereo recordings are very good. More than that, they are truly fantastic. A revelation. I much prefer them, but then I am a confirmed stereo fan.

Highlights of the original album are the poppy “Time Changes Things”, the upbeat Latin groove of “Let Me Go The Right Way”, “Your Heart Belongs To Me”, “Who’s Lovin’ You”, the innocence of “He’s Seventeen”, and the amusing, funky rock n roll of “Buttered Popcorn”. Beware, though, it is not a Motown-sounding album in the well-known sense of the word. It is more a rock n roll-style ballads album. A track like "Baby Don't Go" is an example of this - fifties-style vocals and lyrics. Slow percussion and a saxophone in the background. Absolutely crystal clear sound in this one though. Check out those cymbals! "Never Again" is a similar example. It is a rock n roll ballad, as opposed to Motown.

The "EXTRAS" feature many tracks that do not feature on the original album, and some good ones too - “Hey Baby”, “The Boy That Got Away” and “Too Hot” stand out, plus a run of four stereo versions of previously unreleased tracks. All of which in are excellent sound quality, for 1962. "You Can Depend On Me" has a bit of a scratchy sound, however, but it is raised up by what appears to be an electric violin solo.

The LIVE cuts from the “Battle Of The Bands” is a most interesting inclusion, and this is where we see (and hear) Diana Ross staking her claim for the number one spot with an all out vocal attack on “Run Run Run”, where she displays a real soul growl to her voice not often heard. Diana was going for it. After the song you can hear her gasping for breath. “Standing At The Crossroads Of Love” is a fifties-style tube, but check out that bass line and a bit of a hint of Motown drums and percussion. Great stuff. Then they do an excellent “Anyone Who Had A Heart”. These live cuts are most enjoyable. Amazed at the sound quality. I cannot stress it enough. Full, warm and bassy. Again, just listen to Diana giving it some on “Let Me Go The Right Way”. She owned that stage. No diva stuff, just a young girl with fire and soul in her belly.

“When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes” is when we hear THAT Motown sound for the first time. Wonderful.

B-

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