40th Anniversary Box Box set, Limited Edition, Import
Although they weren't the first of the girl groups, the Supremes were by far the most successful. And this comprehensive five-CD box set does justice to their phenomenal, lengthy career--from their pre-Motown days as a quartet called the Primettes (their first single and its B-side open the first disc) to their last hit in 1976. The first two discs of this set are full of Diana Ross-led gems: those you probably remember, such as "Baby Love" and "You Can't Hurry Love," and those you might not, such as "Any Girl in Love" and "Come On and See Me." Sprinkled throughout are unreleased tracks and new mixes of classic songs and standards. Nowhere else will you hear original Supreme Florence Ballard's haunting version of "People."
Cindy Birdsong's 1967 replacement of Ballard coincides with a change in the Supremes' material: disc three charts the movement from the light-hearted bop of "Forever Came Today" and "Heaven Must Have Sent You," to forceful, sexy, funky numbers such as "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" and "The Weight" (both recorded with the Temptations). The late-'60s Supremes dealt with issues such as unwed motherhood ("Love Child") and the youth revolution ("The Young Folks"). In an ironic twist, disc three ends with "Someday We'll Be Together," one of the last recordings of Diana Ross & the Supremes.
The '70s were coming, and the funk revolution rolled ahead with new lead singer Jean Terrell. Terrell's stronger, lower voice suited the times and the grittier material on tracks such as "River Deep, Mountain High" and "Stoned Love," while Mary Wilson steps out front to close the fourth disc with "You Are the Heart of Me." The fifth disc on this limited edition is filled with live performances of 11 signature Supremes hits with Ross.
The music of the Supremes is both complex and catchy--a mixture virtually unheard of in the banal teen pop of our times. Motown ruled teen pop back then, and this collection of music is stronger and sweeter than anything on the radio today. --Courtney Kemp
No, the sides represented on the first three CDs are still largely a tribute to Diane for the most part; and, sadly, this is likely the last in a long string of compilations that fall regrettably short of the mark. The book, however, is superbly done, fairly factual, and contains dozens of photos that haven't been published for widespread consumption before, and Mary is given at least a little more credit for holding the act together for so long, and is vocally represented a great deal more thoroughly. (It causes one to wonder if there's still an anti-Flo conspiracy going on 24 years after her death. Get the message, Motown: she's gone; you can't hurt her anymore. Give the lady her due.)
The packaging is lush to the Nth degree, but crushed velour won't hold up for very long, and you can hear the binding crack whenever the package is opened.
Motown: you missed the boat yet again!