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View Full Version : An overlooked L.A.-recorded Gem for The Supremes


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WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance
09-29-2018, 01:02 AM
I was never high on the Reflections album until a few years ago there was a thread about it here. Quite a few had good things to say about some of the songs I didn't care for. Made me go back and really listen to everything with a fresh perspective. "I Can't Make It Alone" is one of those times where the L.A. crew came up with something really good. This is actually a little , mini-majestic production and one that seems to be overlooked.

https://youtu.be/gtJS-_VteYI

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144man
09-29-2018, 07:01 AM
The verse of "I Can't Make It Alone" is very strong; unfortunately the chorus rambles all over the place.

daviddh
09-29-2018, 11:34 AM
I liked the album but think once again they added a bit filler instead of taking an xtra week to mix it better or choose a better track

sup_fan
09-29-2018, 12:10 PM
to me, many of the HDH tracks seem unfinished. or not quite to their potential. perhaps some were finished by other producers to simply get the material ready for the album. maybe they used an almost complete version that HDH had worked on but due to their slowdown, they never really completed.

i do think the general direction of the Reflections lp was intriguing. by combining the psychedelic influences of San Fran and N CA with the Sunshine Pop influences of Mama's and Pappas/BeachBoys/Southern CA, you have a unique production angle. not exactly a tribute but certainly an acknowledgement of the major influence that California was having on the pop scene at that time. sort of "motown does CA"

i'd maybe swap a few tracks from the vault with what was on the final lp. that might have helped firm up the CA viewpoint a bit more. what we got in the end was a little all over the place and not as cohesive as it could have been

WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance
09-29-2018, 05:04 PM
I liked the album but think once again they added a bit filler instead of taking an xtra week to mix it better or choose a better track

I think that's the general feeling I've had about this LP. What is that saying about something being less that the sum of its parts? 12 tracks and yet it feels like a lot less music of substance going on. There are moments, but like you said, had they taken a bit more time and gone with other stronger material, this really could have been a much better album.

WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance
09-29-2018, 05:46 PM
to me, many of the HDH tracks seem unfinished. or not quite to their potential. perhaps some were finished by other producers to simply get the material ready for the album. maybe they used an almost complete version that HDH had worked on but due to their slowdown, they never really completed.

i do think the general direction of the Reflections lp was intriguing. by combining the psychedelic influences of San Fran and N CA with the Sunshine Pop influences of Mama's and Pappas/BeachBoys/Southern CA, you have a unique production angle. not exactly a tribute but certainly an acknowledgement of the major influence that California was having on the pop scene at that time. sort of "motown does CA"

i'd maybe swap a few tracks from the vault with what was on the final lp. that might have helped firm up the CA viewpoint a bit more. what we got in the end was a little all over the place and not as cohesive as it could have been

Definitely a good summary of this album; "a little all over the place." When I bought it, I really loved the sound heard on the "Reflections" single and thought that would carry through on all the songs on the album. More than any other producer, I think Deke Richards came closest to capturing that H-D-H sound and I wish they had allowed him to produce more material with the group. "I'm Gonna Make It" was a good song and production and even carried that moody electric organ/piano from "Reflections."

I agree to that with so many good vaulted material, there could have been a much better LP formed. I think the "Reflections" album suffers from the school of thought that was creeping into music- you can't just have good songs anymore, now you've got to make statements or create relevant material.

Hadn't considered that there was a direction the album was taking, but reading your post, now it makes sense and explains the song selections. Actually, a "Motown Does CA" album may have been fun if they had the resources to craft something along the lines of a Fifth Dimensions LP- those are very interesting to listen to and have that cohesiveness we didn't get on "Reflections."

TomatoTom123
09-29-2018, 05:52 PM
Never listened to this one before, but I LIKE it! Thanks WaitingWatching!

WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance
09-29-2018, 05:54 PM
Never listened to this one before, but I LIKE it! Thanks WaitingWatching!

Glad you enjoyed this one, Tom! I'd never really paid it attention either until I went back and played the CD on the way to work one day.

WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance
09-29-2018, 05:56 PM
The verse of "I Can't Make It Alone" is very strong; unfortunately the chorus rambles all over the place.

Yeah, the chorus is a bit like taking 5 turns to get someplace when you could have done it in 2, but I do like all the chord changes there. Now that you mention it, this may well be one of the longest chorus structures of any song...

TomatoTom123
09-30-2018, 07:04 PM
I like the verses very much, and expected not to like the choruses, but I actually do quite, they certainly keep you interested!!

WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance
09-30-2018, 08:39 PM
I like the verses very much, and expected not to like the choruses, but I actually do quite, they certainly keep you interested!!
That's the spirit! I think the fact that it's kind of challenging, makes it all the more enjoyable!

lucky2012
09-30-2018, 10:37 PM
This is actually a little , mini-majestic production and one that seems to be overlooked.

https://youtu.be/gtJS-_VteYI

"I Can't Make It Alone" has been a favorite since I first heard it.

There is definitely something "majestic" about the sound and feel of the track. I think a fine-tuned and polished version would have been a worthier follow-up to "Reflections" than "In and Out of Love". Diana's vocal is affectingly melancholy. The use of the theremin, harpsichord, horns & strings enhance the forlorn feeling of the song. (I personally would have liked the strings more prominent in the background immediately after the instrumental break for emphasis).

WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance
09-30-2018, 11:49 PM
"I Can't Make It Alone" has been a favorite since I first heard it.

There is definitely something "majestic" about the sound and feel of the track. I think a fine-tuned and polished version would have been a worthier follow-up to "Reflections" than "In and Out of Love". Diana's vocal is affectingly melancholy. The use of the theremin, harpsichord, horns & strings enhance the forlorn feeling of the song. (I personally would have liked the strings more prominent in the background immediately after the instrumental break for emphasis).

Really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this song. For certain, there is more substance, a bit more emotional weight in this song than "In And Out Of Love." Actually, the theremin here sounds much more "natural" here than on "Forever Came Today" where it comes across as more of a gimmick.

You cite another feature I hadn't considered: Diana's vocal. I like your take on it: affectingly melancholy. I'm listening to it now, and I didn't really notice the castanets on the intro and then again, at the beginning of the instrumental break (at least I think that's what's clacking away.) This song is so full of nice touches.

RanRan79
10-01-2018, 12:47 AM
I like "I Can't Make It Alone". Of the non singles, it's probably my second favorite, behind "Bah, Bah, Bah", on the album.

WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance
10-01-2018, 02:51 AM
I like "I Can't Make It Alone". Of the non singles, it's probably my second favorite, behind "Bah, Bah, Bah", on the album.

Really, the first side of the Reflections album is pretty good. "I'm Gonna Make It" is a nice tune- sounds very close to an H-D-H number. I can even get into "Forever Came Today" and "In And Out Of Love" (but that one is dangerously close to being way to lightweight.) "Bah, Bah, Bah" is wonderfully moody.

johnjeb
10-01-2018, 12:36 PM
I enjoy the entire Reflections album. I've always thought it was a great Pop album.

However, in recent years I find myself liking "I Can't Make It Alone" far less than I did in 1968. I get bored listening to it. I much prefer "I'm Gonna Make It". Bah-Bah-Bah is my favorite on Side 1, other than Reflections. But as I said I have enjoyed this album since it was released - in my Top 10, just barely.

sup_fan
10-01-2018, 01:01 PM
yeah i think the bouncy southern CA/sunshine pop sound of In and Out, Up Up and Away and Going All The Way, while not my favorite, does at least fit with this CA theme. Most of the released Side 1 is pretty strong. Side 2 is the weaker, although Bah is great. What the World and Then both should have been cut and alternate tracks, more in keeping with the theme used. Love Makes Me Do sort of works, IMO, even though it's not CA. Misery is a fav song of mine but frankly, it's not in keeping with the theme.

maybe an alt LP lineup could be

Reflections
I'm Gonna make it
Am I asking too much
In and out of love
can't shake it loose
ode to billie joe

Forever came today
Going all the way to true true love
I can't make it alone
Up Up and Away
a little breeze
bah bah bah

BigAl
10-02-2018, 08:58 AM
Musically, in my opinion, DRATS was a step-down from The Supremes, and the Reflections album…well…reflects this. The move to California, the loss of Florence, the slowdown and the departure of HDH, all worked to degrade the act and they tried to compensate by glossing the gals up, visually, to an absurd extent. By the time the Reflections album was being put together, HDH were pulling out old, inferior, compositions from their stacks and using weak covers and oddball songs as filler. As was pointed out, other producers might well have had unfinished tracks plopped into their laps to finish, and there was little cohesion among the songs. Even the cover was fiddled with a few times. The original front design contained pix of both Flo and Cindy, later replaced by Cindy alone prior to release, and Diane’s liner notes were altered a bit as well, with the new ones simply pasted over the old ones on the back on the initial release. “I Can’t Make It Alone” is a pleasant and unusual song. (I always liked the use of castanets in the intro. Possibly a nod to Spector?) Still, to me, like the rest of the album except for “Reflections,” its not a particularly strong number.

sup_fan
10-02-2018, 10:39 AM
don't really disagree with that Al. i don't think the tunes are as "complete" or powerful as on earlier LPs. but frankly i think the decline started a little earlier. I thought both A Go Go and HDH were not the strongest lps. and that mostly lies in the cover tunes. they're either perfect covers (This old heart, Shake Me Wake Me, I'll Turn to stone) or sort of crap (Sugar Pie, Heatwave, Sloopy).

if you think about it, More Hits is about the only complete HDH & Supremes work. where the producers were writing songs and and productions for the Sups. I realize Whisper was originally recorded for mary Wells but I'm taking creative license and overlooking that cuz it works so well for the sups lol

but WDOLG lp was only partially produced by HDH. Symphony was all HDH productions but 7 of the 12 songs are covers from outside motown. A Go Go is both full of covers AND half or so of songs are not by HDH. HDH is at least produced by the guys and all their songs but several are covers and they oddly went back and pulled 3 songs from way back in 64.

lucky2012
10-02-2018, 11:01 AM
don't really disagree with that Al. i don't think the tunes are as "complete" or powerful as on earlier LPs. but frankly i think the decline started a little earlier. I thought both A Go Go and HDH were not the strongest lps. and that mostly lies in the cover tunes. they're either perfect covers (This old heart, Shake Me Wake Me, I'll Turn to stone) or sort of crap (Sugar Pie, Heatwave, Sloopy).

if you think about it, More Hits is about the only complete HDH & Supremes work. where the producers were writing songs and and productions for the Sups. I realize Whisper was originally recorded for mary Wells but I'm taking creative license and overlooking that cuz it works so well for the sups lol

but WDOLG lp was only partially produced by HDH. Symphony was all HDH productions but 7 of the 12 songs are covers from outside motown. A Go Go is both full of covers AND half or so of songs are not by HDH. HDH is at least produced by the guys and all their songs but several are covers and they oddly went back and pulled 3 songs from way back in 64.
I have the same thoughts, sup_fan. More Hits was the original Supremes Sing HDH. And it was released the same year as Temptations Sing Smokey. I guess in 1965 Smokey was more noted as songwriter and producer than HDH.

IMO, More Hits and Symphony were the most completely realized Supremes studio albums. WDOLG is great, but is basically a compilation album. I've come to really appreciate Supremes Sing HDH more with the expanded edition this year from George & Harry & co.

sup_fan
10-02-2018, 12:23 PM
yep - for WDOLG, MH and Symphony, i've not redone the lps with my over playlist versions. and my fav is probably Where. it was my first so that holds special memories. and while a compilation, i love almost all of the tracks.

both A Go Go and Sing HDH, i'd tinker with the lineups a little to adjust a few things. replacing some songs, swapping some songs between the two, etc.

and then of course with the DRATS lps, i'd do a lot of shuffling.

for the 70s, i'd only do some minor tweaks. Maybe swap Baby Baby to New Ways and pull Na Na to Right On. Or leave RO as is and pull na Na off New ways and replace with Mind Body and Soul. I just don't think Na Na fits on NWBLS.

Touch lp is wonderful except for Time and Love. no idea what i'd swap for it

FJ - leave as is

Promises Kept - i have a few lineups for this one.

thommg
10-02-2018, 01:39 PM
Touch lp is wonderful except for Time and Love. no idea what i'd swap for it.

I don't know about recording dates but I would use And I Thought You Loved Me, which I feel should have been released back in the day, and maybe even as a single. Time & Love seems very out of place on that recording. BTW, The Supremes version of Time & Love shows up on a Laura Nyro compilation I just bought call Sasafrass and Moonshine.

lucky2012
10-02-2018, 03:06 PM
yep - for WDOLG, MH and Symphony, i've not redone the lps with my over playlist versions. and my fav is probably Where. it was my first so that holds special memories. and while a compilation, i love almost all of the tracks.

My playlist versions for these pretty much keep the song lists intact, only changing the track sequences. More Hits was my first album (by anyone). :)


both A Go Go and Sing HDH, i'd tinker with the lineups a little to adjust a few things. replacing some songs, swapping some songs between the two, etc.
I bring Heat Wave & Same Old Song over to A Go Go and switch Put Yourself In My Place and Baby, I Need Your Lovin' to Sing HDH.


and then of course with the DRATS lps, i'd do a lot of shuffling.
Indeed.


for the 70s, i'd only do some minor tweaks. Maybe swap Baby Baby to New Ways and pull Na Na to Right On. Or leave RO as is and pull na Na off New ways and replace with Mind Body and Soul. I just don't think Na Na fits on NWBLS.
Good calls on Baby, Baby and Na Na Hey Hey. I'd also transfer Is There A Place to Right On. I think Lovin' Country on New Ways would help soften its metallic edges.


Touch lp is wonderful except for Time and Love. no idea what i'd swap for it

Unlike you and others, I think Time and Love fits Touch. The album, for me, was a departure for the Supremes in terms of song lyrics, themes and sensibilities. (This Is The Story, Here Comes the Sunrise, Johnny Raven, Love It Came To Me This Time, and especially that awesome Nathan Jones).Even the cover (which I love) departs from the old Motown glamor and chic in favor of naturalism. 1971 was the year of Carole King and Tapestry and Joni Mitchell and Blue. Time and Love, after all, is by Laura Nyro, one of the best singer/songwriters of the time.


FJ - leave as is
Yes!


Promises Kept - i have a few lineups for this one.
I'll have to acquaint myself with Promises Kept, Mind Body & Soul and And I Thought You Love Me.

Boogiedown
10-02-2018, 03:44 PM
Thanks for posting this W&W, had not heard it before.
Here's my initial problem with it:
According to lyrics, Diana is devastated such that she repeatedly laments that she can't make it in her own , yet she's singing it as if it's while she's skipping through a field of daisies on a sunny day.🤔 For me the vibes don't match.

Love the break though just past the two minute mark, when all the vocals go away. W/ Wah wah. Would like about two or three more minutes of that!!

BigAl
10-02-2018, 08:38 PM
Listening to this about fifty times, now that we’re back on it, I have to say, in addition to the great castanets, I also like the harpsichord and the theremin. Obviously, this could have easily served as a follow-up to “Forever Came Today” -- had “Forever Came Today” been a hit.

sup_fan
10-03-2018, 12:13 AM
While I would never say ICMIA would be of the caliber of Reflections I do thing itís a more commercial song than Forever. Itís a more straight forward melody and song structure.

144man
10-04-2018, 07:13 PM
Yeah, the chorus is a bit like taking 5 turns to get someplace when you could have done it in 2, but I do like all the chord changes there. Now that you mention it, this may well be one of the longest chorus structures of any song...

And yet I really liked "Forever Came Today".

I think these songs indicate the direction HDH were going to take at Invictus, particularly with Freda Payne's "I'm Not Getting Any Better/ Suddenly It's Yesterday" medley being far too complicated in structure.