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  1. #1

    Why So Few Covers of Supremes Songs?

    Okay, only if you promise not to turn this into a flame war, can you respond to this thread!

    I have often wondered why there are so few covers of Supremes songs compared to other songs in the Motown catalog.

    Of course there are a few exceptions. "You Can’t Hurry Love" by Phil Collins. I remember a slow version of "When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through his Eyes" by maybe a C&W type singer...Lacy J. Dalton or someone like that maybe? There was a version of "Where Did our Love Go" by an R&B singer with a falsetto voice...Donnie Somebody... But there aren’t very many.

    There are far more examples of other artists’ material being done by outside artists. Marvin Gaye had "How Sweet it Is" by James Taylor, and even "Grapevine" done by CCR after both he and Gladys Knight had hit with it. The Beatles did "Money," "You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me," and "Please Mr. Postman," and "Postman" also went back to No. 1 with the Carpenters years later. Didn’t Tina Turner do with someone like Bryan Adams or Mick Jagger "Dancing in the Street"?

    But I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone else sing "Baby Love," "Come See About Me," "My World is Empty Without You," even "I Hear a Symphony" which sounds like a standard, and "Love is Like an Itching in My Heart," which is a real stomper and one you think someone else would want to sing the hell out of.

    I think even within the Motown stable other artists’ material got covered more than the Supremes material did. One exception is the Marvelettes untypically raucous version of "Someday We’ll Be Together," which I do love.

    My own opinion is that these songs were so tailored to Diane’s voice that no one else could really do them credit. Hearing them done on record by Jean or in person by Mary, to me, they really lack something. Admittedly, Diane is not a "singer’s singer" but her voice had the special quality which really put these songs over, in my opinion.

    I’d also like to hear yours, but please let’s not turn this into a Diane vs. Mary thing!

  2. #2
    Kenneth, there's been plenty of covers of Supremes songs. Speaking of which, Bonnie Pointer covered "Come See About Me"

    Vanilla Fudge did "You Keep Me Hangin' On" (as did Kim Wilde).
    Jose Feliciano covered "My World Is Empty Without You ( so did Barbara McNair and others)
    Bette Midler did "Up the Ladder to the Roof" (it has been performed by countless College and H.S. vocal groups and choruses over the years).
    Bananarama covered "Nathan Jones"
    Donnie Elbert did "Where Did Our Love Go?" etc,etc,
    Melissa Manchester covered "Bad Weather"
    Jackson Five covered "Touch"

  3. #3
    Wow, I had no idea there were that many. I do remember the Vanilla Fudge now that you mention that one, and yes I think I remember the Bananarama as well.

    Still, I think there's less than one would expect considering how popular these songs were.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    Okay, only if you promise not to turn this into a flame war, can you respond to this thread!

    I have often wondered why there are so few covers of Supremes songs compared to other songs in the Motown catalog.

    Of course there are a few exceptions. "You Can’t Hurry Love" by Phil Collins. I remember a slow version of "When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through his Eyes" by maybe a C&W type singer...Lacy J. Dalton or someone like that maybe? There was a version of "Where Did our Love Go" by an R&B singer with a falsetto voice...Donnie Somebody... But there aren’t very many.

    There are far more examples of other artists’ material being done by outside artists. Marvin Gaye had "How Sweet it Is" by James Taylor, and even "Grapevine" done by CCR after both he and Gladys Knight had hit with it. The Beatles did "Money," "You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me," and "Please Mr. Postman," and "Postman" also went back to No. 1 with the Carpenters years later. Didn’t Tina Turner do with someone like Bryan Adams or Mick Jagger "Dancing in the Street"?

    But I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone else sing "Baby Love," "Come See About Me," "My World is Empty Without You," even "I Hear a Symphony" which sounds like a standard, and "Love is Like an Itching in My Heart," which is a real stomper and one you think someone else would want to sing the hell out of.

    I think even within the Motown stable other artists’ material got covered more than the Supremes material did. One exception is the Marvelettes untypically raucous version of "Someday We’ll Be Together," which I do love.

    My own opinion is that these songs were so tailored to Diane’s voice that no one else could really do them credit. Hearing them done on record by Jean or in person by Mary, to me, they really lack something. Admittedly, Diane is not a "singer’s singer" but her voice had the special quality which really put these songs over, in my opinion.

    I’d also like to hear yours, but please let’s not turn this into a Diane vs. Mary thing!
    Soft Cell did Where did our love go with Tainted love Kenneth.

    Fondly,

    Roberta

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    I have often wondered why there are so few covers of Supremes songs compared to other songs in the Motown catalog.

    Of course there are a few exceptions. "You Can’t Hurry Love" by Phil Collins. I remember a slow version of "When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through his Eyes" by maybe a C&W type singer...Lacy J. Dalton or someone like that maybe? There was a version of "Where Did our Love Go" by an R&B singer with a falsetto voice...Donnie Somebody... But there aren’t very many.

    But I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone else sing "Baby Love," "Come See About Me," "My World is Empty Without You," even "I Hear a Symphony" which sounds like a standard, and "Love is Like an Itching in My Heart," which is a real stomper and one you think someone else would want to sing the hell out of.
    When the Lovelights Start Shinning - Dusty Springfield
    Where Did Our Love Go - Donnie Elbert, Little Anthony & the Imperials
    Come See About Me - Fantastic Four
    Stop In the Name of Love - Kim Weston, Isley Brothers
    Back In My Arms Again - High Inergy
    I Hear A Symphony - Barbara McNair, Isley Brothers
    My World Is Empty - Stevie Wonder, Barbara McNair, Originals, Mary Wells
    Love Is Like An Itching - Good Girls
    You Keep Me Hanging On - Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Vanilla Fudge
    Reflections - Luther Vandross
    Forever Came Today - Jackson Five
    The Composer - The Miracles
    Someday - The Marvelettes

    You are right about very little coverage by artists not on the label.

  6. #6
    Well, there definitely are more than I thought...

    I actually forgot two of my all time favorites...Margie Josephs' takes on "My World is Empty Without You" and "Stop! in the Name of Love."

  7. #7
    The Vows - Buttered Popcorn
    The Velvelettes - Long, Gone Lover
    Sandi & the Accents - Let Me Go the Right Way
    Rosetta Hightower - Stoned Love
    Margie Joseph - Stop! In the Name of Love
    Freda Payne - Come See About Me
    Jackson Five, Stevie Wonder - I Hear A Symphony
    Dixie Chicks, Stray Cats, Human Nature - You Can't Hurry Love (Nina Zilli - L'amore verra)
    Sweet Sensation - Love Child
    Mica Paris - I'm Gonna Make You Love Me

    etc., etc., etc.

  8. #8
    Kim Wilde= You keep me hanging on
    The Good Girls- Love is like an itching in my heart
    Sweet Sensation- Love Child
    Last edited by skooldem1; 11-18-2013 at 09:07 PM.

  9. #9
    Here a few more covers of Supremes songs, Motown and not...

    Back In My Arms Again-Nicolette Larson, Michael Bolton
    Come See About Me-Jr Walker and the Allstars, Nela Dodds, Barbara Mason, The Newbeats, Bonnie Pointer

    My World Is Empty Without You-Barbara McNair, Vikki Carr, Mary Wells, Margie Joseph
    Any Girl In Love (Knows what I'm Going Through)-Kim Weston
    Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart-Nona Hendrix
    A Breathtaking Guy-Marvelettes
    Forever Came Today-Shalamar
    Going Down For The Third Time-Phoebe Snow
    The Happening-Trini Lopez, Herb Alpert and the Brass
    I Hear A Symphony-Lesley Uggams, Isley Brothers
    Keep An Eye-Gladys Knight and the Pips
    Love Child-Gloria Lynn
    Love Is Here (And Now You're Gone)-The Lettermen, Tami Lynn, Donnie Elbert
    Nathan Jones-Paul Davis, Nicolette Larson
    Remove This Doubt-Elvis Costello
    Stop! In The Name Of Love-Johnny Rivers, Gene Pitney, Margie Joseph
    You Keep me Hanging On-Wilson Pickett, Jackie DeShannon, Kim Wilde

  10. #10
    smark21 Guest
    A few more to add to the list:

    Remove this Doubt – Elvis Costello
    Touch – Jackson 5
    “You Keep Me Hanging On” was covered as a medley with The Smiths’ song “Stop Me” by Mark Ronson in 2007.
    Up the Ladder to the Roof - the Nylons and quite a few college glee groups—just check youtube..probably the most performed Supremes cover song in the past decade.
    I Keep It Hid – Linda Ronstandt, although I think another singer performed it before The Supremes recorded it for the Webb album
    You Turn Me Around – Cheryl Ladd

    BTW, David Bowie recorded his cover of Dancin’ in the Streets with Mick Jagger for Live Aid. No Tina Turner or Bryan Adams on that one.

  11. #11
    Jimmy Webb did his own recording of "I Keep It Hid", as well as The Vogues, Ray Charles and Vikki Carr

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    Wow, I had no idea there were that many. I do remember the Vanilla Fudge now that you mention that one, and yes I think I remember the Bananarama as well.

    Still, I think there's less than one would expect considering how popular these songs were.
    Reba recorded You Keep Me Hanging On. I saw her perform it live a couple of times and did a superb rendition.

  13. #13
    You Can't Hurry Love Phil Collins

  14. #14
    thomas96 Guest
    "Because nobody can sing what they sang!"

  15. #15
    Very interesting...and even if I was wrong in my opening premise, I'm glad I started the thread because I will now go seek out some of these reinterpretations. Thanks all!

  16. #16
    @MidnightJohnny,

    Hey, you know this might be a good theme for one of your Tuesday night shows!

    Kenneth

  17. #17
    I was just listening to "Touch" by the Originals. It is very nice.


    Quote Originally Posted by smark21 View Post
    A few more to add to the list:

    Remove this Doubt – Elvis Costello
    Touch – Jackson 5
    “You Keep Me Hanging On” was covered as a medley with The Smiths’ song “Stop Me” by Mark Ronson in 2007.
    Up the Ladder to the Roof - the Nylons and quite a few college glee groups—just check youtube..probably the most performed Supremes cover song in the past decade.
    I Keep It Hid – Linda Ronstandt, although I think another singer performed it before The Supremes recorded it for the Webb album
    You Turn Me Around – Cheryl Ladd

    BTW, David Bowie recorded his cover of Dancin’ in the Streets with Mick Jagger for Live Aid. No Tina Turner or Bryan Adams on that one.

  18. #18
    There's even been some punk garage band covers of several of The Supremes signature recordings by bands which escape me at the moment, but the women was certainly "well covered" in many musical gendres, not to mention tons of instrumental covers, with whole lps by the Living Strings, etc.

    There even was a little bit of "You Keep Me Hanging On," woven into a medley by Tim Buckley on one of his live recordings!
    Last edited by R. Mark Desjardins; 11-19-2013 at 01:33 AM.

  19. #19
    A misstep if ever there was one--on the Motown label itself:

    Tony Martin/ASK ANY MAN

  20. #20
    I think perhaps there are quite a few covers of Supremes songs; but I too thought, like Kenneth, that the numbers were pretty sparse.

    I think perhaps there are quite a few covers but there are very few REALLY SUCCESSFUL covers.

    And that might be because Diana's voice is so distinct that once she has a hit with a song unless you completely and totally redo it, you can't ever get that original out of the public consciousness. A complete redo would be what Vanilla Fudge did to You Keep Me Hangin On or what Diana did to Ain't No Mountain High Enough.

  21. #21
    I don't think covers of Supremes songs are that sparse as all the examples above show. And some of these covers were (commercially) quite successful, particularly Phil Collin's "You Can't Hurry Love" (#10 in the US, #1 in many other countries) and Kim Wilde's "You Keep Me Hanging On" (#1 in the US). Most of my friends at that time never realized that those songs were Supremes covers. The Hollies did "Stop! In the Name of Love" in 1983, and it was their last single to chart on US Billboard (#29). That song was so famously attached to the Supremes, that my friends did know that ;-). In interviews around that time, Phil Collins would always say that YCHL was his tribute to the Motown sound -- and not to the Supremes... which I always thought was unnecessarily uncool.

    I do prefer those covers that really give a song a new interpretation, such as the Supremes covers by the grunge band Afghan Wigs: "Come See About Me" and "My World Is Empty Without You". The lyrics of the songs become much more depressing as they already are because the upbeat Supremes/Motown sound is missing.

    In his book Soul Covers, Michael Awkward quite extensively discussed Phoebe Show's cover of the Supremes "Going Down For the Third Time" -- including a very fine analysis of the Supremes sound in comparison to the other Motown acts.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    @MidnightJohnny,

    Hey, you know this might be a good theme for one of your Tuesday night shows!

    Kenneth
    Kenneth...actually I have done (and probably will do again) a number of shows devoted to non-Motown artists covering Motown songs.

  23. #23
    A few more, just in case they were missed:

    "It's All Been Said Before" - Donny and Marie
    "Back in My Arms Again" - High Inergy

    Here's also a website that might be of help:

    http://www.whosampled.com/The-Supremes/covered/?sp=1

  24. #24
    Debbie Boone and the boone sisters did a cover of Lovelight on an lp i have from the 70s lol.

  25. #25
    Another one that is missed:
    Hugh Masekela did "You Keep Me Hangin' On and was released as a single and is also on the Motown Singles Collection Boxset Vol 10 (1970) from the Chisa Label.

  26. #26
    There are plenty of covers, of course. What really counts as a Supremes cover? They seemed to cover other's material more than they had of their own in the Diana Ross days. As for Motown artists "covering" Supremes you only have to look on Don't Forget The Motor City.

    A good place to look for many Motown covers are the back catalogues of Dusty Springfield and Lulu for example e.g. http://www.dustyspringfield.org.uk/f...hp?f=33&t=1154

    Well worth a mention here, though, are:
    There's No Stopping Us Now - Tina Charles/Wild Honey
    Stop! In The Name Of Love - The Hollies
    Baby Love - Tammi Terrell
    I Hear A Symphony - Lamont Dozier
    Where Did Our Love Go - Lamont Dozier
    Stop In The Name Of Love - Lamont Dozier
    My World Is Empty Without You - Lamont Dozier
    Baby Love - Lamont Dozier
    Reflections - Lamont Dozier

    Name:  lamont Dozier - Reflections Of.jpg
Views: 1624
Size:  9.4 KB

    Then there are Ian Levine Motorcity covers too?

  27. #27
    Yeah , well the group that covered more Supremes songs than any other artists.....The FLOS! They covered much of the Supremes hits songs on their various CD's.

  28. #28
    I really don't care for anybody else singing The Supremes songs. Except for Jr Walker and the All Stars on "Come See about me".. I love both versions of this song.

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by marybrewster View Post

    Here's also a website that might be of help:

    http://www.whosampled.com/The-Supremes/covered/?sp=1
    Thanks, marybrewster, that site is great.

    I remember seeing a Theresa Brewer album back in the mid-sixties that had "Where Did Our Love Go". I think that was the first cover of a Supremes' song that I ever saw.

    I'm glad a lot of glee clubs are doing Ladder but they appear to be more similar to the Bette Midler arrangement rather than to the superb original. I was so glad when Bette included it in her mid-Seventies show and is included on her Live At Last album. I had read the review prior to seeing the show so I knew she included it in her act. I wish I hadn't read the review and had been surprised. I just love that song.

    I once heard a dance version of Reflections that I could never find. I thought it was by a male group with a name starting with the letter "M". Checking out this website of covers I see that a female group called Ebony from 1980 did a decent version of Reflections. Maybe that was the version I heard. Brain cells not what they used to be, I'm afraid.

  30. #30
    Luther Vandross- Reflections

  31. #31
    smark21 Guest
    Maybe another reason a number of the Ross era Supremes hits have not been covered very often (outside of Motown acts covering each other, Dozier’s album of his own songs, and The FLOS) may be because a lot of the hits portray the woman telling the story as a victim of love and men. You Keep Me Hangin’ On is one of the rare Ross led Supremes hits where the woman overcomes the victimization and asserts herself by screaming at the guy to get out of her life. So between the lyrics/story and the undeniably good music, it makes sense that it would be one of the most popular Supremes songs for other acts to cover.

  32. #32
    Seems in the end there are a lot of covers; or at least quite a few; many of them forgettable; very few of them memorable; next to none living up to the masterful quality of the originals; and that might be the reason we don't think there are so many.

  33. #33
    Someday We''ll Be Together (Instrumental AC #27 1970) Bert Kaempfert.

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by johnjeb View Post
    Thanks, marybrewster, that site is great.

    I remember seeing a Theresa Brewer album back in the mid-sixties that had "Where Did Our Love Go". I think that was the first cover of a Supremes' song that I ever saw.

    I'm glad a lot of glee clubs are doing Ladder but they appear to be more similar to the Bette Midler arrangement rather than to the superb original. I was so glad when Bette included it in her mid-Seventies show and is included on her Live At Last album. I had read the review prior to seeing the show so I knew she included it in her act. I wish I hadn't read the review and had been surprised. I just love that song.

    I once heard a dance version of Reflections that I could never find. I thought it was by a male group with a name starting with the letter "M". Checking out this website of covers I see that a female group called Ebony from 1980 did a decent version of Reflections. Maybe that was the version I heard. Brain cells not what they used to be, I'm afraid.

  35. #35
    Last edited by blueskies; 11-20-2013 at 02:12 PM.

  36. #36
    smark21 Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by jobeterob View Post
    Seems in the end there are a lot of covers; or at least quite a few; many of them forgettable; very few of them memorable; next to none living up to the masterful quality of the originals; and that might be the reason we don't think there are so many.
    Or else not many Supremes fans went on to become musicians who wanted to pay homage to the group by covering their songs, unlike other artists.

  37. #37
    There was a rough and ready version of "Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart" by TIMOTHY WILSON that gained some popularity in 1970s Britain ..


    And RALPH CARTER did a nifty version of it as well ...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcbB98dIb3E

    Roger

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by smark21 View Post
    Maybe another reason a number of the Ross era Supremes hits have not been covered very often (outside of Motown acts covering each other, Dozier’s album of his own songs, and The FLOS) may be because a lot of the hits portray the woman telling the story as a victim of love and men. You Keep Me Hangin’ On is one of the rare Ross led Supremes hits where the woman overcomes the victimization and asserts herself by screaming at the guy to get out of her life.
    My father was an abusive alcoholic. The very last "whoopin" I received from him was for turning up the volume and singing this song too loudly after my mother had filed for divorce. He was smart enough to understand what I was saying through this song.

  39. #39
    There was also a version of "Love Is Here and Now You're Gone" by MICHAEL JACKSON ..

    This was released as a 7" in the U.K. on the "B" side of his version of "Ain't No Sunshine", which reached #8 on the U.K. charts in late summer 1972.

    Funnily, earlier that year the version of "Love Is Here And Now You're Gone" by DONNIE ELBERT had also been a "B" side hit as the flip of "I Can't Help Myself" which got to #11 on the U.K. chart in the spring.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLLVDbmsLaU

    Ironically both of these charted HIGHER than the original version by THE SUPREMES which only got to #17 on the U.K. charts in the spring of 1967.

    Roger

  40. #40
    Back in my arms again: Genya Raven, the forester sisters, Flint.
    didnt martha reeves do a version of come see about me?

  41. #41
    Nothing but heartaches. I found this one of spotify sung by Girl from NYC which is on Philadelphia soul rarities volume 2. Michael Mcdonald also did 2 CD's full of motown covers including reflections and i'm gonna make you love me.
    Last edited by TYK1986; 11-24-2013 at 08:17 PM.

  42. #42
    Thanks for posting. Not a bad effort as I just love the slight rock edge of itching.

  43. #43
    Michael did a great job ... I was wondering the other day why I don't hear much of his music on the radio...could be wrong. His off the wall brings back fond memories.

  44. #44
    RossHolloway Guest
    The group is far from forgotten. Stop! In the Name of Love.


  45. #45
    RossHolloway Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by nabob View Post
    My father was an abusive alcoholic. The very last "whoopin" I received from him was for turning up the volume and singing this song too loudly after my mother had filed for divorce. He was smart enough to understand what I was saying through this song.
    I don't know if I should laugh or feel sad after reading this.

  46. #46
    Bad Weather - Mathilde Santing, Young Disciples, Melissa Manchester
    Love Is Here and Now You're Gone - Doris Duke
    My World Is Empty Without You - Della Reese, Lee Fields, Diamanda Galás
    Baby Love - Tim Curry
    You Keep Me Hangin' On - Ken Boothe (move your hips)
    Someday We'll Be Together - King Curtis

  47. #47
    So many posters have gone

  48. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by midnight johnny View Post
    Jimmy Webb did his own recording of "I Keep It Hid", as well as The Vogues, Ray Charles and Vikki Carr
    I am a Vikki Carr fan and bought her Love Story album in 1971. I never realized that it contained "I Keep It Hid". O think the Supremes rendition was released a year later. I just listened to Vikki's version on YouTube and she does a nice version of it. The Supremes cover of it is a favorite of mine.

    Vikki also did a nice cover of MY WORLD IS EMPTY which a ballad arrangement. It would be nice if Diana did an arrangement like this in her show


  49. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by Edgar View Post
    Bad Weather - Mathilde Santing, Young Disciples, Melissa Manchester
    Love Is Here and Now You're Gone - Doris Duke
    My World Is Empty Without You - Della Reese, Lee Fields, Diamanda Galás
    Baby Love - Tim Curry
    You Keep Me Hangin' On - Ken Boothe (move your hips)
    Someday We'll Be Together - King Curtis
    Wow, I never knew Mathilde Santing did Bad Weather... Thanks for pointing that out!

  50. #50
    The Jackson 5 covered enough songs by The Supremes they could have had a "Jackson 5 sing the Supremes!" album. They did:

    I hear a symphony
    Touch
    Sunny Boy (I'm your sunny one)
    Keep an eye
    You can't hurry love
    Reflections
    Forever came today
    The Young Folks

    Plus Michael covered "Love is here, and now you're gone"

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