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  1. #1

    Which songs of The Supremes would you have given a different lead?

    Florence Ballard should have been the lead singer of "Stop in the Name of Love" and "Love is a Itching in My Heart Heart" and Sam Cooke's "We're Having a Party". Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Hmmm.interesting..disagree on most as I think the Ross led hits are classics....
    Album tracks yes.....would have given each a lead to every album.
    Flo could of kept People...
    To bad Flo could not return to the group in the 70s.....Cindy came n went a few times.....

  3. #3
    I wouldn't want to mess with the DMF/DMC era songs too much, though I think a duet of sorts between Diana and Florence on "Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart" could have been pretty slick.

    Off the top of my head, I'd give "Cheap Lovin'" to Lynda and "Early Morning Love" along with the full lead on "This Is Why I Believe In You" to Scherrie.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Thornton View Post
    I wouldn't want to mess with the DMF/DMC era songs too much, though I think a duet of sorts between Diana and Florence on "Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart" could have been pretty slick.

    Off the top of my head, I'd give "Cheap Lovin'" to Lynda and "Early Morning Love" along with the full lead on "This Is Why I Believe In You" to Scherrie.
    I would also have given Scherrie the full lead on He's my man . That could have hit big had Scherrie's superior voice taken the lead.

  5. #5
    It would have been interesting to hear Florence tear into “Going Down For The Third Time."

  6. #6
    I would have put Mary on lead for "My World Is Empty Without You"
    Florence on "Nothing But Heartaches"
    Add Cindy Birdsong lead on "Floy Joy"
    Florence on "These Boots Are Made for Walking"
    Add Mary and Lynda Laurence leads on "All I Want"
    Mary Wilson the entire lead on "Touch"
    Florence on "Ask Any Girl"
    Cindy Birdsong on "Precious Little Things"

  7. #7
    Come and get these memories - Florence
    He's My Man - Scherrie

  8. #8
    I agree that the big hits really needed to stay with Diana. but there's so much more within the albums they could have done. you easily could have M and F each do 1 lead song. also i think they needed to do more group leads and trading lines - like Breathtaking, Makes No Difference Now. Below i've listed out the tracks that could be altered.


    WDOLG album
    I'm Giving You Your Freedom - Mary
    Long Gone lover - flo full lead

    More Hits
    Whisper You Love Me - Mary
    I'm So Glad Heartaches Don't Last - Flo

    Symphony
    Wonderful - Flo
    Unchained melody - Mary. on bridge Diana would do "Lonely rivers flow" Flo would do "lonely rivers sigh"

    A Go Go
    Hang On Sloopy - Flo

    Sing HDH
    Going Down Third Time - Flo
    Remove this doubt - Mary
    Love is in our hearts - mary
    There's no stopping us now - all 3 girls trading off lead lines and verses

    R&H
    Johnny One Note - Flo
    My Funny Valentine - Mary
    Manhattan - Flo full lead

    From Broadway to Hollywood
    Stranger in the night - Flo
    Tender is the night - Mary

    Reflections
    Love makes me do - Mary
    Bah Bah Bah - Mary
    Misery - each girl do lead lines and trade off

    Love child
    he's my sunny boy - cindy
    does your mama know - mary

    Let Sunshine
    Will This Be The Day - Cindy
    With a child's heart - mary
    Hey western union - trading lines
    aquarius/sunshine - trading lines

    Cream
    beginning of the end - mary
    till johnny comes - cindy

    Touch
    touch - mary full lead
    Have i lost you - cindy

    Floy Joy
    FJ - trading leads
    Auto - trading leads
    Precious - cindy lead

    Jimmy Webb
    Cheap loving - lynda

    Sup 75
    He's my man - scherrie majority of lead, with some trading of lines with cindy and mary

  9. #9
    As some others have said, I would leave the hits alone. I can't imagine them being done any better. Re album tracks, I think Mary might have done a good job on ODE TO BILLIE JOE.

  10. #10
    Hey, sup_fan. You've obviously put a lot of thought into this! Very intriguing ideas and suggestions. Although I do love Diana's leads on almost all of them. Your suggestions for switching off leads would have worked, I think. I especially like your ideas for Unchained Melody and There's No Stopping Us Now. I would add Flo lead on These Boots Are Made For Walkin'.
    I don't think any lead changes on the DRATS albums, starting with Love Child would have even been considered!

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by lucky2012 View Post
    Hey, sup_fan. You've obviously put a lot of thought into this! Very intriguing ideas and suggestions. Although I do love Diana's leads on almost all of them. Your suggestions for switching off leads would have worked, I think. I especially like your ideas for Unchained Melody and There's No Stopping Us Now. I would add Flo lead on These Boots Are Made For Walkin'.
    I don't think any lead changes on the DRATS albums, starting with Love Child would have even been considered!
    lol well i don't know if any lead changes would have EVER been considered lol. but just thinking what might have worked. had things not been SO lopsided, it might have been a more pleasant time. frankly diana's star is so bright, giving a little attention to M, F and C would not/could not have diminished her in any way. Rather, you might have helped make things easier and more pleasant for everyone. less stress and animosity. At least give the other girls SOME things to do and give them some credit and respect for their talents.

    So given them a few bones here and there would have simply elevated the group and not reduced Diana's celebrity any

    I didn't go into the idea of swapping out songs. For instance, Stormy might have been a great Mary lead and fit in well with Cream of Crop. And then keep Diana's stunning lead on Beginning of End. for the most part, it wasn't that Diana wasn't appropriate for the lead. just that F, M or C could have also handled it

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by reese View Post
    As some others have said, I would leave the hits alone. I can't imagine them being done any better. Re album tracks, I think Mary might have done a good job on ODE TO BILLIE JOE.
    Oh, that would have been perfect.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    I agree that the big hits really needed to stay with Diana. but there's so much more within the albums they could have done. you easily could have M and F each do 1 lead song. also i think they needed to do more group leads and trading lines - like Breathtaking, Makes No Difference Now. Below i've listed out the tracks that could be altered.


    WDOLG album
    I'm Giving You Your Freedom - Mary
    Long Gone lover - flo full lead

    More Hits
    Whisper You Love Me - Mary
    I'm So Glad Heartaches Don't Last - Flo

    Symphony
    Wonderful - Flo
    Unchained melody - Mary. on bridge Diana would do "Lonely rivers flow" Flo would do "lonely rivers sigh"

    A Go Go
    Hang On Sloopy - Flo

    Sing HDH
    Going Down Third Time - Flo
    Remove this doubt - Mary
    Love is in our hearts - mary
    There's no stopping us now - all 3 girls trading off lead lines and verses

    R&H
    Johnny One Note - Flo
    My Funny Valentine - Mary
    Manhattan - Flo full lead

    From Broadway to Hollywood
    Stranger in the night - Flo
    Tender is the night - Mary

    Reflections
    Love makes me do - Mary
    Bah Bah Bah - Mary
    Misery - each girl do lead lines and trade off

    Love child
    he's my sunny boy - cindy
    does your mama know - mary

    Let Sunshine
    Will This Be The Day - Cindy
    With a child's heart - mary
    Hey western union - trading lines
    aquarius/sunshine - trading lines

    Cream
    beginning of the end - mary
    till johnny comes - cindy

    Touch
    touch - mary full lead
    Have i lost you - cindy

    Floy Joy
    FJ - trading leads
    Auto - trading leads
    Precious - cindy lead

    Jimmy Webb
    Cheap loving - lynda

    Sup 75
    He's my man - scherrie majority of lead, with some trading of lines with cindy and mary
    I remember getting tired of hearing Diana Ross on every song on the album. The albums after 1967, I could not listen to but once, then in 1970 I couldn't listen to the whole albums enough!

  14. #14
    Florence would've SLAYED "I'm Standing at the Crossroads of Love". I loved Diana singing it but imagine Flo on it!

    I could see Mary doing "Any Girl In Love".

    Mary should've been the sole lead singer of "Touch". Jean and Cindy could do the ad-libs and Jean doing the bridge.

    If I think of anymore, I'll bring it up.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by midnightman View Post
    Florence would've SLAYED "I'm Standing at the Crossroads of Love". I loved Diana singing it but imagine Flo on it!

    I could see Mary doing "Any Girl In Love".

    Mary should've been the sole lead singer of "Touch". Jean and Cindy could do the ad-libs and Jean doing the bridge.

    If I think of anymore, I'll bring it up.
    Crossroads is a good one! hadn't thought of that one

  16. #16
    Motown made the right choice in featuring Diana Ross vocals on the group's albums through early 1970. Even on the "fairest" comparison -- It Makes No Difference Now, where each takes a turn as lead vocalist -- Diana's voice and interpretive skills are the ones that make the recording something truly special.

    On most of Florence's other lead vocal recordings, including the somewhat vaunted Christmas solo recordings, she revealed poor or sloppy enunciation and a rather pinched, painful sound, Ain't That Good News being an exception to the rule, rather than an example of consistent capability.

    On Mary's leads, such as those on The Tears, Our Day Will Come and Falling In Love With Love, she proved competent and comfortable, but her voice and her delivery were not compelling. On the latter two of these, she maybe reminded the listener that he or she had heard a memorable recording of the song by someone else or that the writers had composed a whole body of incredible material, but her versions were not close to being definitive statements; they were just there.

    Certainly Mary (and Florence) were adept at shaping solid background support, but at the time, they demonstrated little evidence of having important interpretive skills.
    So Motown, again correctly, featured Diana, who had an uncanny ability and intuitive feel for presenting lyrics. On Ode To Billie Joe, for example, the singer needs to project sadness, irony, compassion, resignation and perhaps a few other emotions simultaneously, and neither Mary nor Florence could do that in a convincing manner.

    Florence hit the right notes in People, but did little to convey the meaning of the words she was singing. Similarly, Mary, on Son Of A Preacher Man, injected little if any indication that she was recalling a personal experience; she was mostly on target with the rhythm and melody, as a proficient karaoke participant might be, but her occasional improvisations contributed nothing positive that would have suggested she had any connection whatsoever with the story she was relating.

    Yes, some fans may have been interested to hear Mary, Florence or Cindy contribute a solo here or there, but most likely the results would have been lackluster and would have done nothing to advance the positive impact of the group. A mediocre rendition would have seemed like what it was, album filler, and the general public would have lost interest in the group far more quickly. And there was no reason to have Mary or Florence attempt lead vocals on single releases; Diana's voice was a proven commodity at that time, and Motown, correctly, did not want to end the string of hits by featuring a so-so, unrecognizable voice.

    Once Diana left the Supremes, Mary and Cindy could have/should have been given opportunities, especially as Jean became a bit erratic, as on the Jimmy Webb album and in some earlier live performances. This would have made the group less reliant upon any one voice and might have forced Jean to be a bit more disciplined.

  17. #17
    I always thought Mary would kill "Yesterday" during their live concerts. Her sultry airy voice would fit the song like a glove. And the "Millie, Rose and Mame" medley with each one playing a different character.
    I wouldn't change the lead on any big hit tho, they are classics with Diana and Jean doing them.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by benross View Post
    Motown made the right choice in featuring Diana Ross vocals on the group's albums through early 1970. Even on the "fairest" comparison -- It Makes No Difference Now, where each takes a turn as lead vocalist -- Diana's voice and interpretive skills are the ones that make the recording something truly special.

    On most of Florence's other lead vocal recordings, including the somewhat vaunted Christmas solo recordings, she revealed poor or sloppy enunciation and a rather pinched, painful sound, Ain't That Good News being an exception to the rule, rather than an example of consistent capability.

    On Mary's leads, such as those on The Tears, Our Day Will Come and Falling In Love With Love, she proved competent and comfortable, but her voice and her delivery were not compelling. On the latter two of these, she maybe reminded the listener that he or she had heard a memorable recording of the song by someone else or that the writers had composed a whole body of incredible material, but her versions were not close to being definitive statements; they were just there.

    Certainly Mary (and Florence) were adept at shaping solid background support, but at the time, they demonstrated little evidence of having important interpretive skills.
    So Motown, again correctly, featured Diana, who had an uncanny ability and intuitive feel for presenting lyrics. On Ode To Billie Joe, for example, the singer needs to project sadness, irony, compassion, resignation and perhaps a few other emotions simultaneously, and neither Mary nor Florence could do that in a convincing manner.

    Florence hit the right notes in People, but did little to convey the meaning of the words she was singing. Similarly, Mary, on Son Of A Preacher Man, injected little if any indication that she was recalling a personal experience; she was mostly on target with the rhythm and melody, as a proficient karaoke participant might be, but her occasional improvisations contributed nothing positive that would have suggested she had any connection whatsoever with the story she was relating.

    Yes, some fans may have been interested to hear Mary, Florence or Cindy contribute a solo here or there, but most likely the results would have been lackluster and would have done nothing to advance the positive impact of the group. A mediocre rendition would have seemed like what it was, album filler, and the general public would have lost interest in the group far more quickly. And there was no reason to have Mary or Florence attempt lead vocals on single releases; Diana's voice was a proven commodity at that time, and Motown, correctly, did not want to end the string of hits by featuring a so-so, unrecognizable voice.

    Once Diana left the Supremes, Mary and Cindy could have/should have been given opportunities, especially as Jean became a bit erratic, as on the Jimmy Webb album and in some earlier live performances. This would have made the group less reliant upon any one voice and might have forced Jean to be a bit more disciplined.
    very fair points. I agree that many of Flo's leads are not that amazing. nor do they support the POV that she was one of the most gifted/amazing singers and forced into the background.

    but we do also need to recognize a few things:

    1. diana's interpretive skills are truly incredible. even many of her early tracks when she was just a kid. so there's an uncanny talent there that most other people wouldn't have
    2. diana was given MUCH more opportunity to experiment and develop. Listen to her aggressive attacks on Let Me Go Right Way and You Bring Back Memories. not to slight her talent and skill, but you can probably assume too that producers instructed her to sing different ways, to strain or "go for it" with different passages. and who knows what happened that WASN'T recorded lol. voice cracking, missing notes, all the typical errors people make when testing things. but she learned from those experiences. Flo and Mary weren't really afforded these

    you mention Good News. That's a stunning piece from Flo and certainly shows what could have been with patience, training, hard work.

    my example of Mary's talent is the Merry Christmas Song duet. i love her delivery there. also stunning

    And let's also not slight M and F for another talent - harmonizing and background singing. Some people seem to thinking that background singing is "less" than lead. it's not and can often be much more challenging from a technical perspective. Lead is typically singing the melody. but the talents M, F, C and the others displayed by having gorgeous harmonies definitely shows their talents

  19. #19
    Flo and Mary definitely could've been given leads if Motown paid more attention to them. Motown had it clear who they wanted to lead the Supremes (Diana) but if they had been worked on more, Flo and Mary would've not only been even better than they were but they could've had great solo careers like Diana but they were never afforded that chance, as sup_fan said.

  20. #20
    He's My Man ..Scherrie all lead..
    Your what's missing in my life..scherrie lead.
    Bad weather..Lynda..
    Floy joy..add Cindy like the live version

  21. #21
    Florence would've definitely tore up "Itchin" and "Hangin On", the only two hit singles that I think Flo would've been better or just as good as Diana on. Mary definitely was capable of "Where Did Our Love Go", and she may have been a good fit for "My World Is Empty". But mostly the hit singles are hard to hear anyone other than Diana singing.

    Now the album tracks are different stories. I feel like there are a ton of those that Flo and Mary would've been as good or better than Diana on. Just a few:

    "Funny How Time Slips Away"...Florence
    "Yesterday"...Mary
    "Come And Get These Memories"...Florence
    "Ode To Billy Joe"...Mary
    "The Sound Of Music"...Florence
    "A Change Gonna Come"...Florence
    "Long Gone Lover"...Florence
    "You Send Me"...Mary
    "These Boots"...Florence

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Weslley Francisco View Post
    I always thought Mary would kill "Yesterday" during their live concerts. Her sultry airy voice would fit the song like a glove.
    Yes! I agree!

  23. #23
    Flo and Mary were no slouches as vocalists. The truth is probably at any other record company they would've been the preferred vocalists in the group, although it's a myth that Gordy was the first one to take notice of Diana's voice. That would (officially) be Paul Williams, followed by Milton Jenkins, followed by Richard Morris, so recognizing Diana's abilities was certainly not exclusively Gordy's. But it's hard to believe that Diana could've walked into Stax or Atlantic and gotten universal praise over Flo, or even Mary, both of whom I believe- based on the available audio- were better technical singers than Diana early on. But Supfan is right in pointing out Diana's lyrical interpretation skills, which IMO are evident as early as "Never Again", which is a brilliant vocal, if not technically polished.

    Flo's, or even Mary's, "amazing" vocal skills is purely subjective. It's easy for some, nearly 60 years later, to look back and say Diana was the right choice (an opinion I hold) after she's proven herself for half a century. But who knows what might have been had the group crossed paths with a label owner who was more interested in Flo or Mary. Gordy had all this great intuition about who should be a lead voice (group or solo) coming out of radios around the world, but he also slept on some fantastic voices (not named Flo or Mary) while at the helm of the company, which goes to show the subjectivity of any one person's opinion regarding any one voice.

    There are too many voices of fans and non fans who hear Flo and Mary sing and hold the opinion that I do: that they were more than capable of helping Diana carry the load of lead singing in the Supremes. No reason to believe the group would've suffered any losses with more leads from Flo and Mary both on albums and in concert.

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