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  1. #1

    What happened in 1971-72?

    When Diana Ross left the Supremes in 1970 and Jean Terrell took over, there was an opportunity for both the Supremes as a group and Diana Ross as a solo to maintain their status as 2 huge hitmakers. It started out that way, with Ross having a #20 hit and the Supremes having a #10 hit, followed by a #21 hit.Then Ross had a #1 pop hit with Ain't No Mountain High Enough and the Supremes with a #1 R&B(#7 pop) hit Stoned Love. Motown saturated the market too much with Ross having Diana Ross, Surrender and Everything is Everything hit the market closely and the Supremes having Right On, New Ways But Love Stays,Touch and with the 4 Tops The Magnificent 7 and The Return of the Magnificent 7. Surely, for fans of both this was an awful lot of saturation. Plus many of the songs on these LPs were cover versions of Motown and others hits.This was the time where albums were becoming important and filler with a hit or two no longer caused people to buy albums. Then there was the fact that although Jean Terrell was a much better singer than Ross, she did not possess the razzle dazzle that Ross had on television.By the time we saw DRATS, they were no longer the hit making Supremes but were now an established group that was a part of mainstream entertainment. When Terrell joined they needed to become hitmakers again since they were starting anew. Jean just did not draw people in with her television and live performances and even Wilson and Birdsong were quite more a visual focal point than Terrell. Then by the time of Touch, they were touring and Nathan Jones and Touch were not on television. Then when Birdsong left and they had Floy Joy out, the songs hit the top 20 and then top 40 but the momentum was slowing down quite a bit. Lynda Lawrence was added, she looked slightly like Birdsong but did not convey the warmth of Birdsong nor did she blend as well vocally or visually with Wilson. Jean, Mary and Lynda felt like a completely different group and concept and they did not catch on. JML had the lowest charting singles hitting #85 & #87. Plus at this time Motown had moved to California and was focused on Ross and making movies. While Ross was given a television special of her own in 1971, the Supremes were merely guest stars on others variety shows and specials, they had nothing of their own. Then when Terrell and Lawrence left in 1973, the Supremes had no releases at all until 1975. When the Supremes came back, they had been gone from the scene for nearly 2 years except for touring. They no longer had Terrell as lead singer. Now Mary Wilson, who had sang shared leads with Terrell was sharing leads with new lead singer Scherrie Payne and Cindy Birdsong was back. Visually and vocally, they had pizzazz and a great dynamic. Still, with now a second new lead replacement and so much time out of the public eye it was an uphill battle. By this time, Berry had washed his hands of the group and probably was hoping that the Supremes would stop so the focus could truly be just Diana. Plus, as the Supremes reemerged Diana was starring in her second movie at the same time after having received an Oscar Nomination for her first. The Supremes started to manage to gain some activity, this was purely due to the willpower of Mary Wilson. Then Cindy left a second time in 1976 and was replaced by Susaye Greene. Techinically, this trio was perhaps the most talented in terms of ability. Visually, they were not the most dynamic since both Scherrie and Susaye were so much shorter than Mary, who ironically was the shortest of the original trio. When they released High Energy and had their last top 40 hit, it came at the same time as Ross' Love hangover. It seemed there was a lot of bad timing and overlap with the solo Ross and the new Supremes releases. Clearly, too much saturation early on, too many covers on the early LPs, Birdsong leaving and many other factors caused the downfall in 1971-72. Clearly, the music the group put out was more progressive and atristically miles beyond what the original and DRATS groupings could ever hope to produce. But like I noted even DRATS were no longer the consistent chart toppers that the Supremes were-mainly because HDH left and the group was now focused to elevate Ross and they were now more than a group, they were established stars in the entertainment business who no longer needed hit after hit to be considered a top entertainment group. Yes, they still needed hits which is why Gordy focused to make Love Child, I'm Livin in Shame and Someday We'll Be Together top 10 hits to keep them relevant along with maintaining their established position. With Terrell, they had to prove themselves all over again. She had the voice but lacked what was expected live and on television. She didn't click with the audience as Ross had or as Wilson, Ballard and Birdsong did. Perhaps, that may have been a reason why Gordy changed his mind after seeing her on stage with the group. Yes,she had been his choice and from a voice standpoint an excellent one yet he knew long term it may not have been best for the group. Still, I was one who bought all of the Supremes and Ross' output during that time. I liked the Supremes a bit more, but still liked Ross. At that time, I wondered why the Supremes were not on top like I felt they should have been. There were so many factors, including some Motown politics that I didn't see as a young teen. Still, I love their music to this day. I just wish more people-the mass public-had enjoyed the missed opportunity of the Supremes. I truly still enjoy and love their music and I thank them for sharing their talents with us.

  2. #2
    i think you summed it up well. IMO the group was stuck in a rut. The Sups enjoyed a resurgence with Jean joining and their new sound and image. but

    1. they didn't continue to develop and evolve. were still smiling sequin glam girls and that was getting old

    2. too much product - the duets really did nothing as the material was either covers or bland originals. with the power of Levi and Jean, you could have done something great. but alas they mostly didn't

    3. motown's move to LA and into Hollywood. in the 60s the Sups benefited greatly by having Gordy's undivided attention . Motown was never able to really grow and support multiple superstar acts that were widely successful. in the 60s everyone was living in the shadow of the sups. in the 70s, everyone was in the shadow of Diana. Motown never really succeeded in multi-tasking

    4. Cindy's departure

  3. #3
    Add to this Honey Cone. After Nathan Jones and You Gotta Have Love In Your Heart Motown waited 5 months to release the ill-conceived Touch single. Motown didn't even bother to release a second single from Return of the Mag 7. Invictus however released three million-selling singles on Honey Cone in short order which helped divert attention away from the Supremes. I remember well Honey Cone being dubbed the new Supremes even though their style was a bit different. Motown was ill-prepared for the fact that the public took more to the new Supremes than to the single Diana Ross and Gordy wasn't going to have it.

  4. #4
    I think it’s simply that the group never evolved. After 71, the sequin frocks and show tunes should have been dumped. Pop success is often built as much on image as it is on good music. Their choreography was also a huge factor in making them appear dated.
    I have always felt that calling the group New Supremes would have heped in separating them from their old image.
    Cindy’s departure was of course another huge blow. The public were becoming less familiar with who was who.

  5. #5
    As Suzanne DePasse (sp) said so concisely, the Supremes were "all sequinned out." All that Vegas glitter just seemed phony in the 70's. I never once saw the Supremes on TV during those years but now looking at the old clips makes me wonder why there was obviously no new plan for the new Supremes. It is obvious to me that Motown wanted the older, dinner club crowd to keep coming to their shows and most probably didn't even know Diana Ross was no longer in the group. Changing their image would have called attention to the fact that this was not the group a lot of people thought they were paying to see. All that being said, the Supremes had a stellar run, far longer than most pop groups. Most pop groups never even get one hit single, let alone 12 #1's. As a kid of the 70's, I see those Vegas gowns and big hair and fake smiles, and I am completely turned off. When Scherrie came onboard, the group took on a more natural, sexy presentation and people started to notice them again. When I think of cool female singers of the 70's, I think of Chaka Khan, with her 'fro, her leather and feathers costumes, and natural stage presence. The Vegas/supper club schtick was on life support. Diana Ross was still playing those types of venues but she completely changed her look, her show, and how she presented herself. The Supremes didn't--at least not for four or five years. By then it was too late, which is a shame because Scherrie deserved to be a big star.

  6. #6
    i think this image problem was a core issue between Jean and Mary. with the massive growth of the R&B scene, the sups needed to adapt. They did nicely with their new sound on RO. New Ways should have been a stronger lp - with the changes we've discussed here many times. That would have helped firmly re-establish the group in their new sound and image. the duets should have been skipped or postponed.

    They should have held Touch and NJ a few months to get a second release from NW. that combined with the abscence of the duets would have helped focus attention onto NW and that material.

    At that time, the group should have then also updated their show to better accommodate different audiences. when the girls played The Frontier - sure, pull out the showtunes and all. But on tv appearances and other live shows, they should have moved more away from MOR songs.

    the look of the group did make some solid changes but these looks weren't always displayed on tv. adn some of the new outfits were nice but not hot and new. they really did get a lot of new outfits in 70 and 71 but they often still wore DRATS stuff. the green fringe pantsuits, the white ponchos, the purple bell bottoms (especially without the little jackets) looked hot. the white Central Park mini dresses were chic and super cool too. But some of the outfits were not pushing things - the yellow long sleeve dresses, the lavender sequins from Love The one You're with. they're not ugly but they could have opted for somethign more exciting and fashion forward

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by BayouMotownMan View Post
    Add to this Honey Cone. After Nathan Jones and You Gotta Have Love In Your Heart Motown waited 5 months to release the ill-conceived Touch single. Motown didn't even bother to release a second single from Return of the Mag 7. Invictus however released three million-selling singles on Honey Cone in short order which helped divert attention away from the Supremes. I remember well Honey Cone being dubbed the new Supremes even though their style was a bit different. Motown was ill-prepared for the fact that the public took more to the new Supremes than to the single Diana Ross and Gordy wasn't going to have it.
    except the public did not take more to the new group. It was quite the opposite. Ross outsold the supremes in 1970 both in singles and albums. In ‘71, neither act did Very well with singles, but ross clearly dominated JMC on albums like she did every year. Mary’s book spins the chart facts in a Trump-esque fashion to sell her concept, but the fully faced facts are not in the supremes favor. Not that it matters anyway, there was room for both and with the Motown bubble about to burst, both acts being strong was clearly to the best interest of all involved. Additionally, Diana had bigger and better gigs than JMC by 1971 and, a year later, had inked a deal at Caesar’s palace while JMC couldn’t get signed in vegas. There is no evidence to suggest in any way shape or form that the public prefers the new group over solo diana ross.

    I think part of the reason is that diana ross as a solo was new, while the Supremes were old… Revamped but old. Honeycone made them look old, there was no one to challenge diana ross as a solo.

    I also reject the notion that everything at Motown was about diana ross solo because that’s not true, the Jackson 5 were given more attention than anyone in my opinion and a haphazard release schedule for diana ross I think is proof of that.

    Jean Terrel was a fine singer, and I know there are some that feel she is better than diana ross and some of that feel diana ross is better, ultimately the public decides who is better And with the lack of creative production talent at Motown at the time, I think it’s hard to judge. The people in this forum, me included, tend to cling to the mediocrity that both acts were putting out Because we have nothing else, the public had already spoken and dismissed most of what passes for Beacons of hope in this group.

  8. #8
    They needed a bombastic hit single too. Stone Love was definitely on the right track and if not for the controversial title, I think it would have been a number one. To my ears all the other singles from 71, 72, were just mediocre. I mean come on, Everybody Has the right to Love was single material? Really? it was barely passable as album filler. Randy T called it a "dismal Dean Martin type sing along" and that's exactly what I hear, too. Even the songs the Supremes did in this period that became big hits for other people (like Never Can Say Goodbye) sounded rushed or even unfinished. Obviously the Supremes were not getting the care they needed. Diana Ross recorded Touch Me in the Morning in bits and pieces, re-singing every word until it was perfect. Marilyn McCoo did the same thing with Wedding Bell Blues. It's that kind of attention to detail that makes a memorable, big hit single.

  9. #9
    during 70 and into 71, the Sups were moving ahead faster especially with singles

    Ladder - #10 pop was on the charts 11 weeks
    ROAT - peaked at 20 and only on charts 9 weeks

    Everybody - peaked at 21 but was on charts 10 weeks
    Mountain - #1 and on charts for 13 weeks

    SL - peaked at 7 and on charts 14 weeks
    River - peaked at 14 and on charts 10 weeks

    REmember me - 16 and on charts 10 weeks

    NJ - peaked at 16 and on charts 10 weeks

    Reach out i'll be there - peaked at 29 and on charts 7 weeks

    YGHL - peaked at 55 and on charts only 5 weeks

    Surrender - peaked at 38 and on charts only 6 weeks

    So the Sups were definitely selling more 45s

    Albums though is another story

    RO - peaked at 25 and on charts 19 weeks

    DR peaked at 19 but on charts for 28 weeks

    NW - peaked at 68 and on charts for 17 weeks
    Mag 7 peaked at a poor 113 but did remain on charts a (relatively) long time. 16 weeks

    Everything is Everything peaked at 42 and on charts for 16 weeks
    Diana! peaked at 46 and on for 15 weeks
    Surrender peaked at 59 and on charts for 14 weeks

    Diana's solo debut album had a long burn on the charts, which means sales. but none of her subsequent material did super well, although her higher sales would have helped push the chart ranking higher. So she sold more but probably not massively more.

  10. #10
    I'm not sure of the date of Diana's contract with Caesar's but there is no doubt that her success with Lady is what catapulted her. her material and sales in 70 and 71 are nice but not mega-star status. Lady pushed her into a whole new world. without it, i think her level of fame and success would have been MUCH more limited. quite possibly she would have been considered just "the former lead singer of the Supremes" rather than DIANA ROSS

  11. #11
    Is it fair to assume had Diana not done LSTB, she may have suffered the same fate as the Supremes? Being "sequinned" out?

  12. #12
    well her TMITM set was a beautiful new package. yes it pulled some material from the Blue sessions but her work with Masser and Deke (the baby songs) were separate and new. obviously her style was wonderfully influenced by her jazz work.

    and not being in Lady (or if Lady hadn't done super well) wouldn't necessarily mean she would have floundered. What Diana did somewhat successfully was to reinvent herself - the jazz work, the sensitive mother and mature woman of TMITM, disco, diana 81

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    I'm not sure of the date of Diana's contract with Caesar's but there is no doubt that her success with Lady is what catapulted her. her material and sales in 70 and 71 are nice but not mega-star status. Lady pushed her into a whole new world. without it, i think her level of fame and success would have been MUCH more limited. quite possibly she would have been considered just "the former lead singer of the Supremes" rather than DIANA ROSS
    Rossí January Ď73 debut at Caesarís suggests a deal prior to Lady as they needed time to sell her. They usually booked 6-18 months in advance because if the number if in-demand acts they featured. Had she fared poorly at the frontier, itís doubtful they would have signed her until after the movie performed well. It opened wide in nov Ď72. They had wanted to sign her in Ď69, but she stayed at the frontier because, I suspect, that was the only way theyíd take JMC.

  14. #14
    People sometimes say the Jimmy Webb was the death knell fo the group but i think one of the key problems with the Sups during this period was New Ways. motown did try to push this - it got more Billboard ads and promotion than any other album of theirs. frankly rivaling what Diana got for her debut. of course there's MUCH more to album promotion than a couple of Billboard magazine ads. but the chart progress of the album was so odd. it rose and fell and rose and fell. just never could get the momentum

    so was it the goofy cover, the dumb title, the lack of promotion of the material on tv, the deluge of other Sups and DR albums?

    or was it all of the above and therefore a case of just overall mismanagement and poor strategy?

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMotownManiac View Post
    Ross’ January ‘73 debut at Caesar’s suggests a deal prior to Lady as they needed time to sell her. They usually booked 6-18 months in advance because if the number if in-demand acts they featured. Had she fared poorly at the frontier, it’s doubtful they would have signed her until after the movie performed well. It opened wide in nov ‘72. They had wanted to sign her in ‘69, but she stayed at the frontier because, I suspect, that was the only way they’d take JMC.
    interesting!! great info

    well you know Berry was in there personally talking with the talent reps at Caesar's. hell he probably flew them on a private jet to his mansion to screen the movie! lolol He would have been pushing them, saying what a mega hit the movie would be. and since her track record had always been hot, she was a pretty good bet. everything she did with the Sups was hot and much of her track record in 70 and 71 was solid. her show was a eye catching spectacle.

    so maybe he said "don't you want to have her locked in the minute Lady is a smash?"

  16. #16
    IMHO, Motown screwed up the Supremes AND Diana Ross as far as singles go.

    With Diana, they should've pushed I'm Still Waiting more in the U.S., same with Surrender, Remember Me being released before any of them was just bizarre (and that song deserved more love too).

    With the Supremes, after Stoned Love, they should've pushed Nathan Jones to more pop and rock stations, it could've worked since that song was probably their strongest crossover single since The Happening (and their most psychedelic production since Reflections).

    Problem with the label is they were pushing way too many Jackson 5 material than the Supremes or Diana Ross or any other group. Because of that, the Supremes fell by the wayside. Nathan Jones should've been a number one hit for them.

    I agree that Motown shouldn't have released Everybody's Got the Right to Love. What was their problem???

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    during 70 and into 71, the Sups were moving ahead faster especially with singles

    Ladder - #10 pop was on the charts 11 weeks
    ROAT - peaked at 20 and only on charts 9 weeks

    Everybody - peaked at 21 but was on charts 10 weeks
    Mountain - #1 and on charts for 13 weeks

    SL - peaked at 7 and on charts 14 weeks
    River - peaked at 14 and on charts 10 weeks

    REmember me - 16 and on charts 10 weeks

    NJ - peaked at 16 and on charts 10 weeks

    Reach out i'll be there - peaked at 29 and on charts 7 weeks

    YGHL - peaked at 55 and on charts only 5 weeks

    Surrender - peaked at 38 and on charts only 6 weeks

    So the Sups were definitely selling more 45s

    Albums though is another story

    RO - peaked at 25 and on charts 19 weeks

    DR peaked at 19 but on charts for 28 weeks

    NW - peaked at 68 and on charts for 17 weeks
    Mag 7 peaked at a poor 113 but did remain on charts a (relatively) long time. 16 weeks

    Everything is Everything peaked at 42 and on charts for 16 weeks
    Diana! peaked at 46 and on for 15 weeks
    Surrender peaked at 59 and on charts for 14 weeks

    Diana's solo debut album had a long burn on the charts, which means sales. but none of her subsequent material did super well, although her higher sales would have helped push the chart ranking higher. So she sold more but probably not massively more.
    all of Ross’ albums did much better than JMC - even two that peaked with no single releases at all. That is strong. Diana Ross albums uniformly outperformed Jay MC albums on the soul chart. Albums are a much better barometer of a recording acts success than single sales. Lots of hits singles get purchased by people who have never heard of the group never consider buying an album by the group I’ve never buy anything else from the group. An album is much more of a financial commitment Albums are a much better barometer of a recording acts success than single sales. Lots of hits singles get purchased by people who have never heard of the group never consider buying an album by the group I’ve never buy anything else from the group. An album is much more of a financial commitment And indicates a stronger bond between the act and the consumer. That’s just a fact and there’s no other way to spin that. And you’re right that ross is albums weren’t setting the world on fire, but they were still selling significantly more than JMC Who, in several cases, had bigger hit records to push them.

    if you look at the year end results - pop and soul - from 1970, you will find diana ross a bigger singles act and a bigger album act than the new Supremes. And that’s in Billboard, it’s not my opinion or spin.

    i’ve always thought it was cheesy and bitchy, not to mention shady, of Mary to present a litany of one-sided facts to sell a false narrative about that selling power of both acts. She focused only on singles, conveniently, and referred to Ross’ two number ones during the JMC era as “top tens“ She didn’t mention was didn’t plug her records on tv, nor that her planned solo single was yanked for DRTS and left them starting from scratch or that....well, there are lots if ways to tell a story. I believe Ross two #1s And 2 top 20’s sold as much or close to JMC total single output.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMotownManiac View Post
    except the public did not take more to the new group. It was quite the opposite. Ross outsold the supremes in 1970 both in singles and albums. In ‘71, neither act did Very well with singles, but ross clearly dominated JMC on albums like she did every year. Mary’s book spins the chart facts in a Trump-esque fashion to sell her concept, but the fully faced facts are not in the supremes favor. Not that it matters anyway, there was room for both and with the Motown bubble about to burst, both acts being strong was clearly to the best interest of all involved. Additionally, Diana had bigger and better gigs than JMC by 1971 and, a year later, had inked a deal at Caesar’s palace while JMC couldn’t get signed in vegas. There is no evidence to suggest in any way shape or form that the public prefers the new group over solo diana ross.

    I think part of the reason is that diana ross as a solo was new, while the Supremes were old… Revamped but old. Honeycone made them look old, there was no one to challenge diana ross as a solo.

    I also reject the notion that everything at Motown was about diana ross solo because that’s not true, the Jackson 5 were given more attention than anyone in my opinion and a haphazard release schedule for diana ross I think is proof of that.

    Jean Terrel was a fine singer, and I know there are some that feel she is better than diana ross and some of that feel diana ross is better, ultimately the public decides who is better And with the lack of creative production talent at Motown at the time, I think it’s hard to judge. The people in this forum, me included, tend to cling to the mediocrity that both acts were putting out Because we have nothing else, the public had already spoken and dismissed most of what passes for Beacons of hope in this group.
    Good points, MotownManiac!

    In 1970, I didn't perceive an appreciable public preference. As a young fan, I had high hopes for both The Supremes and Diana Ross and I believed in Motown's power and influence. Motown had quite a banner year in 1970, as attested to by The Jackson 5's four #1 hits in a row. However, Motown failed to successfully follow-up on Ain't No Mountain High Enough and Stoned Love.

    The Supremes were indeed a new group and should have evolved with their music and image. Honey Cone did make them look old. The Frank Wilson albums were steps in the right direction, especially the Touch album and most of New Ways. The stunning Afro image on New Ways and Touch's gorgeous cover were also right moves.

    Diana Ross was a superstar in the Supremes but just an emerging solo superstar in 1970. Barbra Streisand and Dionne Warwicke were established pop superstars and Aretha was by herself as Queen of Soul. I think Diana's biggest challenges in 1970 were Dionne Warwick and, possibly, someone like Freda Payne.

    Everyone has their own opinion of the "best" or the "better" singer. For me, it is all "neither here nor there". Diana Ross is my favorite singer but I certainly appreciate Jean Terrell. Diana, Jean, Aretha, Barbra, Dionne and Gladys are my favorite singers, along with Thelma Houston, Martha Reeves, Dusty Springfield, Karen Carpenter, Anne Murray, Patsy Cline and many others.

    Anyway, this all IMO.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMotownManiac View Post
    all of Ross’ albums did much better than JMC - even two that peaked with no single releases at all. That is strong. Diana Ross albums uniformly outperformed Jay MC albums on the soul chart. Albums are a much better barometer of a recording acts success than single sales. Lots of hits singles get purchased by people who have never heard of the group never consider buying an album by the group I’ve never buy anything else from the group. An album is much more of a financial commitment Albums are a much better barometer of a recording acts success than single sales. Lots of hits singles get purchased by people who have never heard of the group never consider buying an album by the group I’ve never buy anything else from the group. An album is much more of a financial commitment And indicates a stronger bond between the act and the consumer. That’s just a fact and there’s no other way to spin that. And you’re right that ross is albums weren’t setting the world on fire, but they were still selling significantly more than JMC Who, in several cases, had bigger hit records to push them.

    if you look at the year end results - pop and soul - from 1970, you will find diana ross a bigger singles act and a bigger album act than the new Supremes. And that’s in Billboard, it’s not my opinion or spin.

    i’ve always thought it was cheesy and bitchy, not to mention shady, of Mary to present a litany of one-sided facts to sell a false narrative about that selling power of both acts. She focused only on singles, conveniently, and referred to Ross’ two number ones during the JMC era as “top tens“ She didn’t mention was didn’t plug her records on tv, nor that her planned solo single was yanked for DRTS and left them starting from scratch or that....well, there are lots if ways to tell a story. I believe Ross two #1s And 2 top 20’s sold as much or close to JMC total single output.
    yes and no - albums in the 60s were mostly just an excuse to collect a handful of recent singles and then pad it out with filler. sometimes there was a concept or an overarching thought (I Hear A Symphony for instance) but the majority of the 60s albums were not necessarily much more than a collection of song.

    of course the sales of albums generated a lot more revenue for the company and other groups and labels started to focus more on the concept of an album and using it for an artistic statement. or at least 1 musical point of view by 1 producer.

    through 66, the sups were always at or near the top of the R&B and Pop charts with their albums. starting with Reflections though, there's a major drop off. i would hardly call Diana's solo albums a major triumph given the modest chart rankings and the ho hum during on the charts. And no, the 70s supremes were definitely no better. If you look at something like More Hits in 65, Syphony or A Go Go, these charted for months and months. More hits was on the charts for 37 weeks. as was Symphony. A Go Go a full 52 weeks

    the DR and the Sup 70s output was FAR below what they both enjoyed in the earlier years.

    Lady soundtrack and, interestingly enough) the Diana and Marvin album finally got her back to what the Sups had been doing. Lady was on the charts for just over a year and D&M for 47 weeks.

  20. #20
    Well done summation Jim of the circumstances at that time , and I think the added effect of The Honey Cone in the scenario was an important factor to be added. Particularly since it was HDH that was presenting them, it only added to any notion that The Supremes were old school. *

    As far as Diana vs. The Supremes in situations like Vegas signings , The Supremes were obviously disadvantaged. Diana Ross could perform any and all of The Supremes catalogue on which she had sung lead to the total satisfaction of the audience. While The Supremes themselves could rightly perform those same songs as could Diana, not having the voice of original lead vocalist singing them was a serious flaw.

    Both of the acts depended on this catalogue in those years to fill the volume of their performances and to be the draw power .

    * added : I bet even the new label , HOT WAX , when first in the hands of the radio programmers, as opposed to one from the sixties like Motown , added to their perception of Honey Cone as something fresh.
    Last edited by Boogiedown; 09-23-2020 at 03:18 PM.

  21. #21
    great points on the J5. it's sort of like when the Sups hit it big. Mary references this in Dreamgirl. prior to the Sups different act were hot at different times so focus and "love" was spread around. the sups were hit big all at once and never let up. so all of the other missed out on the attention.

    then when j5 exploded, the Sups shifted into the group of "All others" after being the primary focus

    and we think of motown as huge but even in 1970, they weren't a massive label, when compared to others. they were still a hometown shop

  22. #22
    I agree Boogie. I've heard lots of people, including Jean herself, say that she (Jean) sounded a lot like DR early on but I do NOT hear that at all. Not in the slightest. Dionne Warwick yes, but Diana Ross? Not to my ears.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by BobbyC View Post
    I agree Boogie. I've heard lots of people, including Jean herself, say that she (Jean) sounded a lot like DR early on but I do NOT hear that at all. Not in the slightest. Dionne Warwick yes, but Diana Ross? Not to my ears.

    I hear Dionne at times too, and I love both Diana's and Jean's voices but not because of a similarity.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    Well done summation Jim of the circumstances at that time , and I think the added effect of The Honey Cone in the scenario was an important factor to be added. Particularly since it was HDH that was presenting them, it only added to any notion that The Supremes were old school. *

    As far as Diana vs. The Supremes in situations like Vegas signings , The Supremes were obviously disadvantaged. Diana Ross could perform any and all of The Supremes catalogue on which she had sung lead to the total satisfaction of the audience. While The Supremes themselves could rightly perform those same songs as could Diana, not having the voice of original lead vocalist singing them was a serious flaw.

    Both of the acts depended on this catalogue in those years to fill the volume of their performances and to be the draw power .

    * added : I bet even the new label , HOT WAX , when first in the hands of the radio programmers, as opposed to one from the sixties like Motown , added to their perception of Honey Cone as something fresh.
    although it changed, Diana did very little Supremes material in her original solo debut. Someday and a happening weíre in an out, and the standard medley was in. Iíve also heard that she did you keep me hanging on sometimes, but most of her material, or standards, hits of the day, and material written especially for her solo act like leading lady, is that all there is and songs from the first album.

    I didnít particularly care for the Honeycone myself, their records reminded me of the Osmond Brothers which was kind of like imitation Jackson 5 stuff that I would listen to on the radio but would never buy. However, it was a new fresh sound and it lacked the gloss and polish that I had come to a door from Motown. And Honeycone wasnít exactly better looking than the Supremes, it was the music it was fresher and thatís what teenagers wanted to buy. I donít believe that HDH had anything to do with it as far as them getting AirPlay and I donít believe itís because there is a new label because program directors were faced with labels theyíve never heard of every single day. The general public just preferred the sound of a honeycomb just simple as that. And in two or three years the general public wouldnít even remember who the Honeycone was. Thatís what Pop music is all about.

    I donít believe any other factors are at play for the Supremes or diana ross, many of their records just werenít that good period. I donít know anyone who could understand all the lyrics to Nathan Jones, Touch was just a hot mess, Floyd joy was catchy but basically stupid, reach out Iíll be there was like a funeral dirge for the first half of it, and all of those Ashford & Simpson songs modulated up to the point where Diana was stretching to hit the notes at the end.Thereís no conspiracy and thereís no reason to look past the music why these songs werenít hitting bigger they just werenít that good. The few that were broke through and were wonderful. Millions of people saw Jean Terrell and The Supremes on the ad Sullivan knock it out of the Thereís no conspiracy and thereís no reason to look past the music why these songs werenít hitting bigger they just werenít that good. The few that were broke through and were wonderful. Millions of people saw Jean Terrell and The Supremes on the ad Sullivan knock it out of the park they were fantastic beyond expectation, but they didnít make my heart race, they didnít have the it factor, and it would be several months before I realized that it factor was diana ross. And I have a feeling Iím not the only one that thought they were great but weíre not compelled to follow them.

  25. #25
    Also neither of them had Flo

  26. #26
    "Floy Joy was catchy but ultimately stupid!!" LOL!! That's the quote of the week! Couldn't agree more! I only ever heard it once on the radio and the DJ made fun of it!

  27. #27
    good responses Maniac. thank you.

    While there are no conspiracies being suggested (unless someone wants to suggest there was payola involved by HDH in making Honey Cone instantly more popular than other existing girl groups), but regarding Honey Cone, I think it reasonable to think that at least a solid amount of radio program directors who, as music enthusiasts and by being so directly tied , were aware of industry escapades, and were perhaps sympathetic to the trials of HDH and therefore more than a little interested in giving their new acts and new labels at least a fare shake.

    I'd be wiling to bet the draw of Diana Ross in '71-'72 as a concert event was to hear her perform Supremes stuff. She probably preferred that not to be the case and rightly tried to minimize it, but .....

  28. #28
    PS:About the Honeycomb. I barely even heard of them, let alone considered them a benchmark female group. The girl group I very much recall was The Three Degrees, and later Labelle and the Emotions. Then the Pointless Sisters after them.

  29. #29
    But don't forget Bobby we are talking about '71-'72, no big Three Degrees hits yet , and as for any breaking out girl groups, it was Honey Cone . Sad they didn't last long.

    >>Pointless Sisters<<, funny!!!

  30. #30
    Perhaps if The Supremes had their own TV Special in summer of 1971, it may have helped maintain profile of the group.

    An hour long show. Maybe with Four Tops as guests. What would your set list be?

    How about:
    Together We Can Make Such Sweet Music - Supremes/Four Tops
    You've Gotta Have Love In Your Hearts - Supremes/Four Tops
    Stoned Love - The Supremes
    Love the One You're With - The Supremes
    60s Hit Medley - The Supremes
    Reach Out, I'll be There - Four Tops
    Bernadette - Four Tops
    Up The Ladder To The Roof - The Supremes
    Everybody's Got The Right To Love - The Supremes
    Nathan Jones - The Supremes
    River Deep, Mountain High - The Supremes/Four Tops
    Reach Out and Touch Somebody's Hand - The Supremes/Four Tops

    I know it's very simplistic - but for me, it works..

  31. #31
    Hi Boogie--yeah I think I "came to" about pop culture around 1974 so Honey Cone were just before I woke up. I sort of remember Want Ads but not enough to sing it or anything, thank god. While I am gloriously talented in many areas, singing is not one of them. Oh yeah and I actually loved the Pointer sisters during their rock period (Priority and Energy). So I apologize for calling them Pointless. Just a dopey joke. I've been a bad, bad boy.

  32. #32
    neat idea! if their tv special followed a similar format to Smokey's, i'd be all for it. but if it was patterned after Broadway or Diana! with the stupid skits, i'd say no way. and let's face it, it would most likely have been the latter

    I do think you would have to have a few more guest stars though.

    What about bringing in Ernie Terrell and the Heavyweights - give Jean a bit of time to talk about where she came from and even do a bit of the "how they found her" story. Would also help make her a more identifiable personality for the public and fans.

    heck - maybe little song segments for M and C too. an "origins" story which could then build up to Up The Ladder.

    do love the Tops as guest stars. maybe they do a medley of songs of each other's Frank Wilson work. the girls sing Still Water and Just 7 numbers, it's all in the game. then the tops sing Everybody and loving Country.

    another guest star could be stevie wonder or maybe Gladys Knight and the Pips

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by BobbyC View Post
    Hi Boogie--yeah I think I "came to" about pop culture around 1974 so Honey Cone were just before I woke up. I sort of remember Want Ads but not enough to sing it or anything, thank god. While I am gloriously talented in many areas, singing is not one of them. Oh yeah and I actually loved the Pointer sisters during their rock period (Priority and Energy). So I apologize for calling them Pointless. Just a dopey joke. I've been a bad, bad boy.
    Honey Cone did have a fresh sound and a no-nonsense attitude of love. they weren't afraid of calling out their man for being a dog.

    Nathan Jones sort of does that too. a few of the problems i see with NJ are:

    1. clarity of lyrics - i do agree they get a little muddy at times but not totally unintelligible. just maybe a little clean up here and there
    2. lack of an emotional peak - the song doesn't build as much as it could or should. it basically starts out at one level and maintains that. yes there's the little bridge with all of the synth effects and all. but after that bridge, the song just picks right back up where it left off. between verses 1 and 2, there's little difference in terms of instrumentation and backing track. So basically the song doesn't really go anywhere. Look at how Ladder builds with each verse, then drops and the bridge and explodes at the end. SL does the same thing. After the bridge, Jean should have been let go to really go wild and they should have expanded the instruments in the backing track and really gone wild with the synth effects at the end.
    3. timing - once again, idiot motown bumbled things by release another duet. NJ was released on 4/15/71 and entered the Hot 100 on 5/8/71. It made some big jumps in the charts 88-57-40-27 but then slowed down. You Gotta Have Love was released on 5/11 and entered the charts on 6/5, right when NJ started to slow down. clearly they cannibalized each other

  34. #34
    I do think you would have to have a few more guest stars though.

    What about bringing in Ernie Terrell and the Heavyweights - give Jean a bit of time to talk about where she came from and even do a bit of the "how they found her" story. Would also help make her a more identifiable personality for the public and fans.

    heck - maybe little song segments for M and C too. an "origins" story which could then build up to Up The Ladder.

    do love the Tops as guest stars. maybe they do a medley of songs of each other's Frank Wilson work. the girls sing Still Water and Just 7 numbers, it's all in the game. then the tops sing Everybody and loving Country.

    another guest star could be stevie wonder or maybe Gladys Knight and the Pips[/QUOTE]

    Great idea

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    I hear Dionne at times too, and I love both Diana's and Jean's voices but not because of a similarity.
    If you have the 45 of Up The Ladder to the Roof - I think that is where Motown did it's best to make Jean sound like Diana; that was the only place that I noticed it. And after that success, it wasn't so evident. Perhaps it was done for "radio" to make the transition seamless.

  36. #36
    I believe Motown's biggest year on the charts was 1970. 1971 1972 marked the beginning of the era of the singer songwriter - and the rise of Stevie Marvin Jim Croce John Denver Olivia Newton John Diana Barbra - the groups didn't do as well. When you add in the disarray in the Supremes camp, it didn't bode well and it showed. Mary has said the albums didn't sell and the money that was being made declined. Switching sounds and leads didn't help. It's hard to imagine why you issue Touch; it's a great song but it it not radio friendly or catchy and would not have been identified with the Supremes or Motown.

  37. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by BobbyC View Post
    Hi Boogie--yeah I think I "came to" about pop culture around 1974 so Honey Cone were just before I woke up. I sort of remember Want Ads but not enough to sing it or anything, thank god. While I am gloriously talented in many areas, singing is not one of them. Oh yeah and I actually loved the Pointer sisters during their rock period (Priority and Energy). So I apologize for calling them Pointless. Just a dopey joke. I've been a bad, bad boy.
    I sensed that. Not meant to harm , just too clever to pass up.... that's what makes it funny.

    I'm just a bit ahead of you for my music 'woke' date.....'71-'72.

  38. #38
    I never understood the gunshot sound in NJ. It got annoying, did the woman kill Nathan?

  39. #39
    Let's hope so. He was an A hole

  40. #40
    Boogie--do you agree that 70's music, by and large, doesn't get the respect that it deserves? Seems like they get overlooked despite some amazing music. chaka Khan for instance, or Natalie Cole, don't get half the accolades that Aretha or Janis Joplin get.

  41. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by BayouMotownMan View Post
    I never understood the gunshot sound in NJ. It got annoying, did the woman kill Nathan?
    haha i never thought of it as a gunshot sound. i always heard it as a synthesizer influenced handclap. just like the phased the vocals, i assumed they did some sort of treatment to the handclaps to add to the effects of the song.

    I wonder if part of the problem with NJ is that is was such a studio creation. while i get it that the audio quality is poor due to age and bootlegging, the Tonight Show version just sounds corny. the backing band misses all of the oomph of the studio musicians. and of course the synthesizer is near impossible to duplicate live. So in concerts or on tv (unless lip syncing) the song would be radically different and inferior. and frankly wouldn't really inspire you to go to the record store the next day and buy
    Last edited by sup_fan; 09-24-2020 at 04:24 PM.

  42. #42
    I don't remember any gunshot sound in NJ either.

  43. #43
    i believe it's the loud cracking/clapping sound that starts on the second verse. it's on the off beat. first one is at 1:05

  44. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    i believe it's the loud cracking/clapping sound that starts on the second verse. it's on the off beat. first one is at 1:05
    Yes and it's even louder during the fade

  45. #45
    "Diana did very little Supremes material in her original solo debut. Someday and a happening we’re in an out, and the standard medley was in. I’ve also heard that she did you keep me hanging on sometimes, but most of her material, or standards, hits of the day, and material written especially for her solo act like leading lady, is that all there is and songs from the first album..."
    ______________________________

    The Motown Maniac, in her first tour as a solo artist, in the summer of 1970, Diana performed a more-or-less full-length version of Reflections as her third song, following Don't Rain On My Parade and The Nitty Gritty, and she also did a Supremes' hits medley, possibly the same one she did on At Caesar's Palace or the one the group did on Farewell. Too, she sang Rhythm Of Life with two male singer/dancers (while wearing the same outfit she wore on GIT On Broadway) and she also included a slightly revamped version of the Leading Lady Medley from that TV special. I don't recall if Someday We'll Be Together was part of the concert; The Happening wasn't. There were three songs from her solo album -- Something's On My Mind, Reach Out & Touch and Ain't No Mountain High Enough, plus Is That All There Is? and I Love You (Call Me). All in all, it was a delightful, fast-moving production that evidenced thought and care and seemed up-to-the-minute, especially as Ain't No Mountain High Enough had just reached #1 when I saw the show. It was a welcome change from the Diana Ross & The Supremes' early 1968 and 1969 concerts, which were essentially the Talk Of The Town set, plus or minus the Sam Cooke Medley, Queen Of The House, possibly Make Someone Happy, The Happening, In & Out Of Love and Love Child. I can't recall if The Boy From Ipanema and I'm Living In Shame (not a favorite) were part of one or both concerts; I do recall feeling a bit dismayed that Queen Of The House, from 1965, was still a set piece. Cindy, in 1968, already looked bored at times with that one, although she was in fine form in 1969; Mary seemed engaged both times. It seemed the group rushed through almost the entire set, except for Reflections, and, having done the basic program so often, there was not a lot of thought or true spontaneity, and there were no surprises, but Diana was compelling and the show was rewarding and fun.

  46. #46
    for Copa, i get that they were really trying the pander to the supper club crowd. and as they developed the act for it, the story goes that Gil said they'd re-arrange the hits to sound big band and that no one really cares about them. sure - they were breaking into new territory and they were trying to please

    by the DRATS era, the group was so firmly established in the entertainment industry that i'm surprised they didn't do more of their own material. while some songs changed, they really kept the same formula. that's from 1965 through 69. basically they did 4 or so of their hits, a few medleys, some MOR stuff, some broadway. by 68 or 69, they knew they were historic by having 10, 11 and then 12 #1s plus so many other big hits. they weren't just some "girl-fronted rock group" so i think they could and should have done more of their material. everyone love the Supremes and so everyone would have loved to hear more of their material

  47. #47
    Had NJ or FJ gotten more airplay and gone top 10 pop, things would have been very different....too much roadwork for Terrell's home hearted nature, harder work for dwindling royalty compensation, too many duet LPS adding to both groups list of dwindling sales...
    I maintain that I Guess I'll Miss The Man stood a better chance of becoming a AOR classic than Bad Weather did pop hit.

  48. #48
    i think if they'd given Stoned Love and NW some time to shine on it's own (no duets in fall of 70) that would have allowed both to chart higher and longer. also had the title NOT been mispelled with Stoned as opposed to the more appropriate Stone, some of the controversy around the song might have been avoided.

    that would have set the girls up to enter 71 in a stronger position. then in the late spring the could release 1 duet album and River. that's it. no more. you could pretty easily compile an album of 12 fairly strong songs and ditch much of the rest. there's just way too much mediocre or bland duet content. River is spectacular and deserved to be released but without competition from the Sup material

    then in late summer you release NJ and the Touch lp. again, without the competition from the duets they should have sold much better. Also since it's the start of the fall tv season, you have shows taping and preparing content so NJ could enjoy more exposure, provided the lip sync the song!

    as a 2nd single from Touch, i think Sunshine would have worked and skip the title track.

    you then enter 72 with the FJ set and a much more respectable recording reputation. at this point i think the sequins need to be phased out. i love the new look of chic casual on the FJ album. so a new look, a new sound but NOT a new lineup. Cindy should have stayed.

  49. #49
    "Stone Love" should have been entitled "One Love". A big hit that should have been the #1 song of the year! Even today, it rocks soul.

    Also, "These Things" by Diana Ross was never released as a single and could have been released as "Loving You , Dear".

    I often read on forums that it sounds too much like "SWWBT"- I didn't go to the Juilliard School of Music for my looks, I went there to learn classical
    hooks!

    I wish Ashford and Simpson had produced more albums for Diana Ross. Ashford and Simpson brought the neighborhood to the studio and Diana Ross brought them the drama of a woman on the verge of something grand beyond the studio.

  50. #50
    it would be interesting to hear what A&S would have done with Diana in the mid 70s. by that time Diana was a mother and had successfully explored the Lady catalog. the Touch me In the morning package is a wonderful album with thoughtful and beautiful vocals throughout. a new matured sound.

    so in 74 or so, how would A&S have helped re-interpret this new Diana?

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