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  1. #1
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    another potential reason for 70s Sup lack of success

    we've debated this topic a LOT i know. but something struck me the other day while watching some of the DRATS material and while talking with some friends. during the 60s, the Sups had lots of big headline-making activities

    1965
    5 #1 in a row
    Copa appearance
    Lincoln Center appearance

    1966
    Vegas debut
    huge tour of the Orient
    first female lp to go #1

    1967
    broadcast of R&H today
    Tarzan appearance
    Coconut Grove debut

    1968
    TCB
    massive duets - and this was really before mega stars did lots of duets like they do today
    mega Europe tour with TOTT
    Hubert Humphrey endorsement

    1969
    host for the Hollywood palace
    Diana solo gigs on tv

    And then when Diana went solo, you also had big news stories. 70 was just her debut, 71 you had the tv special and the announcement of the movie

    So MCJ just don't really seem to have this level of excitement surrounding them. they had great shows, high quality albums. But was the group newsworthy?

    i wonder if without such major PR, if the public just lost track of the girls. sure MJC still appeared on tv a lot. sure there were ads in billboard and all. But maybe this cooling of PR hype played into things

    just a thought, which i thought could be interesting to discuss and debate on here

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    we've debated this topic a LOT i know. but something struck me the other day while watching some of the DRATS material and while talking with some friends. during the 60s, the Sups had lots of big headline-making activities

    1965
    5 #1 in a row
    Copa appearance
    Lincoln Center appearance

    1966
    Vegas debut
    huge tour of the Orient
    first female lp to go #1

    1967
    broadcast of R&H today
    Tarzan appearance
    Coconut Grove debut

    1968
    TCB
    massive duets - and this was really before mega stars did lots of duets like they do today
    mega Europe tour with TOTT
    Hubert Humphrey endorsement

    1969
    host for the Hollywood palace
    Diana solo gigs on tv

    And then when Diana went solo, you also had big news stories. 70 was just her debut, 71 you had the tv special and the announcement of the movie

    So MCJ just don't really seem to have this level of excitement surrounding them. they had great shows, high quality albums. But was the group newsworthy?

    i wonder if without such major PR, if the public just lost track of the girls. sure MJC still appeared on tv a lot. sure there were ads in billboard and all. But maybe this cooling of PR hype played into things

    just a thought, which i thought could be interesting to discuss and debate on here
    I think the number one thing most important is radio play, number two is Word of mouth on the album or on the shows of the artist. I donít personally think that PR moves make the public want to go out and buy a record or a concert ticket. It might garner some interest in the group, But I canít see people partying with their hard earned money because of a news item. Look at diana ross in Central Park: she was on fire as a concert artist, records were doing well, and Central Park had more PR and publicity and use a vent than anything in a long long time musically, yet her album was a severe disappointment. It wasnít what the public wanted and word of mouth on it was: ďstay away!!!!!Ē
    even with a mega tv audience around the world, her subsequent arena tour sold out on every continent, yet they wouldnít buy the album.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheMotownManiac View Post
    I think the number one thing most important is radio play, number two is Word of mouth on the album or on the shows of the artist. I don’t personally think that PR moves make the public want to go out and buy a record or a concert ticket. It might garner some interest in the group, But I can’t see people partying with their hard earned money because of a news item. Look at diana ross in Central Park: she was on fire as a concert artist, records were doing well, and Central Park had more PR and publicity and use a vent than anything in a long long time musically, yet her album was a severe disappointment. It wasn’t what the public wanted and word of mouth on it was: “stay away!!!!!”
    even with a mega tv audience around the world, her subsequent arena tour sold out on every continent, yet they wouldn’t buy the album.
    no i hear you that the quality of the music has to be there. but IMO the early Jean albums were great quality. certainly better than much of the DRATS albums. And you had a lot of strong charting singles - Ladder, River, Stoned.

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    Hate to do it , but blame it on disco.

    There's no way to change the environment they were now in : the late seventies.

    The baton had been handed onward , plenty of competition , and disco was more a producers music than artists'. singing ladies were a dime a dozen.
    The Richie Family, Chic were providing the same female group type sounds , and changed membership often and no one noticed.

    And when you put out disco product and it goes to #5 on the disco charts : mission accomplished.
    But , that wasn't good enough for THE Supremes. They were too big for that. They had a history. This was a step down for them .

    Yet, they had nowhere to go musically :
    How could the new Supremes possibly put out a soft ballad .....featuring the voice of : who?? She's a Supreme?...??

    What other girl groups were succeeding ? The Emotions ? And only because of their disco stuff. Labelle fizzled. Pointers struggling.


    The Supremes could've gone on as a legendary performance act , but only if they really were the Supremes.

    which brings us to the second thing to blame:

    Diana Ross .

    By design she became the voice of the Supremes. When she left she took that entire era with her. Hard to replicate those vocals on those hits without her.

    But Diana now on into the 70s , was still out there ....if you wanted to hear old legendary Supremes stuff, her shows were the authentic way to do so.

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    yeah i think in the later 70s, there were things that could have worked. frankly the Sups could have/should have done things like the Pointer Sisters. The Pointers made guest appearances on tv shows, sang that number song on Sesame Street. The Sups could have done that too - special holiday/event appearance at Studio 54, guest appearance Love Boat, other tv appearances, etc.

    But by the Scherrie years, it was frankly too late IMO. the public image of the group was pretty much non-existent by then. I was thinking in 70, 71 and maybe 72.

  6. #6
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    oh I see .

    Well then in the same vein :
    Blame it on Jean .
    To successfully rebrand yourself , then have the lead voice , pull out .....and then to be forced to rebuild from scratch all over again .....wow.
    Some People showing up to a concert , would be asking where's Diana , then next where's Jean .....where's Cindy .....Mary just ain't gonna be enough.


    I'm glad for Mary that the Supreme thing ended when it did . Mary wasn't ready to sit it out. Had she taken a break , like Florence , she might not have rebounded She needed to be able to come forward . The Supreme legacy was rightfully hers to harvest and hers alone. Not Diana's, she dumped it.



    added:

    I've strayed from your initial proposal. Perhaps the low key approach at this period was by design ..to avoid calling attention to the very thing i'm talking about ....where's Diana??
    Last edited by Boogiedown; 08-02-2021 at 07:19 PM.

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    Once Jean left, it was over for the group. I think of the Supremes as like a train in this scenario, a steam locomotive. Once Diana jumped off, there was still enough steam to continue on thanks to what Diana, Flo, Mary, and Cindy had previously done. Add Jean and her voice, and a pair of great songs [[Ladder and Stone Love) and youíre able to steam ahead for a while. Remove Jean and thatís where the trouble begins. By this time, in a group of 3 members, where everyone has been replaced except for one person, it is no longer the group that people love. It is a group only in name.

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    Sup, I'd argue that all of those things you list for the 60s Supremes were the result of their massive hits. The DRATS period, which wasn't nearly as prolific hit wise as the Flo period, benefitted from the presence of Diana Ross. DRATS was the test run for Diana solo star, so Gordy pulled out all the stops. He made sure she [[and by association, Mary and Cindy) were on television all the time, hit or no hit. The TV specials were centered around Diana also. The truth is that the character of the group was certainly different with Diana and without. Booking them anywhere was never going to be a problem.

    That first year of Jean, it appears the Supremes were as busy as they always were. They did TV and concerts. They had two big pop hits, a #1 r&b tune. I'm of the opinion that the post "Stoned Love" singles just didn't have enough elements to make them instant classics. As much as I may love them, there's always something missing to my ears, and I suspect the public felt the same way. They got good responses to stuff like "Nathan" and "Floy", but they needed a "Want Ads" or an "I'll Be There" to keep the group red hot. Add to that the fact that Gordy was no longer their biggest fan. We can argue all day long whether or not Motown the label dropped the ball with their support, but there should be no question that Gordy turned his main attention to Diana Ross, and to a lesser extent the J5, and didn't bother with the Supremes again. Without him eating and sleeping and living the Supremes, they probably didn't stand a real chance of sustaining what had been achieved in the 60s. No one at Motown had more power than Gordy. Had he kept the same attention to them as he did when Diana was in the group, I believe wholeheartedly that the 70s Supremes story would be different. Without that attention, the Supremes were the new Martha and the Vandellas [[and thus, Martha and the Vs were now the new Marvelettes). Loyal fans, loyal DJs, still kept the group afloat, but the days of being on top were over. And without the massive hits, there wasn't anything news worthy associated with the group.

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    I don’t think it was disco as they were completely MIA when disco hit.

    The writing was on the wall when new ways but love stays performed way below expectations. 10 months out and your album sales are slipping drastically and you are not drawing as well as you did a year ago and the next year you would not be drawing as well as you were this year, it’s a strong indication that regardless of how good they were or talented they were or how much we want to have them in our lives, the public at large just wasn’t that interested. They had every opportunity with that amazing debut, great records the first year especially, but I think too many people just weren’t excited enough.

    Motown had every reason to feel good about the switch because they had done unexpectedly well when David Ruffin left the group, I don’t think anyone expected them to become even more popular. Certainly there were other factors at play including a change in material, but, a lot of the credit Hass to be given to Dennis Edwards. it just didn’t work out that way with Jean.

    and it’s very difficult to replace a lead singer, how well would the Vandellas have done with a new singer after Martha left? How well did the miracles do without Smokey? They had a big hit record, but they weren’t much of a draw ultimately.

    People like to point fingers and assign blame, but the truth is the new group never was embraced. Having a number seven single, and another that’s in the top 10 for one week does not indicate support for any act, merely interest in the song.

    I don’t know that having a hit like want ads would have made much of a difference because it was a gimmicky kind of song that nobody gave a damn about a year after it was out. It’s not like it was this great record that was going to stand the test of time or anything it hit, burned hot and fizzled away.

    they needed an inroad to the hearts of the public and it didn’t happen. To that point I guess I can see why they thought maybe touch would put them over because the other attempts with Frank Wilson didn’t work well enough. Personally I think touch is a lousy record, but I guess it was worth a try.

    ANMHE worked so well because it was a personal experience shared with the listener plus of course it was fabulous and it was being performed by someone who had literally already made history. They needed something like that or like ran said, I’ll Be There. That might have helped.

    Ultimately, you can’t remove one of the biggest female stars of the music industry and expect anyone, regardless of talent, to succeed. How long did funny girl run after Barbra Streisand left? That’s not really the best example because it did OK after she left, but had she stayed with it for 10 years it probably would still have run because it was her.

    I think way too much was expected of the new group, and I think mary wanted more than anything to show Diana up. She even tried to manipulate the sales figures and chart positions in her book to make it seem like they were much bigger at least for a time, but it’s not true. What is true is that she wanted people to think that, it was important to her, 15 years later, to be able to say that. Maybe if expectations weren’t so high to begin with, Jean and Mary would not have become so disillusioned, accepted their fate, and worked together to make the group as strong as they could. Once they splintered in 1972, I think the situation became untenable trying to maintain that level Of success with an ever-changing lineup.

    The odd thing is, they had plenty of television exposure, but I think it did the more harm than good. I remember being disappointed in most of their television appearances, but I thought I was being just a picky little bitch , Now I think my read was correct: the public just did not like the group enough without diana ross. Jean seemed like a Dennis Edwards, but she wasn’t one.

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    I disagree with the Mary was trying to show Diana up. I think Mary just want to maintain their position.

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    see i'd say the massive hit of Someday, the big hoopla around the new lineup, the big hit with Ladder and SL should have been enough to warrant some sort of bigger "event" in late 70 or early 71. this is something that would have been planned earlier in the year to take advantage of the forecasted excitement with the group. let's face it, the plan for Diana! was initiated well before the taping date, much less the broadcast date.

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    I would say one of the reasons that no one ever mentions is Motown's big push of the Jackson 5. Starting in the early 60's it seemed that Motown had a practice of really pushing one group or artist at a time, until their hits ran out. The Jackson had a run of several #1 records in a row and played to the youth market and I would say that market at the time simply bought more 45s that any other demographic. Motown simply put their resources behind the Jackson 5 while the Supremes took a back seat to them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheMotownManiac View Post
    I don’t think it was disco as they were completely MIA when disco hit.

    The writing was on the wall when new ways but love stays performed way below expectations. 10 months out and your album sales are slipping drastically and you are not drawing as well as you did a year ago and the next year you would not be drawing as well as you were this year, it’s a strong indication that regardless of how good they were or talented they were or how much we want to have them in our lives, the public at large just wasn’t that interested. They had every opportunity with that amazing debut, great records the first year especially, but I think too many people just weren’t excited enough.

    Motown had every reason to feel good about the switch because they had done unexpectedly well when David Ruffin left the group, I don’t think anyone expected them to become even more popular. Certainly there were other factors at play including a change in material, but, a lot of the credit Hass to be given to Dennis Edwards. it just didn’t work out that way with Jean.

    and it’s very difficult to replace a lead singer, how well would the Vandellas have done with a new singer after Martha left? How well did the miracles do without Smokey? They had a big hit record, but they weren’t much of a draw ultimately.

    People like to point fingers and assign blame, but the truth is the new group never was embraced. Having a number seven single, and another that’s in the top 10 for one week does not indicate support for any act, merely interest in the song.

    I don’t know that having a hit like want ads would have made much of a difference because it was a gimmicky kind of song that nobody gave a damn about a year after it was out. It’s not like it was this great record that was going to stand the test of time or anything it hit, burned hot and fizzled away.

    they needed an inroad to the hearts of the public and it didn’t happen. To that point I guess I can see why they thought maybe touch would put them over because the other attempts with Frank Wilson didn’t work well enough. Personally I think touch is a lousy record, but I guess it was worth a try.

    ANMHE worked so well because it was a personal experience shared with the listener plus of course it was fabulous and it was being performed by someone who had literally already made history. They needed something like that or like ran said, I’ll Be There. That might have helped.

    Ultimately, you can’t remove one of the biggest female stars of the music industry and expect anyone, regardless of talent, to succeed. How long did funny girl run after Barbra Streisand left? That’s not really the best example because it did OK after she left, but had she stayed with it for 10 years it probably would still have run because it was her.

    I think way too much was expected of the new group, and I think mary wanted more than anything to show Diana up. She even tried to manipulate the sales figures and chart positions in her book to make it seem like they were much bigger at least for a time, but it’s not true. What is true is that she wanted people to think that, it was important to her, 15 years later, to be able to say that. Maybe if expectations weren’t so high to begin with, Jean and Mary would not have become so disillusioned, accepted their fate, and worked together to make the group as strong as they could. Once they splintered in 1972, I think the situation became untenable trying to maintain that level Of success with an ever-changing lineup.

    The odd thing is, they had plenty of television exposure, but I think it did the more harm than good. I remember being disappointed in most of their television appearances, but I thought I was being just a picky little bitch , Now I think my read was correct: the public just did not like the group enough without diana ross. Jean seemed like a Dennis Edwards, but she wasn’t one.
    Where in Mary's book did she manipulate their success? The proof is in the pudding. Those first two Jean years, the Supremes had better success with singles than Diana did, with the exception of "Mountain". Interestingly, if Mary really wanted to "enhance" the Jean Supremes popularity, she would have pointed out how well the group did on the R&B chart, which she failed to do, even failing to point out that "Stoned Love" topped the R&B chart, a noteworthy thing because "Someday We'll Be Together" was the #1 R&B song when 1970 rolled in, and "Stoned Love" was the #1 R&B song when 1970 rolled out. Everybody and their mama who has written about the Supremes and Diana Ross have pointed out how well the new Supremes did vs how well the newly solo Diana did. That's not manipulation, it's facts.

    Your opinion regarding "Want Ads" aside, I will say that I've heard "Want Ads" played on the radio tons more than I've ever heard either "Ladder" or "Stoned", which leads me to believe that the general public doesn't share your opinion of "Ads". Hits always make the difference, so I'm confused by your statement that you don't know if it would have made a difference. I'm not convinced that Frank Wilson was the producer to keep the Supremes red hot with major hit after major hit. He gave them fantastic album cuts, for sure. But "Nathan" was as close to a red hot hit as Frank got on the group post "Stoned Love". They needed something that was going to send people out in droves to grab the latest release. As with any act, public fervor diminishes when the public doesn't get what it wants. The Supremes could've survived "Touch" by rebounding with something groundbreaking. They didn't. "Floy Joy" was pretty much the last of the official hits. It's success boggles my mind, as I'm not much of a fan of the song, but there was something there that the public seemed to enjoy, even if it still wasn't the massive hit that the group needed. Hits drive it all. It's importance can't be underestimated.

    The Jean Supremes had 2 top 10 pop hits, an additional 3 top 20 pop hits, 2 additional top 40 cuts, and 5 songs that didn't make it past #50. On the r&b chart their success was a bit better: 1 #1 hit, 4 top 10s, 1 that stalled at #11, 2 additional top 40 cuts, and 4 that missed the top 40, including two that didn't chart at all.

    During that same time, Diana Ross had 2 #1 pop hits, no additional top 10s, 2 top 20, 3 additional top 40, and 1 single that missed the top 40. As with the Jean Supremes, she did a little better r&b: 1 #1 hit, 3 additional top 10s, 3 additional top 20, and 1 additional top 40.

    The 70s Supremes were going to always suffer in the shadow of the 60s Supremes. There was no getting around that. What Diana, Flo and Mary accomplished was not going to be duplicated [[still hasn't been duplicated by any female group to date). Even DRATS couldn't sustain what DFM were able to do, and had it not been for "Love Child" and "Someday We'll Be Together", in particular, the DRATS period might have been one big flop. One has to wonder how well the television special would have done had it not been for the inclusion of the Tempts, and the fact that at the time that it aired, DRATS was riding high on "Love Child".

    The public proved with "Ladder" and "Stoned" that they did not have a problem with Jean or the fact that Diana was no longer a member of the group. The public proved that, like DRATS, if the group wasn't going to release singles that moved them, they would turn their attention elsewhere. The public moved on. The Supremes never rebounded. And the rest is history.

    But using the group's eventual lack of success as some kind of knock against Jean is unfair and inaccurate, IMO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blackguy69 View Post
    I disagree with the Mary was trying to show Diana up. I think Mary just want to maintain their position.
    Agreed. I imagine there was some friendly competition between both of them, but ultimately Mary wanted to continue to succeed, as Diana wanted to do the same. What idiot accomplishes what Mary and Diana did and then suddenly not give a shit? I think both women had too much going on in their lives to even pay much attention to what the other was doing, or not doing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SatansBlues View Post
    I would say one of the reasons that no one ever mentions is Motown's big push of the Jackson 5. Starting in the early 60's it seemed that Motown had a practice of really pushing one group or artist at a time, until their hits ran out. The Jackson had a run of several #1 records in a row and played to the youth market and I would say that market at the time simply bought more 45s that any other demographic. Motown simply put their resources behind the Jackson 5 while the Supremes took a back seat to them.
    Agreed to a point. The J5 factor in, but again, if Motown was hellbent on the Jean Supremes staying on top, there would have been a push to do something groundbreaking when "Touch" failed to make it. Switching them to Smokey just doesn't seem to be the big idea that it might have seemed at the time. And I'm on record with my love of the FJ album. I just don't think Smokey was the right pairing for something truly noteworthy.

    One issue that I think the group faced was where they were vs the J5. The Supremes were teenagers when half the J5 was born. These new Supremes came across more sophisticated than youthful, and I think Jean was a big part of that. Diana always had this "childlike" exuberance to her onstage persona that made even DRATS, with all of it's glitz and glamour, and the fact that Cindy was old as dirt [[joke), still give off an air of youth. Jean was all woman. She was built like a woman, she carried herself with extreme regalness. Her facial expressions, her movements while performing: she was a Queen.

    The trick would've been pairing this new, more adult Supremes with material that would transcend ages. They needed music that was going to capture the J5 crowd as well as the Roberta Flack crowd. The Jean Supremes probably hung on as long as they did because they held a certain appeal for the adult audience, but dropped off because they lacked the appeal to the youth crowd. Motown could've done more to bridge this gap. Frank may have been tapped out. Smokey really wasn't the answer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    Agreed to a point. The J5 factor in, but again, if Motown was hellbent on the Jean Supremes staying on top, there would have been a push to do something groundbreaking when "Touch" failed to make it. Switching them to Smokey just doesn't seem to be the big idea that it might have seemed at the time. And I'm on record with my love of the FJ album. I just don't think Smokey was the right pairing for something truly noteworthy.

    One issue that I think the group faced was where they were vs the J5. The Supremes were teenagers when half the J5 was born. These new Supremes came across more sophisticated than youthful, and I think Jean was a big part of that. Diana always had this "childlike" exuberance to her onstage persona that made even DRATS, with all of it's glitz and glamour, and the fact that Cindy was old as dirt [[joke), still give off an air of youth. Jean was all woman. She was built like a woman, she carried herself with extreme regalness. Her facial expressions, her movements while performing: she was a Queen.

    The trick would've been pairing this new, more adult Supremes with material that would transcend ages. They needed music that was going to capture the J5 crowd as well as the Roberta Flack crowd. The Jean Supremes probably hung on as long as they did because they held a certain appeal for the adult audience, but dropped off because they lacked the appeal to the youth crowd. Motown could've done more to bridge this gap. Frank may have been tapped out. Smokey really wasn't the answer.
    Another factor that folks either ignore or gloss over is the conversation Berry Gordy had with Mary Wilson on January 14, 1970 after the groups final performance with Diana Ross and Jean Terrell was introduced. This is when Berry informed Mary that he wanted to replace Jean with Syreeta Wright and Mary refused to go along with the plan, after just having intro Jean to the public that very night. Berry informed Mary that he was washing his hands of the group. I think in between moving the company to Los Angeles, launching the solo career of Diana Ross and shifting his attention to making movies Berry didn't have the time for another argument, he was the boss after all. People downplay that power move and look what happened to the group after 2-2 1/2 years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SatansBlues View Post
    Another factor that folks either ignore or gloss over is the conversation Berry Gordy had with Mary Wilson on January 14, 1970 after the groups final performance with Diana Ross and Jean Terrell was introduced. This is when Berry informed Mary that he wanted to replace Jean with Syreeta Wright and Mary refused to go along with the plan, after just having intro Jean to the public that very night. Berry informed Mary that he was washing his hands of the group. I think in between moving the company to Los Angeles, launching the solo career of Diana Ross and shifting his attention to making movies Berry didn't have the time for another argument, he was the boss after all. People downplay that power move and look what happened to the group after 2-2 1/2 years.
    Well, some people question whether this happened at all. Others, like myself, or maybe I'm the only one, believe that the conversation did happen, but Gordy was not serious with his suggestion. It was a power play for sure, but it was Gordy's way of getting off the hook. He was the boss. If he wanted to replace Jean with Minnie Mouse right up until the moment the new Supremes went onstage for their debut on Sullivan, he could've done it and there wouldn't have been a damn thing any Supreme, Mary included, could do about it. Gordy was no idiot. Anything about Jean that was less than Supreme, he would've seen it and heard it in the six months prior to January 14th. If Syreeta was truly worthy of being a Supreme, she had been with Motown since 1967 and he never would have had to look for a Diana replacement since she was already with the company. Furthermore, a ton of time and attention had been put into Jean as a Supreme. No way does Gordy nix it all at the last minute. That call was him knowing that Mary would be expecting him to give the Supremes his valuable attention when he had known for awhile that once Diana was gone, he would give the group over to others and put his weight behind Diana. So as soon as Mary cried "Berry, you aren't taking care of us the way you used to", Gordy could reply "You're right Mary. But had you gone with my plan to replace Jean with Syreeta, you could've had me. You didn't, so now you don't."

    Hands washed, guilt free, everything is Mary's fault.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    Well, some people question whether this happened at all. Others, like myself, or maybe I'm the only one, believe that the conversation did happen, but Gordy was not serious with his suggestion. It was a power play for sure, but it was Gordy's way of getting off the hook. He was the boss. If he wanted to replace Jean with Minnie Mouse right up until the moment the new Supremes went onstage for their debut on Sullivan, he could've done it and there wouldn't have been a damn thing any Supreme, Mary included, could do about it. Gordy was no idiot. Anything about Jean that was less than Supreme, he would've seen it and heard it in the six months prior to January 14th. If Syreeta was truly worthy of being a Supreme, she had been with Motown since 1967 and he never would have had to look for a Diana replacement since she was already with the company. Furthermore, a ton of time and attention had been put into Jean as a Supreme. No way does Gordy nix it all at the last minute. That call was him knowing that Mary would be expecting him to give the Supremes his valuable attention when he had known for awhile that once Diana was gone, he would give the group over to others and put his weight behind Diana. So as soon as Mary cried "Berry, you aren't taking care of us the way you used to", Gordy could reply "You're right Mary. But had you gone with my plan to replace Jean with Syreeta, you could've had me. You didn't, so now you don't."

    Hands washed, guilt free, everything is Mary's fault.
    If switching to Syreeta might as you say have been a bluff, what would BG have done if Mary had said yes, brilliant idea Berry, i’m all for that.
    It is possible that he and Jean had a fall out just prior to the final frontier concert. Remember ‘control’ was his middle name and Jean was to a certain degree her own woman.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    Agreed to a point. The J5 factor in, but again, if Motown was hellbent on the Jean Supremes staying on top, there would have been a push to do something groundbreaking when "Touch" failed to make it. Switching them to Smokey just doesn't seem to be the big idea that it might have seemed at the time. And I'm on record with my love of the FJ album. I just don't think Smokey was the right pairing for something truly noteworthy.

    One issue that I think the group faced was where they were vs the J5. The Supremes were teenagers when half the J5 was born. These new Supremes came across more sophisticated than youthful, and I think Jean was a big part of that. Diana always had this "childlike" exuberance to her onstage persona that made even DRATS, with all of it's glitz and glamour, and the fact that Cindy was old as dirt [[joke), still give off an air of youth. Jean was all woman. She was built like a woman, she carried herself with extreme regalness. Her facial expressions, her movements while performing: she was a Queen.

    The trick would've been pairing this new, more adult Supremes with material that would transcend ages. They needed music that was going to capture the J5 crowd as well as the Roberta Flack crowd. The Jean Supremes probably hung on as long as they did because they held a certain appeal for the adult audience, but dropped off because they lacked the appeal to the youth crowd. Motown could've done more to bridge this gap. Frank may have been tapped out. Smokey really wasn't the answer.
    i agree. what i interpret that you're saying here is that the Supremes needed to grow up. and i'm saying that in a good way. look at the maturation that Diana had between 1970 and 73. she'd had a child, gotten married, stared in Lady. and that growth showed in her recordings

    the supremes needed to grow up with their fans. they were not the bubble gun or teeny bopper crowd like they might have been in 65. college age should have been more of their target now. and to relate with that age group, the sups needed to be more real and less toney.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    Well, some people question whether this happened at all. Others, like myself, or maybe I'm the only one, believe that the conversation did happen, but Gordy was not serious with his suggestion. It was a power play for sure, but it was Gordy's way of getting off the hook. He was the boss. If he wanted to replace Jean with Minnie Mouse right up until the moment the new Supremes went onstage for their debut on Sullivan, he could've done it and there wouldn't have been a damn thing any Supreme, Mary included, could do about it. Gordy was no idiot. Anything about Jean that was less than Supreme, he would've seen it and heard it in the six months prior to January 14th. If Syreeta was truly worthy of being a Supreme, she had been with Motown since 1967 and he never would have had to look for a Diana replacement since she was already with the company. Furthermore, a ton of time and attention had been put into Jean as a Supreme. No way does Gordy nix it all at the last minute. That call was him knowing that Mary would be expecting him to give the Supremes his valuable attention when he had known for awhile that once Diana was gone, he would give the group over to others and put his weight behind Diana. So as soon as Mary cried "Berry, you aren't taking care of us the way you used to", Gordy could reply "You're right Mary. But had you gone with my plan to replace Jean with Syreeta, you could've had me. You didn't, so now you don't."

    Hands washed, guilt free, everything is Mary's fault.
    I know it's an inconvenient fact to your hypothesis but I don't know anyone who disputes Mary's account. Not to mention that Berry Gordy never disputed this story. So there's that. I will take someone's word who was there and a part of the conversation over "some people's questions". How absurd.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SatansBlues View Post
    I know it's an inconvenient fact to your hypothesis but I don't know anyone who disputes Mary's account. Not to mention that Berry Gordy never disputed this story. So there's that. I will take someone's word who was there and a part of the conversation over "some people's questions". How absurd.
    Cindy also mentioned that Berry wanted Syreeta and following the farewell there was a big blow up about this. But she said she and Mary stood their ground and that was that.

    So i don't know that anyone is completely questioning the overall topic. I do have a bit of question about the specific phone call at 5:00 am or something. and more so about Mary's apparent shock at the discussion. My theory is that there HAD to be at least SOME discussion prior to the morning of Jan 15, 1970. There had to have been some problems in the recording studio, arguments about what songs would be in the stage show, disagreements about this or that.

    but this is also just about hypothesizing. None of us where there for ANY of these specific actions or activities. at best a very few of us were in attendance at a show or two, or maybe chatted with the girls backstage. So it's absolutely just speculation for sake of dialog.

    And let's be very clear that much of Mary's book is definitely "from her perspective" and might be very much open to debate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ollie9 View Post
    If switching to Syreeta might as you say have been a bluff, what would BG have done if Mary had said yes, brilliant idea Berry, i’m all for that.
    It is possible that he and Jean had a fall out just prior to the final frontier concert. Remember ‘control’ was his middle name and Jean was to a certain degree her own woman.
    He would have slapped his forehead, and in his best Homer Simpson impression before there was ever a Homer Simpson, he would have said "Doh!"

    All jokes aside, Gordy was a man of the street. He always knew his adversary. Just like when he and Flo used to go at it, he knew what buttons to push. He could probably predict Flo's behavior before she did or said anything in response to something he did or said. I believe he knew Mary the same way. The truth is that Gordy replacing Jean at the last minute would've been unprofessional. Jean had been introduced in the media and at the Farewell show as Diana's replacement. Mary was a consummate professional and Gordy had to know she'd have a problem with what was sure to be a messy situation. This wasn't replacing Florence, this was replacing Diana. He knew how Mary would react.

    As far as I'm concerned, this is the only scenario that makes sense. Jean had been recording with the Supremes, rehearsing with the Supremes. Despite a certain fraction of the fandom that believes Motown didn't give a single shit about the Supremes without Diana, the truth is that the label devoted time and attention to the group and was invested in their continued success at the beginning. So Mary goes along with Gordy's plan. I guess it wouldn't take much to have Syreeta step in inside the studio on potential recordings, but what about the stage show? Was Syreeta a dancer? Was she a quick study? Could she get the stage routines down quickly? Would Syreeta have even been interested in the job? I know it's easy to believe that every female singer between Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin would have killed to be lead singer of the Supremes, the truth is that's just not true. So Syreeta declines the offer? Now what?

    There's no way Gordy runs his business that way. I'll never believe it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    i agree. what i interpret that you're saying here is that the Supremes needed to grow up. and i'm saying that in a good way. look at the maturation that Diana had between 1970 and 73. she'd had a child, gotten married, stared in Lady. and that growth showed in her recordings

    the supremes needed to grow up with their fans. they were not the bubble gun or teeny bopper crowd like they might have been in 65. college age should have been more of their target now. and to relate with that age group, the sups needed to be more real and less toney.
    I wouldn't say they needed to grow up. I think they were too mature for the general buying public, which was certainly the J5 crowd and the college aged folks. They definitely needed to be more real and more hip. Yes, that's the problem with the new Supremes after "Nathan Jones", they lacked a certain hipness. The Supremes name came with a built in fandom. They came with a built in ability to garner attention because of what the 60s Supremes had done. Half the battle was already won for the new grouping. Had they been able to hook up with a producer who could give them songs that made them as hip as anybody else having hits at the time, the group could've forged along as major stars for a time longer. The Staple Singers didn't look hip, but their songs were all the rage with everybody. The Supremes needed a huge hit that resonated with the public and an album that went along with it. The album couldn't be a bunch of random tracks either, there had to be some kind of cohesive theme. Albums were the "it" thing. The Supremes never really got in on it, despite those Jean albums [[minus JW) being very good to great, IMO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SatansBlues View Post
    I know it's an inconvenient fact to your hypothesis but I don't know anyone who disputes Mary's account. Not to mention that Berry Gordy never disputed this story. So there's that. I will take someone's word who was there and a part of the conversation over "some people's questions". How absurd.
    Welcome to the forum. If you have the time to search, and don't mind driving yourself crazy, there are indeed opinions here in Soulful Detroit that either insinuate or downright question whether Mary made the story up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    Welcome to the forum. If you have the time to search, and don't mind driving yourself crazy, there are indeed opinions here in Soulful Detroit that either insinuate or downright question whether Mary made the story up.
    I've been around for a while. I'm well aware of how things can go sideways in Supreme threads. I don't take these posts too seriously.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    He would have slapped his forehead, and in his best Homer Simpson impression before there was ever a Homer Simpson, he would have said "Doh!"

    All jokes aside, Gordy was a man of the street. He always knew his adversary. Just like when he and Flo used to go at it, he knew what buttons to push. He could probably predict Flo's behavior before she did or said anything in response to something he did or said. I believe he knew Mary the same way. The truth is that Gordy replacing Jean at the last minute would've been unprofessional. Jean had been introduced in the media and at the Farewell show as Diana's replacement. Mary was a consummate professional and Gordy had to know she'd have a problem with what was sure to be a messy situation. This wasn't replacing Florence, this was replacing Diana. He knew how Mary would react.

    As far as I'm concerned, this is the only scenario that makes sense. Jean had been recording with the Supremes, rehearsing with the Supremes. Despite a certain fraction of the fandom that believes Motown didn't give a single shit about the Supremes without Diana, the truth is that the label devoted time and attention to the group and was invested in their continued success at the beginning. So Mary goes along with Gordy's plan. I guess it wouldn't take much to have Syreeta step in inside the studio on potential recordings, but what about the stage show? Was Syreeta a dancer? Was she a quick study? Could she get the stage routines down quickly? Would Syreeta have even been interested in the job? I know it's easy to believe that every female singer between Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin would have killed to be lead singer of the Supremes, the truth is that's just not true. So Syreeta declines the offer? Now what?

    There's no way Gordy runs his business that way. I'll never believe it.
    Its certainly food for thought and a real possibility. The only discrepancy in the theory is that after Mary telling BG ‘no way’, surely at some point she would have spoken to Syreeta to confirm that BG had indeed asked her to take over as lead singer of her group.
    If he was bluffing, all is revealed.
    I wonder if the novelty of having a white lead singer singer might have worked. The British singer Polly Brown had a voice that was extremely similar in style and tone to Diana’s. She recorded her own version of the the “Theme From Mahogany”.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    I wouldn't say they needed to grow up. I think they were too mature for the general buying public, which was certainly the J5 crowd and the college aged folks. They definitely needed to be more real and more hip. Yes, that's the problem with the new Supremes after "Nathan Jones", they lacked a certain hipness. The Supremes name came with a built in fandom. They came with a built in ability to garner attention because of what the 60s Supremes had done. Half the battle was already won for the new grouping. Had they been able to hook up with a producer who could give them songs that made them as hip as anybody else having hits at the time, the group could've forged along as major stars for a time longer. The Staple Singers didn't look hip, but their songs were all the rage with everybody. The Supremes needed a huge hit that resonated with the public and an album that went along with it. The album couldn't be a bunch of random tracks either, there had to be some kind of cohesive theme. Albums were the "it" thing. The Supremes never really got in on it, despite those Jean albums [[minus JW) being very good to great, IMO.
    that might be poor word choice on my part. what i meant was their earlier fans were getting older. and the Sups should have evolved their approach to things into more of a college/young adult target. like Stevie did

    another problem with the Supremes is that the whole brand had become so heavily focused on image and their style. and i don't think they had to abandon that. but they needed to evolve from it some.

    I'd speculate that if:

    1. motown had properly titled the single STONE Love
    2. the NW album was redone with better cover art/tweaks to the song lineup maybe too
    3. skip the duets
    4. had some "big event" scheduled for this time like a tv special or something really big

    then SL would have gone to #1 and the Stone Love lp would have charted very well too

    then in early 71 the show is significantly updated and refreshed, cutting much of the showtunes and fluff. Do another follow up single like Thank Him or Together to further push lp sales

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    Most of the show tunes were basically cut when Jean came on but I would have 3 separate shows. One for the club audience and one for the kids.
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    that might be poor word choice on my part. what i meant was their earlier fans were getting older. and the Sups should have evolved their approach to things into more of a college/young adult target. like Stevie did

    another problem with the Supremes is that the whole brand had become so heavily focused on image and their style. and i don't think they had to abandon that. but they needed to evolve from it some.

    I'd speculate that if:

    1. motown had properly titled the single STONE Love
    2. the NW album was redone with better cover art/tweaks to the song lineup maybe too
    3. skip the duets
    4. had some "big event" scheduled for this time like a tv special or something really big

    then SL would have gone to #1 and the Stone Love lp would have charted very well too

    then in early 71 the show is significantly updated and refreshed, cutting much of the showtunes and fluff. Do another follow up single like Thank Him or Together to further push lp sales

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    I think the biggest issue for the 70's Supremes was weak album sales.

    They should have ditched the albums with the Four Tops or perhaps released only one album with River Deep Mountain High and the best of the other cuts.

    But they needed to significantly improve the quality of NWBLS. Again, maybe ditch many or most of the cuts - like Come Together and Bridge Over Troubled Water - and take the best of the Touch cuts and make one album; definitely scrap Touch as a single and maybe delete the song entirely.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jobeterob View Post
    I think the biggest issue for the 70's Supremes was weak album sales.

    They should have ditched the albums with the Four Tops or perhaps released only one album with River Deep Mountain High and the best of the other cuts.

    But they needed to significantly improve the quality of NWBLS. Again, maybe ditch many or most of the cuts - like Come Together and Bridge Over Troubled Water - and take the best of the Touch cuts and make one album; definitely scrap Touch as a single and maybe delete the song entirely.
    overall i think NW was a solid album. but it could have been a GREAT album. i would describe this as a Rock/Soul Opera album. this combination of the motown beat, Jean's soulful vocals, the heavier guitar and rock influences and then this majestic concept of aspiring to a higher power.

    IMO Side 1 is excellent as is. But I'd adjust Side 2 a little. here's my lineup

    Together
    Stoned Love
    Time to break down
    Bridge
    I wish i were your mirror

    Time and love
    Is there a place
    Baby Baby [[i would have saved this rather than use on RO. maybe Mind Body & Soul, Stepping on a dream, Between Sunday and monday or Na Na could easily plug into RO and still have a wonderful lp)
    Shine on me
    Thank him for today

    The use the afro cover and something like this on the back art:

    Name:  green fringe.jpg
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Size:  57.2 KB

    and the actually use the inside of the gatefold for something interesting - short bios on the girls, b&w pics of them on stage, on tour, in the studio, etc.

    Plus imagine a huge cardboard in-store or window display. 3 dimensional with an alt version of the afro shot. DAMN!!

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    They became increasingly unlikeable.

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    The new Supremes weren't too old. The two biggest selling women on the record charts in 1971 -- Carole King and Aretha Franklin -- were both born in 1942, two years before Mary.

    Carole sang two "old" songs -- Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow and A Natural Woman -- on Tapestry, which for many years was the biggest selling album ever. Aretha had a hit with her surprising version of Bridge Over Troubled Water, a song also covered by the new Supremes. So "oldies" were acceptable. But the two solo performers treated these "old" songs as something new, in their own style. Too, they had pared down backing, with a heavy emphasis on the piano each played, making their interpretations sound contemporary and honest, adult and personal.

    On the other hand, the new Supremes seemed to be caught in the land of 1967 Marvelettes' material, with meticulous, sometimes intricate instrumental backgrounds that maybe went too far, as with the dated sound effects on the group's Bridge... Also, on songs like It's Time To Break Down, the instrumental track, while youth-oriented, was too much. No one thought Jean, Mary and Cindy were handling the guitars, so the extended backgrounds diminished the contributions of the singers, who seemed almost disengaged. The women were in the room, following, not establishing, the beat; once in awhile they sang a few words or phrases, as they might if they were at a bar that featured live acts, but they were overshadowed by the band, or by the multi-layered vocal backgrounds, and they were only minimally important. [[That structure also hindered Norman Whitfield's presentations of The Temptations and other groups.) When the group did step forward, as with I Wish I Were Your Mirror, their vocals sounded frantic and the lyrics were a bit silly and maybe threatening. [[When I look in the mirror, I don't want to see Jean Terrell looking back at me.)

    Had the new Supremes concentrated on songs like I Keep It Hid or possibly even I Guess I'll Miss The Man, with a strong emphasis on their individual voices and subdued harmony backing, they could have sounded more contemporary and more in control of their projects. Had they chosen songs that had messages or conveyed relatable feelings and experiences, they could have touched hearts. They could have appealed to teen, college and young and not-so-young adults.

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    Quote Originally Posted by benross View Post
    The new Supremes weren't too old. The two biggest selling women on the record charts in 1971 -- Carole King and Aretha Franklin -- were both born in 1942, two years before Mary.

    Carole sang two "old" songs -- Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow and A Natural Woman -- on Tapestry, which for many years was the biggest selling album ever. Aretha had a hit with her surprising version of Bridge Over Troubled Water, a song also covered by the new Supremes. So "oldies" were acceptable. But the two solo performers treated these "old" songs as something new, in their own style. Too, they had pared down backing, with a heavy emphasis on the piano each played, making their interpretations sound contemporary and honest, adult and personal.

    On the other hand, the new Supremes seemed to be caught in the land of 1967 Marvelettes' material, with meticulous, sometimes intricate instrumental backgrounds that maybe went too far, as with the dated sound effects on the group's Bridge... Also, on songs like It's Time To Break Down, the instrumental track, while youth-oriented, was too much. No one thought Jean, Mary and Cindy were handling the guitars, so the extended backgrounds diminished the contributions of the singers, who seemed almost disengaged. The women were in the room, following, not establishing, the beat; once in awhile they sang a few words or phrases, as they might if they were at a bar that featured live acts, but they were overshadowed by the band, or by the multi-layered vocal backgrounds, and they were only minimally important. [[That structure also hindered Norman Whitfield's presentations of The Temptations and other groups.) When the group did step forward, as with I Wish I Were Your Mirror, their vocals sounded frantic and the lyrics were a bit silly and maybe threatening. [[When I look in the mirror, I don't want to see Jean Terrell looking back at me.)

    Had the new Supremes concentrated on songs like I Keep It Hid or possibly even I Guess I'll Miss The Man, with a strong emphasis on their individual voices and subdued harmony backing, they could have sounded more contemporary and more in control of their projects. Had they chosen songs that had messages or conveyed relatable feelings and experiences, they could have touched hearts. They could have appealed to teen, college and young and not-so-young adults.
    interesting points. while i've always liked NW and all, i will absolutely admit it boarders on over production. the sound effects, the massive orchestrations, the extended tracks that focus more on instrumentation versus vocals, the multi-layered vocals too. Still i like the overall effect

    also i remember fans sharing on here a discussion with Cindy and how she stated it was impossible for the live versions to ever fully live up to the amazing studio versions because of all of this. especially the layer vocals.

    I think the FJ album is a welcome change of pace from the heaviness of NW and Touch. again, i love those Frank Wilson albums but there is a LOT going on with them. FJ is much lighter and more focused on vocals and simpler instrumentation.

    And this also is why i think the JW set was such a disappointment. the initial idea is one i think could have had real promise and interest. but pretty much every aspect of the released album is a disappointment to me

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    but then it could also be said that because of the arrival of disco , The Supremes were given an extended lifeline. Now there was an arena for them to try to thrive in.

    But disco didn't exist in the early seventies ...what to do with them ? Smokey gave it a shot , but didn't hit a home -run. They made the extraordinary decision to bring in an outside producer to totally compose their next release. I doubt this was done nonchalantly, and the choice of Jimmy Webb must have been in the hopes that they might be tailored to suit a Fifth Dimension type of fan base.

    Motown must have been shocked by how bad the project turned out , and it set the group back even more. The label sat on the LP for months before finally releasing it sort of incognito.
    Last edited by Boogiedown; 08-05-2021 at 11:23 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    but then it could also be said that because of the arrival of disco , The Supremes were given an extended lifeline. Now there was an arena for them to try to thrive in.

    But disco didn't exist in the early seventies ...what to do with them ? Smokey gave it a shot , but didn't hit a home -run. They made the extraordinary decision to bring in an outside producer to totally compose their next release. I doubt this was done nonchalantly, and the choice of Jimmy Webb must have been in the hopes that they might be tailored to suit a Fifth Dimension type of fan base.

    Motown must have been shocked by how bad the project turned out , and it set the group back even more. The label sat on the LP for months before finally releasing it sort of incognito.
    wouldn't it be fascinating to have some of the internal content, memos, meeting transcripts, etc from this period shared? I totally agree with everything you said.

    JCM started working with frank wilson and had initial success with their singles. But the lps charted progressively poored and the 2 singles from Touch underperformed.

    So they shifted to Smokey. the first single and the album did ok but then later singles underperformed

    so they then decide to try something TOTALLY different. an outside producer!! and i think we very much overlook this fact. Gordy had experimented with the unheard of by have Bones explore some things with Diana. Did any other groups have such a large project with an outsider? i can't think of any

    but damn. they did it and it bombed.

    So you're totally right. now there are many more reasons as to WHY some of these projects underwhelmed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    but then it could also be said that because of the arrival of disco , The Supremes were given an extended lifeline. Now there was an arena for them to try to thrive in.

    But disco didn't exist in the early seventies ...what to do with them ? Smokey gave it a shot , but didn't hit a home -run. They made the extraordinary decision to bring in an outside producer to totally compose their next release. I doubt this was done nonchalantly, and the choice of Jimmy Webb must have been in the hopes that they might be tailored to suit a Fifth Dimension type of fan base.

    Motown must have been shocked by how bad the project turned out , and it set the group back even more. The label sat on the LP for months before finally releasing it sort of incognito.
    and i also agree about the potential resurgence with disco. the concept of "The Supremes" might have been less relevant in 72 and 73 - you had the singer/song writer explosion then. self-contained groups and artists. the rise of other more "soulful" labels and groups

    but by 75 and 76, disco is starting to break through. culturally people were shifting from the earthier look of the early 70s to the more glamorous.

    So it's totally possible to see that the Supremes to re-find a solid market with the traditional brand image and concept

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    The New Supremes and Motown should have embraced disco more early on. Look at the Miracles's two biggest records post Smokey, Do It Baby went to #13 on the pop charts and #4 on the R&B Charts in '74 and '75. Eddie Kendricks's biggest song Keep On Truckin hit #1 on both the pop & R&B charts, the follow up single Boogie Down went to #2 on the pop charts and #1 on the R&B charts in '73. David Ruffin hit #9 pop and #1 R&B with Walk Away From Love in '75 . Dancing Machine hit #5 pop and #1 R&B in '74 for the Jackson 5 shortly before they left Motown.

    Motown had been known for putting out great dance records and they were successful. But somehow the Supremes missed the boat, songs like Touch, Bad Weather and I Guess I'll Miss The Man were never going to be hits, for anyone. He's My Man is a half-way descent dance record but I just don't see too many boys and men buying a record with that title or calling into radio stations to get it played. The groups chart showing suffered because the songs weren't special or memorable.

    The Supremes were simply traveling in the wrong lane musically after '72. I love Smokey and the FJ album is nice and all, but it's not groundbreaking or updated, not like the music being put out by Marvin and Stevie. And nothing on FJ sounds as fresh and current like Aretha Frankin's Rock Steady in 71 or Daydreaming in '72.
    I think part of the problem was that Motown's inhouse songwriters had gotten stale and as a result nearly all of their artists suffered, exceptions being Marvin and Stevie who were writing and producing their own material. Just my two cents.

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    Weren't Jimmy Webb's best days as a hitmaker behind him by 1972? Who would have been a hot outside producer they could have called on instead? Not including Gamble/Huff and PIR team as they had their in house thing going on?

    Does anyone think the Supremes should have done a publicity stunt to garner attention to them as they were fading from the pop scene? What would have grabbed major attention in the 70s?

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    Quote Originally Posted by SatansBlues View Post
    The New Supremes and Motown should have embraced disco more early on. Look at the Miracles's two biggest records post Smokey, Do It Baby went to #13 on the pop charts and #4 on the R&B Charts in '74 and '75. Eddie Kendricks's biggest song Keep On Truckin hit #1 on both the pop & R&B charts, the follow up single Boogie Down went to #2 on the pop charts and #1 on the R&B charts in '73. David Ruffin hit #9 pop and #1 R&B with Walk Away From Love in '75 . Dancing Machine hit #5 pop and #1 R&B in '74 for the Jackson 5 shortly before they left Motown.

    Motown had been known for putting out great dance records and they were successful. But somehow the Supremes missed the boat, songs like Touch, Bad Weather and I Guess I'll Miss The Man were never going to be hits, for anyone. He's My Man is a half-way descent dance record but I just don't see too many boys and men buying a record with that title or calling into radio stations to get it played. The groups chart showing suffered because the songs weren't special or memorable.

    The Supremes were simply traveling in the wrong lane musically after '72. I love Smokey and the FJ album is nice and all, but it's not groundbreaking or updated, not like the music being put out by Marvin and Stevie. And nothing on FJ sounds as fresh and current like Aretha Frankin's Rock Steady in 71 or Daydreaming in '72.
    I think part of the problem was that Motown's inhouse songwriters had gotten stale and as a result nearly all of their artists suffered, exceptions being Marvin and Stevie who were writing and producing their own material. Just my two cents.
    valid point that maybe some of the motown content was getting stale. but the temps were still hot on the charts with the Norman material. the J5 were hot until 72/73. Diana was huge in 73 with TMITM.

    Eddie and Keep On Truckin' was definitely a precursor to the bigger disco scene. and there were other dance tracks that started hit the charts too, with other artists. Disco [[as we know it today) was heavily centered in the larger east coast urban areas like Philadelphia, DC/Baltimore, NYC. Miami too with the more Latin-infused disco sounds. it started in the more underground gay and black clubs and parties. Motown was out in LA so their writers and all wouldn't necessarily have access to this emerging trend. Both the gay and black demographics were often overlooked by industry execs too. so unless you were really there and in the thick of things, you wouldn't necessarily be in tune with it

    also much of the early success of disco was due to hot djs in these clubs and their work with stringing together a bunch of songs to create elongated sequences of non-stop dance. These guys really helped to bring this to a whole new level. and again, unless you were familiar with that they were doing, you wouldn't be in the know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spreadinglove21 View Post
    Weren't Jimmy Webb's best days as a hitmaker behind him by 1972? Who would have been a hot outside producer they could have called on instead? Not including Gamble/Huff and PIR team as they had their in house thing going on?

    Does anyone think the Supremes should have done a publicity stunt to garner attention to them as they were fading from the pop scene? What would have grabbed major attention in the 70s?
    i agree that I wouldn't necessarily have first thought of JW either. he had some big songs. One interesting fact is he was releasing Letters in 72 also and it includes he own version of Once In The Morning and When Can Brown Begin. He was also very close with Joni Mitchell and one of her engineers even worked on Letters. All I Want is a Joni song.

    seems like his albums were critical successes but didn't do much in terms of chart action or radio play. perhaps they should have gone with a producer with more of sales reputation

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ollie9 View Post
    Its certainly food for thought and a real possibility. The only discrepancy in the theory is that after Mary telling BG ‘no way’, surely at some point she would have spoken to Syreeta to confirm that BG had indeed asked her to take over as lead singer of her group.
    If he was bluffing, all is revealed.
    I wonder if the novelty of having a white lead singer singer might have worked. The British singer Polly Brown had a voice that was extremely similar in style and tone to Diana’s. She recorded her own version of the the “Theme From Mahogany”.
    I once read where Cindy said she and Mary didn't like Syreeta or didn't get along with her, something along those lines. So if that's true, that would've been another reason for Mary to put her foot down. Also, one has to wonder how much contact the ladies would've had at that point where Mary confirms with Syreeta anything.

    As for a white lead singer, I think that would not have gone down well with much of anybody. The group would've certainly have lost much of it's Black fan base and Black radio as well, which was sometimes the only thing that was keeping the group afloat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    I'd speculate that if:

    1. motown had properly titled the single STONE Love
    2. the NW album was redone with better cover art/tweaks to the song lineup maybe too
    3. skip the duets
    4. had some "big event" scheduled for this time like a tv special or something really big
    I think these would all have resulted in better success. If only we could put you in a time machine and send you back to have some words with the Motown brass.

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    Quote Originally Posted by benross View Post
    The new Supremes weren't too old. The two biggest selling women on the record charts in 1971 -- Carole King and Aretha Franklin -- were both born in 1942, two years before Mary.

    Carole sang two "old" songs -- Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow and A Natural Woman -- on Tapestry, which for many years was the biggest selling album ever. Aretha had a hit with her surprising version of Bridge Over Troubled Water, a song also covered by the new Supremes. So "oldies" were acceptable. But the two solo performers treated these "old" songs as something new, in their own style. Too, they had pared down backing, with a heavy emphasis on the piano each played, making their interpretations sound contemporary and honest, adult and personal.

    On the other hand, the new Supremes seemed to be caught in the land of 1967 Marvelettes' material, with meticulous, sometimes intricate instrumental backgrounds that maybe went too far, as with the dated sound effects on the group's Bridge... Also, on songs like It's Time To Break Down, the instrumental track, while youth-oriented, was too much. No one thought Jean, Mary and Cindy were handling the guitars, so the extended backgrounds diminished the contributions of the singers, who seemed almost disengaged. The women were in the room, following, not establishing, the beat; once in awhile they sang a few words or phrases, as they might if they were at a bar that featured live acts, but they were overshadowed by the band, or by the multi-layered vocal backgrounds, and they were only minimally important. [[That structure also hindered Norman Whitfield's presentations of The Temptations and other groups.) When the group did step forward, as with I Wish I Were Your Mirror, their vocals sounded frantic and the lyrics were a bit silly and maybe threatening. [[When I look in the mirror, I don't want to see Jean Terrell looking back at me.)

    Had the new Supremes concentrated on songs like I Keep It Hid or possibly even I Guess I'll Miss The Man, with a strong emphasis on their individual voices and subdued harmony backing, they could have sounded more contemporary and more in control of their projects. Had they chosen songs that had messages or conveyed relatable feelings and experiences, they could have touched hearts. They could have appealed to teen, college and young and not-so-young adults.
    No, the Supremes weren't old, but they were losing the hip crowd...fast. That was the problem. Carole King was hip with the music she was cutting. Aretha was hip with the stuff she was doing. The Supremes were releasing often marginally good singles at the time. The albums, IMO, were often better than the singles, but without interest in the singles, why would the public bother with the albums? The ladies needed something that would wow the public the way Tapestry and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" did. They didn't get it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    interesting points. while i've always liked NW and all, i will absolutely admit it boarders on over production. the sound effects, the massive orchestrations, the extended tracks that focus more on instrumentation versus vocals, the multi-layered vocals too. Still i like the overall effect

    also i remember fans sharing on here a discussion with Cindy and how she stated it was impossible for the live versions to ever fully live up to the amazing studio versions because of all of this. especially the layer vocals.

    I think the FJ album is a welcome change of pace from the heaviness of NW and Touch. again, i love those Frank Wilson albums but there is a LOT going on with them. FJ is much lighter and more focused on vocals and simpler instrumentation.

    And this also is why i think the JW set was such a disappointment. the initial idea is one i think could have had real promise and interest. but pretty much every aspect of the released album is a disappointment to me
    I agree about Floy Joy, but it still lacked a cut that blew folks away. Think about the hits of the Supremes in the 60s. That stuff jumped out at you. From the first listen, it was apparent that the girls probably had a big hit on their hands. Compare the Flo era hits to stuff like "In and Out of Love", "Forever Came Today", "Some Things You Never Get Used To". There's a clear departure in quality. Not that the songs were necessarily less than excellent, but they didn't have the instant hit feel. "Ladder" and "Stoned" had instant hit feel. After that, nothing, IMO, has that "it" factor. "Nathan" comes close. I think with a tweak or two it could've been even bigger than it was. The 70s Supremes lacked a "pow" musical moment after "Stoned".

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    Quote Originally Posted by SatansBlues View Post
    The New Supremes and Motown should have embraced disco more early on. Look at the Miracles's two biggest records post Smokey, Do It Baby went to #13 on the pop charts and #4 on the R&B Charts in '74 and '75. Eddie Kendricks's biggest song Keep On Truckin hit #1 on both the pop & R&B charts, the follow up single Boogie Down went to #2 on the pop charts and #1 on the R&B charts in '73. David Ruffin hit #9 pop and #1 R&B with Walk Away From Love in '75 . Dancing Machine hit #5 pop and #1 R&B in '74 for the Jackson 5 shortly before they left Motown.

    Motown had been known for putting out great dance records and they were successful. But somehow the Supremes missed the boat, songs like Touch, Bad Weather and I Guess I'll Miss The Man were never going to be hits, for anyone. He's My Man is a half-way descent dance record but I just don't see too many boys and men buying a record with that title or calling into radio stations to get it played. The groups chart showing suffered because the songs weren't special or memorable.

    The Supremes were simply traveling in the wrong lane musically after '72. I love Smokey and the FJ album is nice and all, but it's not groundbreaking or updated, not like the music being put out by Marvin and Stevie. And nothing on FJ sounds as fresh and current like Aretha Frankin's Rock Steady in 71 or Daydreaming in '72.
    I think part of the problem was that Motown's inhouse songwriters had gotten stale and as a result nearly all of their artists suffered, exceptions being Marvin and Stevie who were writing and producing their own material. Just my two cents.
    I can't exactly get behind this disco Supremes idea, but beyond that, I agree with this post 1000 percent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spreadinglove21 View Post

    Does anyone think the Supremes should have done a publicity stunt to garner attention to them as they were fading from the pop scene? What would have grabbed major attention in the 70s?
    What kind of publicity stunt?

    "SUPREMES KIDNAPPED BY THE SYMBIONESE LIBERATION ARMY-HELD HOSTAGE-GORDY REFUSES TO PAY"

    During that time I don't know what they could've possibly have come up with. The only options that spring to my mind is Diana rejoining the group for a one off single or album project, or Florence rejoining the group. Of course neither of those things was going to happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    I agree about Floy Joy, but it still lacked a cut that blew folks away. Think about the hits of the Supremes in the 60s. That stuff jumped out at you. From the first listen, it was apparent that the girls probably had a big hit on their hands. Compare the Flo era hits to stuff like "In and Out of Love", "Forever Came Today", "Some Things You Never Get Used To". There's a clear departure in quality. Not that the songs were necessarily less than excellent, but they didn't have the instant hit feel. "Ladder" and "Stoned" had instant hit feel. After that, nothing, IMO, has that "it" factor. "Nathan" comes close. I think with a tweak or two it could've been even bigger than it was. The 70s Supremes lacked a "pow" musical moment after "Stoned".
    i agree. Ladder and SL are unmistakably hits. no questioning those

    and i agree that NJ was supposed to be even bigger. somewhere, someone posted some sort of interview or discussion with Cindy and a question along the lines of "which record was most disappointing that it didn't do better" was asked. she responded with NJ. I'm guessing here but maybe that's why they just moved on from SL and didn't do more with NW. the early chart movement for NW was so poor. so maybe after the mega success of SL they just figured, let's move on to something even hotter

    so Frank develops this totally revolutionary synth-inspired track. it's a more hip lyric - jean ain't having nothing to do with this fool named Nathan. she's not mewing and pining after him like in Baby Love. she's telling him to take a hike.

    my problem with the song is, after the bridge, it doesn't go anywhere. they should have taken the track and the vocals to the stratosphere here. really go wild with the synth. have jean really start ad libbing. give the song the peak it needs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    What kind of publicity stunt?

    "SUPREMES KIDNAPPED BY THE SYMBIONESE LIBERATION ARMY-HELD HOSTAGE-GORDY REFUSES TO PAY"

    During that time I don't know what they could've possibly have come up with. The only options that spring to my mind is Diana rejoining the group for a one off single or album project, or Florence rejoining the group. Of course neither of those things was going to happen.
    although the timing of this is a bit late IMO, the girls' Central Park appearance could have been made into a huge deal.

    have them guest star on a tv show - All in the Family or mary Tyler Moore or That Girl

    have them guest host the Carol Burnett Show

    do the wig line in 1970 rather than 73. or some other product placement

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    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    i agree. Ladder and SL are unmistakably hits. no questioning those

    and i agree that NJ was supposed to be even bigger. somewhere, someone posted some sort of interview or discussion with Cindy and a question along the lines of "which record was most disappointing that it didn't do better" was asked. she responded with NJ. I'm guessing here but maybe that's why they just moved on from SL and didn't do more with NW. the early chart movement for NW was so poor. so maybe after the mega success of SL they just figured, let's move on to something even hotter

    so Frank develops this totally revolutionary synth-inspired track. it's a more hip lyric - jean ain't having nothing to do with this fool named Nathan. she's not mewing and pining after him like in Baby Love. she's telling him to take a hike.

    my problem with the song is, after the bridge, it doesn't go anywhere. they should have taken the track and the vocals to the stratosphere here. really go wild with the synth. have jean really start ad libbing. give the song the peak it needs.
    I appreciate that Nathan Jones could have been tweaked more, but I do like it as it is and think it could have/should have been a bigger hit. I think the general American audience had lost interest in the Supremes [[and even a solo Diana Ross) by this time in 1971. Carole King, Carpenters and Marvin Gaye were the ascendant stars.

    I think the Supremes should have kept the momentum from Stoned Love by releasing a second single from NWBLS or, better yet, Nathan Jones sooner rather than later. Pop music was moving rapidly forward in different directions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    although the timing of this is a bit late IMO, the girls' Central Park appearance could have been made into a huge deal.

    have them guest star on a tv show - All in the Family or mary Tyler Moore or That Girl

    have them guest host the Carol Burnett Show

    do the wig line in 1970 rather than 73. or some other product placement
    Again, I think the public was fast losing interest in the Supremes [[and the solo Diana Ross). Guest starring on MTM or All In The Family is an intriguing idea. Not so sure about Carol Burnett [[though I love her) or That Girl.

    The Supremes not only needed to update their sound but their style and image. Wigs and lashes were becoming increasingly outdated in 1971.

    I wish Diana Ross would have included The New Supremes on her first TV Special.
    Last edited by lucky2012; 08-06-2021 at 02:20 PM.

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