Joined Together: The Complete Studio Duets
Diana Ross, The Supremes & The Temptations
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The two albums the Supremes and the Temptations did together in the late '60s might have been fun to do, and sometimes fun to hear, but certainly weren't highlights in the career of either group. If you're going to hear them at all, however, you should do so in the context of this two-CD set, which leaves no stone unturned in its presentation of not just the original albums (1968's Diana Ross & the Supremes Join the Temptations and 1969's Together), but also a bunch of previously unreleased tracks and alternate mixes. The albums themselves were uneven, relying too heavily on so-so covers of hits by other artists, remakes of some old Motown smashes, and the odd inappropriate MOR hit and popular standard, though the number two hit "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" (from the first of the LPs) was a highlight. Particularly on Together, there were also some odd trendy production flourishes, like the electric sitar in "The Weight," the freak-out fuzz guitar and quasi-Eastern psychedelic effects that open "Uptight (Everything's Alright)," and the funk-rock cover of Sly Stone's "Sing a Simple Song."
As for the bonuses on this CD, all of the previously unreleased tracks come from the sessions for Diana Ross & the Supremes Join the Temptations, and in both the good and bad senses are characteristic of the songs chosen for the released album. They muster fair covers of the Beatles' "Got to Get You into My Life" and the Impressions' "Amen," and do a strange medley of "You Can't Hurry Love/You Keep Me Hangin' On" with some fierce psychedelic-tinged rock guitar on the fadeout. On the other hand, it was a wise decision to excise the too show bizzy medley of Supremes hits, and not such a wise decision to make it the opening cut on this CD compilation. The nine alternate mixes, in the way these things usually turn out, aren't compulsory listening for anyone but fanatics, though there are a few notable differences: "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" has a spoken introduction by producer Frank Wilson, and "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" has Mary Wilson handling all the solo vocals. Note that these aren't the only extras on this set: it also offers previously unavailable extended versions of "I Second That Emotion" and "Then" (from Diana Ross & the Supremes Join the Temptations) and "Why (Must We Fall in Love)" (from Together). Finally, to close things out there's a previously unreleased extended alternate mix of "Not Now, I'll Tell You Later," a 1963 Temptations recording with background vocals by the Supremes.
I purchased several songs off this CD,and they were awsome. Remakes of Marvin & Tammy's "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" & "Ain't no Mountain High Enough" Dennis Edwards & Diana Ross blend in a way to create a sound just as good if not better than Marvin & Tammy. I liked it right away. The tune "Funky Broadway", is just that "Funky" it makes you want to get up and dance. Once again Edwards does an outstanding job. There are some truly great songs on this CD.
Diana Ross Aretha Franklin The Temptations and all the other old school artists is what you should be listening to if you wont to hear real soul because they put soul in their work and that is hard to come by today.
Hats Off to a Great Concept
In 1968, Berry Gordy decided to build what is possibly the first R&B/Pop Super Group when he joined Diana Ross and The Supremes with their male counterparts, The Temptations. The idea was actually not that farfetched since the two groups had originally begun as companion acts, The Primes (aka The Temptations) and their sister act, The Primettes (aka The Supremes). They had never recorded together before however. They had both racked up a staggering amount of #1 records on both the pop and R&B chart. To put the concept to a litmus test, Berry scheduled them to appear on the Ed Sullivan show singing each other's hits in a mega medley. The television appearance was a rousing success sparking a grand marketing idea. They would record a pair of albums and also star in two of their own television specials. Once again, the concept was a winning one indeed. The television specials would garner top ratings with the first, "T.C.B." becoming the first black entertainment special to hit the top of the Neilsen ratings. The adjacent soundtrack would soar to the top of the Billboard pop and R&B album chart. The pairing would give Diana Ross and The Supremes a boost of credibility with their black audience since they had ventured into other genres including the British Invasion, Broadway and even Country & Western. The Temptations were already certifiably "The Black Beatles", racking up chart topping hits on the R&B chart with nearly every single release. "T.C.B." would continue to expose The Temps to a wider, mainstream audience, an experiment that had begun with their own album of pop standards and a successful run at The Copa, the preeminent crossover venue of its time. The Supremes had already effortlessly conquered that side of their audience.
At the centerpiece of their union was the #1 single, "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" (one of Motown's first and rare, but, successful inclusion of the growing Philadelphia sound). Both groups and the label was so hot at the time that this great hit record is almost an afterthought in their repertoire. (Imagine having so many hits that another #1 is rigor du jour). The first two albums, "Join the Temptations" and "T.C.B." would be charttoppers. Musically, both groups stretched their boundaries and seem to have a great time with ad libs and vocal exchanges. Gems on the studio album include the 2nd single, a sublime cover of Smokey Robinson and The Miracles' "I'll Try Something New". Diana and Eddie Kendricks play off each so perfectly one could swear that they were indeed deeply in love. Their duets would be as iconic as the ones between Marvin and Tammi.
The masterminds at the catalog division of Motown/Universal has grouped the two studio albums together to make one, a tad expensive, but great Motown album. Berry known for crafting most albums from the gianormous Jobete copyrights, included non-Motown covers like "Sweet Inspirations", "Funky Broadway", "Then" along with a bravura performance of "The Impossible Dream" (both live for "T.C.B." and as a studio version on "Join The Temptations").
The follow-up to their initial pairings, "Together" and the soundtrack, "G.I.T." weren't as groundbreaking as their predecessor.....but still an important contribution to both groups remarkable discography. That makes "Joined Together: The Complete Duets" a necessary addition to any music lovers collection. Missing is the great David Ruffin. David's insistence on being deemed the leader of a multi-lead quintet would not sit well with the group nor Berry. As great as David was, he did not have the star power that Diana or Smokey or Martha Reeves had to distinguish themselves in their respective groups. The upside is Eddie Kendricks gets to shine even more, so does Paul Williams and Dennis Edwards practically erases any loss from Mr. Ruffin's absence.
This would also be a huge showcase to display Diana's multitude of talents....and unfortunately, Cindy and Mary's role isn't as inclusive as Paul's or Eddie's or Dennis' were for The Temptations. Some will argue it was at the expense of Cindy and Mary. Yet the public had already voiced their desire in wanting more of one Miss Diana Ross. And she did not fail to deliver. Her performance on "T.C.B." was worthy of recognition from the Emmy voting body in Hollywood.....offers for solo appearances would have the phones ringing off the hook at Motown's corporate offices. Her Leading Lady solo turn would have Hollywood calling her "Supreme". Eddie Kendricks would go on to have a solid solo career. Paul Williams would be captured in a haunting, emotional triumphant performance of "For Once in My Life" on "T.C.B.". He would stop the show....it would time for a commercial break. Bob Mackie would forge a long standing relationship with grand gowns and iconic costuming of Diana and The Supremes. Berry could now proudly celebrate the expansion and growth of Motown Records into the formidable, Motown Industries......Paul and Diana would duet on a beautiful rendition of Herb Alpert, Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "This Guys in Love With You". In that time capsule, it seems the whole world had fallen in love with the Motown Sound!
Born: March 26, 1944 in Detroit, MI
Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s
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