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The Supremes - In Japan! (Live)

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Album Review

After Florence Ballard, Diana Ross and then Cindy Birdsong left the Supremes, the sole original member of the group was Mary Wilson. In Japan (1973) features Ross' replacement Jean Terrell — sister of boxer Ernie Terrell — alongside Wilson and the most recent addition Lynda Laurence, who took over when Birdsong flew the coop the previous year. The 'new' Supremes lineup didn't last very long as Terrell and Laurence split — replaced by Scherrie Payne and the return of Birdsong several months later. Although unable to unleash the same torrent of hits as the earlier incarnations had done, the Supremes ably re-create some of the sweetest sounds to have emanated from within the Motown family. Their stage show remained polished, including not only soul classics, but familiar popular standards as well. While on tour supporting The Supremes Arranged and Produced by Jimmy Webb (1972), there are no representatives from that platter. The ladies do offer up a "New Hit Medley" with "Automatically Sunshine," "Floy Joy," "Nathan Jones" and "Up the Ladder to the Roof"." Of course there is an oldies congregate linking up "Reflections," "Where Did Our Love Go," "Baby Love" and "My World Is Empty Without You," not to mention the opening pairing of "T.C.B" and "Stop! In the Name of Love." Other worthwhile inclusions are the Stevie Wonder penned "Bad Weather," the light and breezy "Stoned Love" and Mary Wilson's intimate and affective interpretation of "I Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" joining a suitably samba-like "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars." In 2004, Hip-O Select issued the Supremes In Japan on CD in a limited edition of 5,000 copies. Notably, the disc contains the sole concert recording by this trio.

Customer Reviews

Supremely Obscure

Perhaps the rarest of all "released" Supremes albums, this one initially was released on vinyl in Japan. About 3 years ago, it became available on CD at hip-o-select; and now, here it is on iTunes - the only live Supremes album that doesn't feature Diana Ross. Instead, it's her replacement, the jazzier Jean Terrell, along with former Stevie Wonder backup singer and currently "FLOS" Lynda Laurence, and last of the originals member Mary Wilson. Vocally, this is a tighter ensemble than DRatS, but also less dynamic. Wilson & Laurence's vocal too often are little more than whispers, although Mary's lead on the Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You/Quiet Nights medley is a nice treat. It's also nice to hear Jean's lead on songs formerly helmed by Diana. I hate to say this one's for Supremes purists only, because it's an interesting look at a group that was worth more attention than it received in the 70's. This one, along with the "Jean Terrell Years" set would make for a great look at what might be considered forerunners to the "quiet storm" period that would come about a decade later.

Slight correction to the Album Review

The set list on this CD does include one non-single track from the "Produced and Arranged by Jimmy Webb" album = "Tossin' and Turnin'". I bought this album on vinyl years ago, and it's good to have it on CD. I confess that although I'm a great fan of the Jean Terrell era Supremes, I find Jean's performances here sub-par. Particularly on the opening medley her rhythm is totally off - she misses notes and gets the melodies wrong. It almost sounds like she's just going through the motions - which may have been the case, because this concert was recorded after Bad Weather was released (and flopped). At this point Jean was very unhappy and about to leave the group.

Biography

Formed: 1961 in Detroit, MI

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s

The most successful American performers of the 1960s, the Supremes for a time rivaled even the Beatles in terms of red-hot commercial appeal, reeling off five number one singles in a row at one point. Critical revisionism has tended to undervalue the Supremes' accomplishments, categorizing their work as more lightweight than the best soul stars (or even the best Motown stars), and viewing them as a tool for Berry Gordy's crossover aspirations. There's no question that there was about as much pop...
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