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In 1959 Diana Ross And The Supremes and The Temptations each began singing together on street corners around the ghetto areas for blacks in Detroit. The Temptations called themselves The Primes and The Supremes were their "sister" group, The Primettes. They signed to the local Lu Pine Records in 1959 but the label folded and soon after each group signed to Motown records and each took seperate paths. However in 1968 the two super groups were reunited for a series of spectacular television specials and a host of both studio and live albums together.
Their first studio album, Diana Ross And The Supremes Join The Temptations (1968) was, perharps, their most significant outing together. The albums debut release was origanally intended to be the electric, Try It Baby. The startling mixture of Soul and Jazz encapsulated a late night blues club feel to it and featured a stunning performance from Diana Ross and Dennis Edwards. There was also an effective interlude from the deep, husky voiced Melvyrn Franklin at the opening of the track. However plans for a release as a single were soon after cancelled.
Their first single together was the exciting and totally magnificent, I'm Gonna Make You Love Me. Their is a wide range of diverse harmonies on this recording from the lush harmonies of Diana Ross to the sweet falsetto of Eddie Kendricks and effective backing support from the rest of the two groups. I'm Gonna Make You Love Me was easily their biggest success together where it quickly raced into the Top 3 Singles charts on both sides of the Atlantic.
Their fun, upbeat version of Smokey Robinson And The Miracles, I Second That Emotion was another recognised success in the U.K where it was lifted as a single and peaked at No.18 on the singles charts. However in the U.S. the glorious ballad, I'll Try Something New was lifted as a single instead and jumped into the Top 50. Again the blend of harmonies were alternated between Diana Ross and Eddie Kendricks.
The rest of the album was crammed with potential chart hits. Their is an engaging re-working of Marvin Gayes and Tammi Terrells, Ain't No Mountain High Enough. It's interesting to hear Diana Ross sing this version against a completley different musical arrangement in contrast to the more famous version she took to the top of the U.S charts in 1970 as a solo artist. Diana's smooth, soulful vocals combine well with Dennis Edwards more aggressive and forceful delivery.
This Guy's In Love With You has been frequently covered by a wide range of artists but Diana Ross and the Supremes and The Temptations make this version their own. The performances all-round are exuberant and deliciously delivered with a distinct air of sizzling sexual chemistry between Diana Ross and Melvyrn Franklin. They also do an exciting take on Funky Broadway where the combination of Dennis Edwards and Diana Ross is once again breathtaking and remarkably effective.
They each carry their version of the golden Stevie Wonder classic, A Place In The Sun with such style and finesse and make the song defintivley their own whilst encapsulating more of that familiar and distinct Motown sound is on their version of Sweet Inspiration which places no great threat to the origanal and lacks the dynamic force of the initial origanal but still is overly enduring whilst Diana Ross once again shows off her effortless flair for ballads on the sensational, Then.
The album is then led to it's final which is a startling and surprisingly effective re-working of Elvis Presley's The Impossible Dream. Beginning with a soft, sensual interlude from Diana Ross the rhythm builds to an exalting climax with both Diana and Dennid Edwards sounding utterly fantastic with their shimmering harmonies blending together beautifully.
Diana Ross And The Supremes Join The Temptations was a huge seller and was greeted with a warm and positive reception from critics. The album topped the U.K album charts whilst narrowly being beaten to the top spot in the U.S where it hit No.2. A cracking classic!
Together (1969) is a little different to the first set steering into a more raw and earthy soul sound in contrast to the more sensual first set. Together doesn't quite have the immediacy of the previous album but still carries some engaging recordings. Only trouble is it lacks origanal material which was the case with most studio albums by other Motown artists in the 1960's.
Together opens with a striking version of Marvin Gaye's Stubborn Kind Of Fellow where Diana neatly surfboards along the gloriously assembled musical arrangements whilst David Ruffin again shows off his truly dynamic and rocketing vocal power. More mellow in it's tone is another cover of a Marvin Gaye classic, I'll Be Doggone where the vocal performances all-round are more subtle and laid back.
One of the ultimate highlights of the album is the sensational, The Weight where Diana Ross in particular conveys such passion and showcases her undoubted versatility. The compelling mixture of raw, earthy and gritty soul intertwined with a Country vibe makes for a startling combination. The Weight was lifted as a single in the U.S where it merley dented the Top 50 though deserved a much higher chart position.
Their version of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrells, Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing surprisingly surpasses the quality of the origanal and had it not already been made famous by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, would have made an ideal choice for a release as a single.
Apart from the hideously out-of-tune guirtar riffage at the opening of their version of Stevie Wonders, Uptight (Everythings Alright) the song does lead into a compelling and funky little affair but falling more on the bland side was their odd, disjointed version of Mary Well's My Guy and an updating of My Girl which is combined into an uneffective medley. To be fair, Diana Ross truly ignites My Guy but The Temptations My Girl on this album pales in comparison to the magnificent origanal.
Another highlight of the album is an exciting re-working of Sing A Simple Song where each groups harmonies blend fabulously well together and makes for a rocketing combination across the raw musical arrangements which contains vast undertones of red hot and compelling funk.
Returning more to that familiar Motown sound was on an enjoyable version of For Better Or Worse where the emphasis is solely on Diana Ross' voice which she carries off beautifully where as Mary Wilson takes spotlight on a bland reading of Can't Take My Eyes Off You. Mary Wilson recorded the track as a solo and then the rest of the groups harmonies were added across the multi layered musical arrangements. If anything it's quite surprising that Mary Wilson was actually granted a solo spot considering that Berry Gordy hammered across to the public that Diana Ross was the star of the group. Mary Wilson does have something of a somewhat soft, pleasant-sounding soprano but it's clear why Diana Ross became the lead singer of The Supremes as she easily had the most diverse and distinct vocal style that really was in a class of it's own.
The album is then led to it's grand final with a stirring, soulful ballad, Why (Must We Fall In Love) which contains rocketing vocals from each singer involved though is mainly alternated between Diana Ross and Eddie Kendricks. Dramatic in it's content and exalting and compelling musically, Why (Must We Fall In Love) had monster classic written all over it but was only released as a single in the U.K in early 1970 to fill in time before Diana Ross made her grand solo debut and therefore was only a lukewarm seller, stalling within the Top 40 charts. Still, it ends the album on a triumphant note and is the ultimate highlight of the Together set.
Together didn't match the commercial or critical success of Diana Ross And The Supremes Join The Temptations but is still worthwhile with some fantastic tracks included!
1. Try It Baby
2. I Second That Emotion
3. Ain't No Mountain High Enough
4. I'm Gonna Make You Love Me
5. This Guy's In Love With You
6. Funky Broadway
7. I'll Try Something New
8. Place In The Sun
9. Sweet Inspiration
11. To Dream The Impossible Dream
12. Stubborn Kind Of Fellow
13. I'll Be Doggone
15. Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing
16. Uptight (Everything's Alright)
17. Sing A Simple Song
18. My Guy My Girl
19. For Better Or Worse
20. Can't Take My Eyes Off You
21. Why (Must We Fall In Love)