The Supremes [Bonus Disc]
The Supremes -- the most commercially successful female recording act, as well as the most successful African-American act of the 1960s -- launched a string of smash pop-soul singles that bridged racial and genre boundaries, and which are indelibly etched on Western popular culture. The queens of Motown receive the long-overdue box-set treatment with this smartly assembled, beautifully packaged four-CD, 88-track set, which features all of the group's hits along with a tantalizing (and historically fascinating) bounty of lesser-known and previously unreleased material. Coinciding with the group's 40th anniversary, The Supremes makes a strong case for the supple artistry of the Motown hit machine -- and for the effervescent vocal skills of lead diva Diana Ross and her cooing cohorts Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard (who was replaced by Cindy Birdsong in 1967). Listening to this epic package, one can't help but marvel at the enduring strengths of the trio's prodigious run of 23 Top 40 singles -- "Where Did Our Love Go," "Baby Love," "Stop! In the Name of Love," "Come See About Me," "Back in My Arms Again," "You Keep Me Hangin' On," "Come See About Me," "I Hear a Symphony," "My World Is Empty Without You," and "You Can't Hurry Love," to name just a few. There's also much pleasure to be drawn from the fine, if largely forgotten, hits that the trio released (with new lead singer Jean Terrell) following Ross's early-1970 departure. The set's lesser-known material is among its most fascinating, beginning with "Tears of Sorrow," the group's first-ever single (recorded when they were still known as the Primettes), and continuing with a fascinating assortment of alternate versions, demos, outtakes, and live performances. Also included is a lavish 76-page booklet filled with vintage photos, thoughtful liner notes by journalists David Nathan and Brian Chin, and a new interview with Motown mastermind Berry Gordy Jr. The Supremes is a must for fans of this mightiest of all girl groups. Early-bird consumers take note: The first 25,000 copies of the set contain a bonus fifth disc of vintage concert performances.