DIANA ROSS AND THE SUPREMES; 50th Anniversary – the Singles Collection (Motown/Hip-O Select)

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In a long and hugely successful career there have been dozens of Supremes’ hits collections, but this new, 3CD 82 track compilation is the first that can properly be called definitive. Released to mark the group’s 50th anniversary and a companion to the recent Temptations’ collection, the beautifully packaged set contains every single (A and B side) that the girls released between 1961 – 1969.

Of course it’s stuffed with hits but interestingly those hits don’t start till well into disc 1. Their first “proper” hit, ‘When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes’, is track 15. The music that comes before is all vintage Motown, of course, but things like ‘Let Me Go The Right Way’ and ‘My Heart Can’t Take It No More’ meant little or nothing chart wise…. no wonder in the corridors of Hitsville the girls were dubbed “the no-hit Supremes”. ‘Lovelight’ changed all that of course. It peaked at #23 pop and #2 R&B, but more importantly it was the first time that the full Holland-Dozier- Holland team had been assigned to the group… and the rest is history. All those great H-D-H efforts still sound fresh and vital and B sides like ‘He Holds His Own’ and ‘Whisper You Love Me Boy’ are every bit as essential.

Because the collection is truly “complete”, you also get plenty of rarities – including the collectable ‘Buttered Popcorn’ (a rare Florence Ballard lead), alternative pressings, promotional releases, a group interview and a sprinkling of foreign language recordings. They include a German language version of ‘Come See About Me’ which is oddly renamed ‘Jonny Und Joe’.

The set chronicles a remarkable journey – from the rough hewn ‘I Want A Boy’ to the sophisticated schmaltz of ‘Someday We’ll Be Together’… it’s all here’s … and a must not just for fans of the Supremes but for all Motown collectors.

(BB) 5/5