THE SUPREMES: Meet The Supremes (Hip-O Select/Motown)

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‘Meet The Supremes’ – the girls’ debut LP – is the latest Motown archive album to get the full Hip-O Select treatment. As ever, along with the original album there’s all kinds of extras including four live cuts from 1962, seven live ones from 1964 and a big, big 16 tracks recorded during the same period that ‘Meet The Supremes’ was being assembled; all of them have never been released before. Add to that a sumptuous fold out digi-pack, extended liner notes, wonderful archive photos and a Mary Wilson-led interview with the “fourth” Supreme, Barbara Martin and you have an unmissable collection – for all soul fans. For Supremes/Diana Ross fans though it’s much more than unmissable – it’s totally essential! Apart from the obvious reasons, there are all kinds of those oddities that keep the collectors and anoraks happy for hours. First up, there’s the inclusion of ‘Buttered Popcorn’ – the only Supremes’ single to feature Florence Ballard on lead; then there’s ‘Time Changes Things’ – the first time the girls worked with Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier; more – well ‘Baby Don’t Go’ is one of the few Supremes’ tracks to have Mary Wilson on lead while on seven of the original album cuts the Supremes were actually a four piece… the aforementioned Barbara Martin quitting for domestic reasons during the recording. Musically, the sound is vintage early Motown – a far cry from the later more polished material that fed the ladies with their hits. From my soul fan perspective that’s no bad thing. There’s a huge charm and naivety about stuff like ‘Your Heart Belongs To Me’ and listening now (an incredible 48 years later!) it makes you realize (again!) why Motown was so damn attractive, different and appealing. Like I said – unmissable and/or essential.

(BB) 5/5