ALBUM OF THE MONTH
FIVE REASONS TO LISTEN:
- The Supremes’ fourth and fifth No. 1 singles, “Stop! In The Name Of Love” and “Back In My Arms Again.”
- Their second Top 10 triumph on the Billboard pop album charts.
- All 12 tracks written by Motown’s multi-platinum creative trio, Holland/Dozier/Holland.
- The Supremes’ almost-single, “Mother Dear.”
- Original versions of songs later recorded by Nicolette Larson, Billy Preston, the Jam, Michael Bolton, the Hollies, Gloria Gaynor and the Glee cast.
FOUR FAST FACTS:
- Original release date: July 23, 1965.
- Reached No. 2 on the Billboard R&B charts.
- Second of five Supremes albums issued in 1965 by Motown.
- Two-CD expanded edition released in 2011.
FULL TRACK LISTING:
- More Hits By The Supremes has many virtues, but two stand out: the increasingly distinctive, confident sound of the trio, one year after the release of their first chart-topper, and the remarkable creativity of the other trio involved in its making, Holland/Dozier/Holland. Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard were now bona fide superstars as this, their fifth album, was released on July 23, 1965. They had become the first recording act in history to achieve five No. 1 singles within twelve months, and these young women were now as individually identifiable by music fans worldwide as the four members of the Beatles, whose “Eight Days A Week” was knocked off the chart summit by “Stop! In The Name Of Love” that March.
- Meanwhile, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Edward Holland Jr. were fast becoming recognized as the most exciting new team of backroom boys in popular music, not only for writing and producing those five No. 1 records for the Supremes, but also for creating Top 10 pop hits for the Four Tops, Martha & the Vandellas and Marvin Gaye during the first half of ’65. Adding to the H/D/H luster was the fact that the Tops’ “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” directly followed the Supremes’ “Back In My Arms Again” at the peak of the Billboard Hot 100 in June.
- More Hits By The Supremes was the first Motown long-player entirely comprised of songs written by Holland/Dozier/Holland. Not that they, or the record company, created albums as such. The H/D/H modus operandi was to write and produce individual recordings for each act, whether group or soloist, leaving Motown to decide which tracks were best suited for single release, and which for inclusion in albums. Since the company’s studio – and house band – was on tap at almost any time of the day or night, its songwriters, producers and artists were prolific in their output.
- The Supremes recorded their vocals for most of this album between January and June of 1965; some of the instrumental tracks were cut the previous year. A handful of songs were originally intended for other artists, and in a couple of cases (“Whisper You Love Me Boy,” “He Holds His Own”) were previously recorded. The Holland brothers and Lamont Dozier wrote the melodies and lyrics – who did what varied from song to song – while Brian and Lamont produced the records. Brian also did most of the final mixing, a talent he had developed with an earlier Motown colleague, Robert Bateman. Occasionally, Motown chieftain Berry Gordy stepped in: for instance, he mixed both the promotional and commercially-released single versions of “Stop! In The Name Of Love.”
- Diana, Flo and Mary laid down their arresting parts for “Stop! In The Name Of Love” early in January ’65. Featuring a lyric inspired by an argument – Lamont Dozier later claimed it was with his girlfriend – the single came out on February 8 and reached the top of the charts in March. The Supremes promoted it on such TV shows as The Hollywood Palace and Shivaree, showing off the now-celebrated hand signals. “This number featured what is probably our most famous piece of choreography,” Mary Wilson wrote in her autobiography, My Life as a Supreme, and confirmed that the Temptations worked with the group in perfecting the routine. In an interview for The Motown Story: The First Decade, Diana Ross said specifically that the idea of the hand gesture came from the Temptations’ Melvin Franklin.
- The Supremes’ own seductive “Whisper You Love Me Boy” was selected as the flipside of “Back In My Arms Again,” and became one of their most popular performances. When Motown assembled the trio’s Greatest Hits double-album in 1967, it was among the few non-A-sides to be included. Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier later recorded the song with Chris Clark, which was included on her debut Motown album, Soul Sounds.
- “Ask Any Girl,” the opening track of More Hits By The Supremes, had actually appeared on disc twice before, first on their Where Did Our Love Go album in August 1964, then as the B side of “Baby Love” in September. The following year, its lyric was re-gendered as “Ask Any Man” and the result recorded for Motown by cabaret crooner Tony Martin in California. The song gained further attention when Motown’s publishing division, Jobete Music, sued the writers of Len Barry’s “1-2-3” hit for copyright infringement, successfully. As a result, H/D/H are listed as co-writers of “1-2-3” to this day.
- “Mother Dear” holds a special place in Supremes history, because it was almost the follow-up to “Back In Your Arms Again.” This hook-laden number was one of the last pieces of work on More Hits By The Supremes to be recorded: the instrumental track on June 2, the group’s vocals on June 21. It was even assigned a single release number, Motown 1080. In the event, Berry Gordy (or perhaps the collective vote of a Quality Control meeting) decided upon the previously-made “Nothing But Heartaches.” That was issued as Motown 1080 on July 16 – and fell short of the Billboard Top 10 by one place in early September.
- Later, Lamont Dozier spoke about that relative failure to music writer Brian Chin. “We did wonder why it didn’t go. Motown had one of the strongest promotion teams, so we knew it wasn’t their fault. It had to be in the music, or the times, and…we just went back to the drawing board.” Another theory is advanced by Andy Skurow, co-producer of the 2011 “expanded edition” of More Hits By The Supremes: that the ten 45s above “Nothing But Heartaches” when it stalled at No. 11 were impossibly strong. Among them: the Beatles’ “Help,” Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone,” the Beach Boys’ “California Girls,” Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe,” James Brown’s “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” – and the Four Tops’ “It’s The Same Old Song.” Skurow adds, “Had Motown released the song a month before or a month after, it might have fared better.”
- “The Only Time I’m Happy” was sequenced as the eighth track on More Hits By The Supremes, but also used as one side of a promotional giveaway single, shortly before the album’s release. It appeared on the George Alexander label, with a Motown release number (1079). The other side of the seven-inch vinyl was a short audio interview with Diana, Mary and Florence, handling questions about their beginnings, ambitions, travel and favorite singers. The interview was produced by Booker Bradshaw, a Motown employee who also a folk singer.
- In 1965, MGM Records issued Those Fantabulous Strings Play The Supremes Hits on its budget label, Metro. Five songs from More Hits By The Supremes were given the orchestral treatment on the ten-track album, although the musicians’ identities (moonlighting players from the Detroit Symphony, perhaps?) were not revealed on the cover artwork. The producer and recording engineer were named: Sonny Lester and Val Valentin, respectively. Both had substantial credentials in jazz, and Valentin also was engineer for sessions by the Mothers of Invention, Velvet Underground and Roy Orbison. MGM even issued a single of the Fantabulous Strings’ rendering of “Stop! In The Name Of Love.”
- The Holland/Dozier/Holland catalog of songs has attracted hundreds of interpretations over the past 50 years, with “Stop! In The Name Of Love” among the most-covered. The Isley Brothers and Kim Weston cut it while at Motown, with Weston notable for her torch-song treatment under the supervision of Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier. Stax/Volt songstress Margie Joseph enjoyed a minor R&B and pop hit with the tune in 1971, a recording which was later sampled by hip-hop stars such as Jadakiss, Raekwon and Lil Wayne. In the 21st century, “Stop!” has been performed by the cast of comedy/drama TV series Glee, and the Australian pop-cabaret group, Human Nature.
- More Hits By The Supremes became one of the group’s six Top 10 albums on the Billboard pop rankings, peaking at No. 6 in October ’65 and enjoying a 37-week chart run. It was initially released as a vinyl LP in mono and stereo, and subsequently on tape (cassette and 8-track cartridge) and compact disc, including a CD coupling with The Supremes Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland. In 2011, there was the Motown/Hip-O Select two-CD expanded edition. This featured the mono and stereo recordings of the original LP, and other Supremes material from 1964-65, including previously-unissued alternate vocal takes, live versions of some songs, and Coca-Cola commercials. Today, all the recordings on that expanded edition are available on digital streaming services.
“There weren’t any monitors and there was no video then, so you couldn’t practice your act, watch your performance, see what needed changing, and then go back and do it again. There were no mirrors or reflections to study. In those days, most of it, like The Ed Sullivan Show, was live. Our career was hands-on. Our education came from traveling, and our experience came from doing.” – Diana Ross, writing in secrets of a sparrow, her autobiography.
VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE TRACK ON THE ALBUM:
Producers: Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland.
Songwriters: Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Edward Holland Jr.
Pre-makes: “He Holds His Own” and “Whisper You Love Me Boy” (Mary Wells, 1964).
Re-makes: “Ask Any Girl” (Tony Martin, 1965; Chris Clark, 1967), “Back In My Arms Again” (The Jam, 1977; Genya Ravan, 1978; Nicolette Larson, 1979; Michael Bolton, 1983; High Inergy, 1983), “Nothing But Heartaches” (Deborah Washington, 1983), “Stop! In The Name Of Love” (Kim Weston, 1965; Johnny Rivers, 1965; the Isley Brothers, 1966; the Supremes & the Temptations, 1968; Claude Francois, 1971; Margie Joseph, 1971; Donnie Elbert, 1972; Gloria Gaynor, 1982; the Hollies, 1983; LaToya Jackson, 1995; Human Nature, 2005; Glee cast, 2010), “Whisper You Love Me Boy” (Chris Clark, 1967).