Diana Ross and the Supremes
Motown / UMG
Dear Motown and/or your corporate masters at Universal: Please quit re-issuing this album already! This is the fourth time, and it’s just getting a little sick and sad. I mean, yeah, you have to keep The Supremes on the racks at the store — but this is getting ridiculous. I mean, you didn’t even change the cover photo from the 1995 version — you just flipped the negative and printed it backwards. That’s cheesy.
I’m not going to slag on the 2001 issue of Anthology too much, because, y’know, it’s The Supremes. Every responsible person has to have a Supremes greatest hits CD in his or her collection, and this one will do for the hits, just about all of which are here on the two discs: “Where Did Our Love Go,” “Baby Love,” “I Hear a Symphony,” “Someday We’ll Be Together,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” they’re all here, a string of great singles the likes of which few studios have ever put together. There are a lot of non-hits featured here too, early attempts like “I Want a Guy” and “The Tears,” as well as later songs that should have been hits (“Sweet Thing”) and others that just weren’t good enough (“Mother Dear”). So yeah, everyone, if you see this and you have no other Supremes in your collection, pick it up.
But there are weird missteps here too. The second half of Disc Two focuses on the way The Supremes covered others’ songs, from Sam Cooke to “Whistle While You Work” — but these are all lumped in here, so they’re out of the chronological order that informs the first disc and a half. That’s messed up. And come on, why did you go with the banal Brian Chin to write those liner notes? He takes easy shots at Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera — on a Supremes record. He talks about his favorite scene in More American Graffiti. He trots out long-retired phrases like “Yet stardom took its toll.” Come on, Motown, you can do better than that.
So, sad to say it, a mixed review for a re-re-re-issue of the best songs from a group that may have been more important than The Beatles. Next time, Motown, call me first. I have some ideas about how to do Anthology: 2005.
Motown Records: http://www.motown.com