Friday, May 12, 2017
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: THE SUPREMES - A'GO-GO (Expanded Edition)
Motown albums in the 1960's weren't a priority for the label. It was all about the singles, and the albums were for a smaller, adult market. Not so with this one. The Supremes had already proved the exception to the rule, with Top 10 albums Where Did Our Love Go, More Hits By The Supremes and I Hear A Symphony. This one from 1966 did them all better, hitting number one, the first so-called girl group to ever take the top spot in the rock era.
It was a winning concept, no stuffy affair, but the trio having fun with some dancing songs, dressed in their casual clothes. This was for the teens for sure. Anchored by the hits You Can't Hurry Love and Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart, the 10 other cuts were a mix of Motown favourites and other fun hits. Who couldn't resist The Supremes versions of These Boots Are Made For Walking and Hang On Sloopy? Elsewhere, they take on their peers, doing justice to the hits of The Temptations (Get Ready), The Four Tops (Baby I Need Your Loving, I Can't Help Myself), and that Motown chestnut, Money (That's What I Want).
But like all Motown projects, it had a much more complicated back story. "Itching.." had been less than a smash, just barely in the Top 10, and that wasn't enough for Berry Gordy's golden girls. He put the word out that he would only accept a #1 from the next single, so producers Holland-Dozier-Holland got busy, indeed hitting the top with You Can't Hurry Love. But in the meantime a bunch of different sessions and concepts were worked on, different album ideas started, and eventually a great of tracks were in the can.
This double-CD collection features a whopping 29 bonus tracks, as well as stereo and mono versions of the original album. They are all associated with the era, and some were used on later collections, but what are found here in that case are alternate takes or mixes. There's Supremes' versions of It's Not Unusual, Satisfaction, and Blowin' In The Wind. There are more forays in the Motown hit parade, with their takes on Heat Wave, Can I Get A Witness and What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted. And to show how much work went into crafting a single, there are early versions of Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart as well as a new mix for this collection.
All this is explained with detailed notes in not one, but two booklets that accompany the set. Previous similar expanded editions of Supremes albums have sold out to rabid collectors, and now command extreme prices, so if you're itching for some more Motown during arguably the label's pinnacle year of 1966, grab it fast.