Wednesday, 20 August 2014

"This Is The Story: The 70's Albums Vol.1, 1970-1973 - The Jean Terrell Years" by THE SUPREMES - A Review Of The 2006 Hip-O Select 3CD Book Set...




This review is part of my "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters Soul, Funk & Jazz Fusion" Download Book available to buy on Amazon to either your PC or Mac (it will download the Kindle software to read the book for free to your toolbar). Click on the link below to go my Author's Page for this and other related publications:

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“…Can’t Make It On My Own…” - This Is The Story: The 70's Albums Vol.1, 1970-1973 - The Jean Terrell Years by THE SUPREMES (2006 Hip-O Select 3CD Book Set)

The full title of this beautifully presented set is - "This Is The Story: The 70's Albums Vol.1, 1970-1973 - The Jean Terrell Years”. It's a limited edition of 5000 and was issued in December 2006 by Universal's premium label in the States - Hip-O Select (Jean Terrell replaced Diana Ross as the new lead after Ross left for her solo career).

It gives you 5 full albums with previously unreleased material and rare sides across 3 picture-disc CDs each of which is in a card leaf at the back of the set. The 44-page booklet that precedes the discs pictures each LP (front and rear), gives detailed track-by-track information, provides liner notes on each release and has interview contributions from all concerned. The whole thing is housed in an over-sized hardback silver book sleeve with three die-cut circles at the front to show the three Supremes of the period underneath - Jean Terrell, Mary Wilson and Cindy Songbird. The words "limited edition' are embossed in gold on the back. As you can imagine, the artwork in itself is a thing of beauty and gives the whole project an air of real class. Here are the song details…

Disc 1 (77:31 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 12 are the US album "Right On", April 1970, Motown MS-705
Tracks 13 to 22 are the US album "New Ways But Love Stays", October 1970, Motown MS-720

Disc 2 (79:54 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 10 are the US album "Touch", June 1971, Motown MS-737
Tracks 11 to 23 are The "Promises Kept" Sessions, 1971.
11 to 23 are previously unreleased and were recorded for an LP release in late 1971 that never materialized
Track 24 is from the Various Artists US album called "Rock Gospel: The Key To The Kingdom", October 1971, Motown M-743L

Disc 3 (75:45 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 9 are the US album "Floy Joy", May 1972, Motown M-751L
Tracks 10 to 20 are the US album "The Supremes Produced & Arranged By Jimmy Webb", November 1972, Motown M-756L
Tracks 21 and 22 are from the US album "At Their Best", June 1978, Motown 904

ELLEN FITTON digitally remastered all tracks from the original Motown master tapes at Universal Studios in the USA and a typically stunning job has been achieved. Hip-O Select releases are consistently praised for their great sound and this peach does not disappoint.

With 68 songs on offer - the material itself is a mixed bag of the great and the ordinary. In truth, I can remember when Motown collectors tended to poo-poo this period of The Supremes story as weak and half-hearted. But that definitely needs re-assessment on the strength of this set. It's fantastic to hear "Stoned Love" and "Nathan Jones" in top sound quality at last. And the whole Smokey Robinson written/produced album "Floy Joy" can be described as a lost Motown masterpiece ignored by way too many soul fans. Their August 1972 chart hit "Your Wonderful Sweet Sweet Love" could easily grace any Northern Soul compilation and take pride of place too. Then there's the fabulous collaboration album with the "Wichita Lineman" author JIMMY WEBB - lush melodies and strings abound - and again - another forgotten sweetheart that deserves rediscovery. "5:30 Plane" for instance - from that album - is a gorgeous song presented here in truly beautiful sound quality - an undiscovered classic if there ever was one (lyrics above). It will appeal to Bacharach fans, Webb lovers and soul boys alike - a rare achievement to nail all three audiences. The anti-racism tune "When Can Brown Begin" could be cheesy, but it's not - it's beautifully handled.

Deemed not fit for release at the time, the quality of the unreleased "Promises Kept" tracks vary. I don't know whether to consider the funked-up version of "Eleanor Rigby" inspired - or a travesty - probably a bit of both! But that's then followed shortly afterwards by "Can't Get You Out Of My Mind" - a superb little number with a genuinely uplifting vibe to it.  And the cover of the Four Tops "Still Water (Love)" is lovely too - it's peppered with lovely brass breaks and lush string arrangements and a superbly soulful lead vocal too - just great.

Five star sound and packaging with three-to-four star material. Even at a price - I had to have it. I'm going to be dipping into this set a lot in the future and I would say you should too. Recommended.

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