Diana Ross and The Supremes Join The Temptations – Motown/ Speakers Corner (Germany) #679 – (original: 1968) audiophile 180 gram stereo LP ****:
(Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard, Otis Williams, Paul Williams, Dennis Edwards, David Ruffin, Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks – vocals; backed by Motown studio musicians)
It was not often that Motown would bring two of their super-star groups together for a recording session. They would many times record each other’s hits, but seldom come together for a recording. Two of the label’s most popular groups, the female Supremes, and the male Temptations (who could cover the full vocal octave range from falsetto to deep bass) did have a joint recording together in the late 60s that surprisingly is not well known today. Titled, Diana Ross and The Supremes Join The Temptations, the LP featured a variety of themes ranging from a Marvin Gaye meets Tammi Terrell monster hit (“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough); a nod to Stevie Wonder (“A Place in the Sun“); and mixing Diana’s soprano with Melvin Franklin’s bass on Marvin Gaye’s “Try It Baby.” This was more of a recording of others’ material than recording their own hits.
A special treat is the backing of a full orchestra on several of the tracks. Motown does not ignore their signature bass-driven beat and tambourines, but the addition of a full band with driving horns gives the feeling of being in an auditorium for a monumental concert.
“I Second That Emotion” lets Diana take center stage for the first chorus with The Temps providing the ideal mix of backing vocals. The favor is returned for the next chorus when The Temps take over. Dennis Edwards and Diana give Marvin and Tammi a run for their money on “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
“I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” brings to mind Smokey Robinson, as the Temps reach for the high notes before Diana trades vocals and flirts with her male cohorts. Sweet-singing tenor Otis Williams lopes through “This Guy’s in Love With You” as the Supremes do some vocal counterpoint with Diana taking lead and Florence and Mary adding to the mix that the entire Temptations provide.
“Funky Broadway” adds some grittiness that is welcome after some of the sweeter songs bring forth the need for some sass. “I’ll Try Something New” starts out tentatively, but takes off when the horns kick in and the groups let their voices blend. Stevie Wonder’s “A Place in the Sun” succeeds as Diana and the girls push The Temps on their choruses. We get the full range from soprano to bass and Stevie’s lyrics inspire.
“Sweet Inspiration” brings the church influence out and the percussion and hand claps add to the testifying. “The Impossible Dream” ends this one-off meeting between two of Motown’s legendary groups. An orchestral intro complete with chimes opens, before Ross’ lead vocal takes on a song that you would not expect on a Motown issue. The Temptations join in as the orchestra reaches a crescendo. Marching drums take the tune out and we are left hoping for an encore.
For fans of either group, who want to hear the two dream groups who epitomize sweet Motown soul blend their voices together in audiophile sound, this LP provides such an opportunity. The song choice could have been a bit better but The Supremes and Temptations make the most of having the chance to let their vocal talents help carry the day.
Side 1: Try It Baby, I Second That Emotion, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, I’m Gonna Make You Love Me, This Guy’s in Love With You, Funky Broadway
Side 2: I’ll Try Something New, A Place in the Sun, Sweet Inspiration, Then, The Impossible Dream
A lesser known jazz pioneer gets a re-mastered vinyl upgrade.