The Supremes – High Energy (C062-97687) (1976)

SAM_1419The polar opposite of the individualistic vision exemplified by Laura Nyro below, this late-period Supremes disco outing is a thoroughly corporate number; the group, after innumerable personnel changes and, at this point, containing only one original member, reduced to little more than a Brand Name. This state of affairs is unwittingly (if amusingly) alluded to by the literally faceless trio of figures on the front cover and the fact that, while producers, engineers, conga player, etc. are named, the singers are not.

All of which is not to say High Energy is bad. As suggested in the recent Supremes article, part of the charm of the venture is its very commercial contrivance. And with various Hollands and Doziers back manning production/songwriting duties and budgets obviously high, this was never going to be a dud. Certainly, “You’re What’s Missing In My Life”, “I’m Gonna Let My Heart Do the Walking”, “Don’t Let My Teardrops Bother You” are all examples of really good mid-70s disco-soul and if Motown had called the band High Energy (or something) instead of the album, they would have been seen more fairly in the continuum of the Supremes, with their orchestral filigrees and spoken love tokens, instead of in the parent band’s shadow.

SAM_1420A second Lp (and on relatively heavy vinyl) from Age UK this a.m., where I skipped on a good looking Nina and Friedrik album despite its being on Atco. I simply didn’t have the heart.

Published in: on April 11, 2013 at 3:03 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. According to Wikipedia, the group at this stage still contained one original member, Mary Wilson. Oddly, the cover shows only 3 Supremes although there were in fact 4 members in the group at this time.

  2. You’re absolutely right about Mary Wilson, I’ll edit the article to reflect this fact; however, while four members were on the album, I believe there were only 3 Supremes in the group at any given time with Cindy Birdsong being replaced while the Lp was being made by Susaye Greene. This awkwardness goes some way to explaining the lack of vocal IDs and the “faceless” cover.

  3. A permanent fixture in my collection is the follow up album to this: “Mary, Scherrie, & Susaye”. There are some ESSENTIAL tracks on it -try “Come Into My Life” and “We Should Be Closer Together” if you’re not familiar. Both arranged by Dale Warren, who I think gets arranger credit on “High Energy” too.

    I have learnt that Dale Warren’s name in the credits means its a buy.

    • The arrangement on the title track is unusual for Motown in that there’s something like 2 mins groove before proper singing starts; don’t know if that Warren’s calling card, but it sounds cool here.

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