A lot of Motown albums don’t hold up that well 55 years later, as many of them if not most of them are sort of built the same way that rock and roll albums of the ’50s were built – a bunch of hit singles, their b-sides and then a bunch of dross that was recorded for some reason or other but never would have past the quality controls in place for singles releases.
But the second Supremes record is both impressively stocked with singles – 6 of the 12 tracks were released as singles over the course of a year and a quarter or so – and has enough quality among the non-singles that it doesn’t feel as though those songs were throwaways. Yes, the album is severely front-loaded, but given how short the album is that’s not such a big deal.
I am not the biggest fan of Motown, both the way in which they made their music – where it seems performers often had little agency – and the way they defined a pop version of soul which, for me, neuters are severely restricts much of what there is to like about the genre. But this record is an example of how it can be done pretty damn well, where the arrangements and production feel like they are at the service of the songs and the singers, rather than unnecessary window-dressing or a crutch to hide weaker performances.
I like this more than I expected. But, moreover, by the standards of the time I think it’s pretty damn good given how common it was for filler to take up a big chunk of albums. I have no idea if it’s their best album but it would not at all surprise me to learn that it was.
All tracks written by Holland–Dozier–Holland except as noted.
- “Where Did Our Love Go” – 2:33
- “Run, Run, Run” – 2:16
- “Baby Love” – 2:39
- “When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes” – 3:05
- “Come See About Me” – 2:44
- “Long Gone Lover” (Smokey Robinson) – 2:27
- “I’m Giving You Your Freedom” – 2:40
- “A Breathtaking Guy” (Robinson) – 2:25
- “He Means the World to Me” (Norman Whitfield) – 2:00
- “Standing at the Crossroads of Love” – 2:27
- “Your Kiss of Fire” (Robert Gordy, Harvey Fuqua) – 2:48
- “Ask Any Girl” – 3:00