You know what tells your audience you value them? Leading off your latest album with the last song from your previous (non-tribute) LP. But when the inner voice of self-criticism tells you that maybe you shouldn’t to do that you say to yourself “But hey, this is a new mix that they don’t have yet!”
Motown’s determination to pump out multiple albums per year despite not having enough new material seems almost unrivaled in the 1960s, until you remember the kinds of things labels got up to on EPs. (They would regularly release EPs of material that were just a few tracks from the artist’s latest or forthcoming LP.) It just feels really insulting to be fed the same stuff as you’re told it’s “new”. It’s a practice that deserved to die and it’s good that it did.
This album contains three Supremes hits but, weirdly, I know the lesser one just as much as the two #1s. That has to do with listening to too much Oldies Radio when I was kid, but it also means that the record is stronger for that memory. As usual with these albums, the rest of the material is not quite on the level of the singles. (Though I know the opening track now because it was on another album of theirs I’ve already heard, as I already complained about.)
As usual, the arrangements are elaborate and slick. This is the Motown format and it should come as no surprise that it sometimes feels as though more thought was put into the way the songs are presented than the actual songs themselves. (There are two rhymes of “arms” and “charms” to give you an idea of the material they maybe should have worked on a bit more.) So if you like the big sound of Motown – and particularly of The Supremes – you will like this album if you can ignore the inconsistency of the material.
I read somewhere that some find the production thin. I can’t agree. It sounds pretty consistent with other Motown records I’ve heard from the era. I can hear everything and there is some depth to the recording. (I am listening on headphones, FYI.) In fact, I’d say that a record like this with thinner production would be a real problem for me.
Honestly I’d rate it higher only Motown liked to insult its fans by releasing “new” albums with old music and that to me is pretty unforgivable.