It was quite a dream team: take Motown’s most successful female act, the label’s biggest male group and put them together on album. The result was a record that topped the R&B chart and then spent a month at No. 1 in the UK. The Supremes and the Temptations were together on disc, and in the charts, for the first time on 30 November 1968.
The title may have been less than snappy, but Diana Ross & The Supremes Join The Temptations was every bit the success that Motown would have hoped for when it put these two giant names together. The album was part of an almost bewilderingly prolific release schedule for both groups late in 1968. Just a week later, the Supremes released their own new studio LP, Love Child, and within the month there was another collaboration with the Tempts in the form of the TCB television special soundtrack.
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Amusingly, the first combination of the two groups was incorrectly listed on the Billboard charts for its first two appearances as “Diana Ross Joins The Temptations and the Supremes,” perhaps unwittingly presaging her departure from the female trio at the end of 1969. The album was aimed unashamedly at the most mainstream audience possible, consisting entirely of cover versions; many came from other Motown artists, such as Marvin Gaye’s ‘Try It Baby’ and the Miracles’ ‘I’ll Try Something New.’
The lead single was the two groups’ combined version of ‘I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,’ released a couple of weeks after the album and a sizeable No. 2 hit on both the US pop and R&B charts. It also hit No. 3 in Britain and helped the album climb to No. 1 there in February 1969, where it enjoyed a month-long reign.
All of this, too, in the immediate wake of the departure from the Temptations of David Ruffin, a potentially major blow that the group took in its stride by replacing him with Dennis Edwards. He made his recording debut with Diana Ross & The Supremes Join The Temptations.
The album made its first US chart appearance, right down at No. 200, but raced a spectacular 143 places to No. 57 in its second week. By the last chart of the year, it was already No. 13, as the TCB album made its debut and helped the Supremes end 1968 with no fewer than five albums in the top 200.
The first collaboration peaked at No. 2 on the US chart on 11 January, by which time TCB was itself rising fast, not to mention that Love Child would peak at No. 14 soon afterwards. TCB kept on climbing and hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in early February, in a period of album chart domination that even Motown had rarely witnessed.
There are many more great artist combinations on uDiscover’s Motown Duets playlist.