Just four months after presenting an album of the songs of their Motown collaborators Holland-Dozier-Holland, the Supremes were back in stores with their 11th studio set on 22 May 1967. This time, in considerable contrast, they were visiting the musicals.
Their new release, their last before Diana Ross was given “name above the title” billing, was The Supremes Sing Rodgers & Hart. Produced by Berry Gordy and Gil Askey, it featured a dozen covers of the show tunes of the celebrated writing duo of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart.
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Gordy had long recognised the Supremes’ ability to reach beyond their original R&B fan base into middle America, and maximised it by having the trio play supper clubs for white audiences. He saw this new album as the logical next move.
Even if some fans of their recent smash hit singles such as ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On’ and ‘Love Is Here And Now You’re Gone’ may have found covers of ‘The Lady Is A Tramp’ and ‘My Funny Valentine’ incongruous, the girls had topped the Hot 100 the week before the album’s release with the distinctly pop-oriented ‘The Happening.’ It may have been at the expense of some of their R&B followers, who only took the song to No. 12 on that chart, but the Supremes were becoming fully conversant with a middle of the road audience.
The album’s track listing was gathered chiefly from Rodgers & Hart’s already time-honoured songbook of the 1920s and ’30s, such as 1934’s ‘Blue Moon,’ ‘My Romance’ (from the 1935 musical Jumbo) and ‘Falling In Love With Love,’ from 1938’s The Boys From Syracuse. The LP was originally intended as a double disc, for which the group recorded 13 further songs, all of which emerged on a Complete Recordings version of the album in 2002.
Where The Supremes Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland had reached No. 6 on the US pop album chart, Sing Rodgers & Hart peaked at No. 20. By September, Diana Ross and the Supremes (as they now were) were back on the charts again with their first Greatest Hits album.
The Supremes Sing Rodgers & Hart can be bought here.
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