On December 5, 1964, the Supremes were big international news and made the UK LP chart for the first time, by inviting us to Meet The Supremes. After shaking off their unwanted tag as the “no-hit” Supremes, the Motown trio were travelling, in every sense. They scored two big UK hits in the space of a few weeks with “Where Did Our Love Go” and “Baby Love,” and now it was time for some album action.
The UK album chart for that week is a fascinating reflection of the musical currents that were flowing at the time. The Beatles, almost inevitably, were at No.1, with A Hard Day’s Night, followed by the self-titled debut albums by the Rolling Stones and the Kinks. Other breakthrough groups of the time such as Manfred Mann and the Animals were also in the Top 10, but as ever, they had the easy listening brigade to compete with. The Bachelors had a Top 10 album and Jim Reeves, tragically killed in a plane crash that summer, had two.
New international admirers
Meet The Supremes was not a new album at the time of its UK debut. The group had released it as their first long player as far back as the end of 1962, when it failed to chart even in America. It contained no fewer than four singles, none of which made much of an impression. But when the girls crashed into the British consciousness in 1964, it was a different story. With a slightly different track listing, Motown had an album they could present to their international admirers.
The UK edition also featured songs from the group’s subsequent 1964 release Where Did Our Love Go, as well as the B-side, the expansively-titled “(The Man With The) Rock & Roll Banjo Band.” Credited to Clarence Paul and Berry Gordy Jr., that track appeared on the 1965 LP The Supremes Sing Country, Western and Pop. Also included was the single from Where Did Our Love Go that became the Supremes’ first US Top entry, the jaunty “When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes.”
Listen to the 60s Motown playlist.
The “Anglicized” Meet The Supremes debuted at No.17, the second highest new entry of the week, behind Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman” at No.11. The following week, it climbed to No.13, which turned out to be its peak. Very surprisingly, even with all of their massive popularity with one hit single after another, the Supremes didn’t make the Top 10 of the UK album chart until they topped it four years later with their Greatest Hits collection.
Buy or stream Meet The Supremes.