Dutch…Holland…Brian and Eddie Holland — double Dutch! Geddit? It's all a rather silly way of pointing out that the girls have been reunited with the duo for their superb new album, "High Energy", which will see them regain their Supremacy...
ABOUT to embark on their annual British tour are the Supremes, three young ladies who have remained one of the foundation groups for the ever-growing Motown empire over nearly fifteen years. But even the girl's most loyal fans would have to accede that the last couple of years have been a little flat for the girls.
Their records have not sold and they have undergone a couple of internal changes, leaving founder member Mary Wilson as the only original Supreme. For the forthcoming tour, she will be joined again by Scherrie Payne and newest member, Susaye Green, who was previously with Stevie Wonder's Wonderlove backing group and who made the transition to Supreme a few weeks ago amid a blaze of publicity over the fact that Cindy Birdsong was deposed because she was (quote!): "Too fat and didn't pay heed to the warnings given."
Anyway, the bottom of that episode may never be reached but to continue into happier climes, the Supremes have a new album that has just been released in the States and should be on the streets of Worksop by the time this feature is published. Entitled "High Energy", it marks a very definite upward trend in the winning career of the girls.
It also reunites them with Brian Holland and Eddie Holland, who were at the recording helm when the threesome — then Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and either Florence Ballard or Cindy Birdsong in the first of her two spells with the trio — were at their peak.
The original Supremes set a precedent that will probably never be equalled by another girl group and no matter what may be said today of the Three Degrees, the original Supremes will never be toppled in my book as The Girl Group Of All Time.
"The album marks a completely new direction for the Supremes," Mary Wilson enthused, having been awoken at a rather unGodly hour to carry out this pre-London tour interview. "Being back with Holland and Holland is itself a step in the right direction for because they know better than anybody what we need to be successful. We left them completely to select the songs and I can honestly say I'm pleased with every one of them.
"My favourites? Well, that's kind-of hard but I do like "Don't Let My Teardrops Bother You" a lot. And "I'm Gonna Let My Heart Do The Walking". But the single will be the title track, "High Energy" because it is the one that everybody is playing."
That title cut is one of those heavily orchestrated things that the discos lap up and is reminiscent of what Norman Whitfield was cutting so successfully with the Temptations when they were consistent chart-toppers. It does, however, feature a fairly stunning vocal from a new girl, Susaye Green, that brings a completely new direction into the group and underlines just how seriously they plan to become more involved in orthodox R&B — even if it means that the lucrative supper clubs get pushed into the back seat for a while as they re-establish themselves as an R&B act.
Naturally, the single will have to be edited from its five minutes twenty five album cut.
The inclusion of Susaye in the group does genuinely add a new dimension to the group and it leaves Mary free to sing lead on the ballads — a role that she excels at on this new album and that she has been under-valued in for several years.
Susaye was pressured into the group by their manager and Mary's husband, Pedro Ferrer — simply because he liked her voice so much and that is refeshing in itself in this complicated day and age.
The departure of Cindy took place whilst this album was being recorded and that accounts for the reasoning behind the fact that both she and Susaye are on the album. "It was Cindy's own decision to leave the group," Mary confirms. "But each time anyone leaves, it makes me feel very sad and I take a time to readjust."
Could there ever be a time when Mary leaves herself? "I can't visualise it today because I still love being a Supreme. I love the excitement, the travel and everything that is involved. Sure, I get tired — but only from the work and the fact that I'm constantly on the go.
"But the time could come when I come to tire of it and when that time comes, I'll have no hesitation in quitting. But, as I say, as long as I am loving what I'm doing I'll carry on and I sincerely hope that I love it forever."
The subject changed to the upcoming British tour which will be one of the most important that the Supremes have ever carried out. Not only do they have a new image, a completely new show and a new girl — but they are planning a serious assault on our charts again via "High Energy".
"I'm always pleased to be in Europe and especially Britain," Mary explained with more than a hint of sincerity in her voice. "I love our British fans — to me, they are every bit as loyal as our fans anywhere else in the world — even here in the States. I just hope that they'll enjoy our album as much as I do. But then I say that about every one of our albums because I have always felt that each new release is our best yet. But this new one is that little bit more special, isn't it?"
Whilst I totally agree with Mary's closing sentence, I beg to differ on the one that immediately preceded it because in my opinion, the Supremes have been record-cold for too long. But with the tour and that excellent album, my money is on Mary, Scherrie and Susaye reigning supreme again.