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Gotta Hear This #14

Stuart Bailie | 22:58 UK time, Sunday, 30 September 2012

We lost Frank Wilson a few days ago. Most of the obits have related to the producer's time at Motown, when he helmed some peerless sessions with Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Miracles and The Four Tops. He was also a singer in his own right - 'Do I Love You' is a stomper of the first order and the defining Northern Soul rarity.

The guy also co-wrote my most favourite anthem ever. 'Stoned Love' was the final US hit for The Supremes in 1970. Diana Ross had left by this time, but Jean Terrell was entirely capable. Actually, her voice has a richer timbre than her predecessor, and with the help of Cindy Birdsong and Mary Wilson, the song builds into this fierce expression of hope and deliverance. The way that it surges and flutters is perfection. No other record moves me so entirely. You can dance to it and it takes to this unique, beautiful place.

Kenny Thomas wrote the lyrics and while they don't look amazing on the page, there's a yearning sentiment that Frank Wilson finessed. Vietnam was surely an issue as Kenny figures that "a love for each other will bring fighting to an end". Bands like the Rolling Stones were priming this new decade for cynicism and defeat, but The Supremes sing it like they believe it to their souls. The original theme was "stone love", like a layer of granite, imperishable. But the change also works, because now the feeling is transformational and gone.

I became familiar with the record at a club night called The Locomotion in London. The Town & Country venue had a lovely old wooden floor and a high ceiling. The Motown beat resounded so sweetly there. To be honest, the first time it hit me there was a personal narrative (big love, horrendously unrequited). And while a bit of that feeling is still summoned up by the intro, the ensuing minutes are pure and cleansing. It makes me cry. But in a good way.


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