The final recordings from the most fabled of girl-groups.
Daryl Easlea 2011
The 59 tracks on Let Yourself Go – the complete recordings of the Mary Wilson-led Supremes between 1974 and 1977 – demonstrate that the group were still making exceptionally well-produced, lovingly crafted records, but the world had turned. While their former leader Diana Ross’ solo career went from strength to strength, The Supremes had long disappeared from the UK charts, where the group had been replaced by the Three Degrees in popular affection.
This three-disc follows This Is the Story, the first in this beautifully packaged series, which featured the recordings made by the group in the three years after Ross had left, when Jean Terrell took over as lead vocalist. Let Yourself Go picks up in 1974 after Terrell had departed, replaced by Scherrie Payne, sister of Band of Gold chart-topper Freda Payne. Wilson asked Cindy Birdsong to rejoin the group and this line-up remained intact until 1976.
Their great, late minor hits – He’s My Man, I’m Gonna Let My Heart Do the Walking and Early Morning Love – are here, from the two albums this line-up recorded, The Supremes and High Energy (in its original, scrapped mix and the released version).
The final line-up saw Susaye Green, a former member of Stevie Wonder’s backing vocalists Wonderlove, join Payne and Wilson, and create the minor masterpiece Mary, Scherrie & Susaye. However, their final UK single Love I Never Knew You Could Feel So Good underlines their greatness but also spells out their dilemma – they sounded like every other girl group of that era, atop a frantic proto-disco backing.
Although this set may be for completists only, there is a great deal to enjoy, especially the material and outtakes from Mary, Scherrie & Susaye. Here they were reunited with Eddie and Brian Holland, with a fair section of the songs arranged by James Carmichael, who was then making his name doing similar with the Commodores.
Full of rarities and alternate versions, sumptuously packaged and annotated, Let Yourself Go really is the last word from The Supremes. It may not have the power or nostalgia of Love Child or Stoned Love, but there is still sufficient magic to go round.