Way back when, I had friends who’d argue endlessly about the quality and achievements of their favorite music groups in comparison with others. Possibly, none more so than with those groups that transitioned with new members over the years. The music labels were not about to let go of a popular (read money-making) group name just because the lead singer headed out on a solo career (which they likely also managed).
But when the discussions turned to The Supremes… excuse me, make that Diana Ross & The Supremes, it could lead to a wellspring of quarreling. It proved to be the prime source of vocal disputes among my friends in the early 70s. I contended the talented singers that came on to this all female singing group, post Diva Diana of course, got short-shrift.
The short end of the stick, as it were; the fuzzy end of the lollipop.
They had to deal with the echo of all of those 60s hits by Motown’s first girl group that successfully crossed over to pop. Plus, be compared to the newly released Ross prominently on the scene with her new single gig (which would include film in short time). Not to mention Berry Gordy, more interested in guiding Ross’ new path, pulled resources away from The Supremes. Everything ‘Diana’ was publicized on radio and her tours heavily promoted — the latter partook by friends and I, more than once.
All of which made it that much harder for the replacements. Nevertheless, new lead singer Jean Terrell (now paired alongside Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong) had a voice that I instantly fell for. As this celebratory post reminded:
“Where Ross had a good “pop” voice, Terrell was more appropriately a soul belter – listen to her vocal on the “River Deep, Mountain High” team-up with the Four Tops (1970) and you can see where Terrell’s rougher approach may have been more fitting for the direction that soul music, and popular music in general, was moving in those days.”
Her short stint with The Supremes (aka, 70s Supremes) remains memorable. Admittedly, I’m biased as she was L.A.-based and once sang with her brother (the former WBA heavyweight champion) in the group Ernie Terrell & the Knockouts the previous decade. The new version of the threesome did crank out some solid tunes, Up the Ladder to the Roof, Nathan Jones and others. But to me the one song I felt stood up to any of the successful singles in Supremes legacy was 1970’s Stoned Love.
Written by Kenny Thomas and Frank Wilson, arranged by David Van DePitte, it harkened back somewhat to Sly and the Family Stone and 60s-era pleas for people of the world to end conflict (read Vietnam War) and come together. Lyrically similar perhaps, yet with a compelling approach more in tune with Motown hallmarks: alluring female lead and backing vocals and a stellar sax riff. It certainly showcased Terrell’s talents all the while maintaining the distinct sound of the group and the label’s production values.
Agreeing with blogger 30daysout, even though not as popular, Jean Terrell had a broader range of voice than Diana (who makes appearances every so often in the city I call home). I just wish I’d run into Jean, at least once — I have little doubt she’d be friendlier than you-know-who. Stoned Love was the biggest post-D hit, a R&B chart-topper, and spent five weeks in Billboard’s Pop Top Ten, a half-dozen on the UK’s. Truly, an enduring song that recalls a bygone era and group. One worth remembering and acknowledging those who made it so. Hope you enjoy.
That it appeared in the 1994 film Forrest Gump was one of those unexpected joys by this movie and music lover.
Now I wanna tell ya of a great love, oh It will light up It will surely light up darkened worlds If you just believe Stoned love Stoned love Stoned love Oh yeah A love for each other will bring fighting to an end Forgiving one another, time after time doubt creeps in But like the sun lights up the sky with a message from above Oh yeah, I find no other greater symbol of love Yeah, don't ya hear the wind blowing Stoned love Oh yeah, I tell ya I ain't got no other Stoned Love Oh yeah And life is so short, put the present time at hand Oh yeah, and if you're young at heart, rise up and take your stand And to the man on whose shoulder the world must depend I pray for peace and love, Amen Oh, can't ya feel it Stoned Love I tell ya I ain't got no other Stoned Love Oh yeah If the war 'tween our nations passed, oh yeah Will the love 'tween our brothers and sisters last? On and on and on and on and Stoned Love Oh yeah I tell ya I ain't got no other Stoned Love Can't ya, can't ya, can't ya, can't ya, can't ya feel it Stoned Love Oh yeah stoned, stoned, stoned, stoned Stoned Love Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah Stoned Love Oh yeah, yeah Stoned Love