Banter on Tulips and a Tribe Called Quest, Jay-Z and John Coltrane, Outkast and Othello.


Of Mice and Motown

Now playing: "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" The Temptations & the Supremes

I grew up on this stuff, but have only recently appreciated the vast depth of this Motown supergroup. Because of the close similarity of The Temptations movie and my all-time fave, The Five Heartbeats, I refused to watch the former until recently. Two weeks ago, I finally watched it. My thoughts were that the story was good, and kindled my interest in songs like "Aint Too Proud to Beg", "Beauty's Only Skin Deep" and "Don't Look Back". But, of course it was vastly skewed as Otis Williams, whose only real musical claim to fame is being the original group's sole survivor was the teller (he who lives until the end gets to write the story). Watching the movie set me on a path on intrigue, to rediscover this music, these people who made up this group.

Being the daughter of a Hittsville aficionado had it's benefits growing up. In the past, I've read Motown memoirs, like Diana's "Secrets of a Sparrow" and Mary Wilson's "Dreamgirl," her "scratch your eyes out" account of being cast in Duchess Diana's shadow as she pulled no punches (and many nights on Berry Gordy's "director's couch") to ascend to stardom. But, as much as people love to hate Miss Ross, I just couldn't imagine anyone else singing that fitting mice-squeak lead to "Reflections" or "Someday We'll Be Together."

And it's the same way with the Temps. Who would they have been without David Ruffin "With a Tuffin", his effortless timing, soulful delivery and stage presence, even if the man did succumb too early (hopefully not like Whitney) to the perils of drugs and alochol? I searched for their story and found an account by David's "common law" wife. I plan to read soon, to get more on the story of this troubled man, and group, that was by all accounts, uber-talented, but ill-fated. Like many other black superstars--Phyllis Hyman, Donny Hathaway, Paul Williams--gone too soon.


At May 12, 2006 3:33 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do people persist in claiming that Berry Gordy and Diana Ross' sexual relationship was the sole reason she became a star. Mary Wilson slept with most of Motown and half of Detroit and what did it get her? Berry also slept with Freda Payne, Chris Clark, and many others. They didn't aceive the level of stardom Diana did. She possesed something they did not; and it wasn't merely Gordy's codpiece.

At May 17, 2006 11:44 AM , Blogger Mahogany Elle said...

Um, thanks for your comments "anonymous"... I don't think I ever said it was the "sole" reason that she vaulted to fame, but certainly a factor.

From casting her as the lead in "The Wiz" movie (over the more qualified Stephanie Mills) to changing the name of the Supremes to "Diana Ross and the Supremes" (when there were other groups like the Temps and Four Tops with equally prominent lead singers), Berry pulled strings for Diana in a way that he didn't for other stars, not to mention that the two had a child together that Berry supported, giving them another aspect to their unique relationship. I love Diana Ross' music as much as the next person, but those are the facts.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home