Songs I Love will be a Series I’ll return to without much notice nor with any regular schedule, mainly I’ll seek a spur of the moment rehashing of singular songs that have marked the music landscape with which I define my tastes.
Amid growing tensions within the group and the Motown label at large, their 26th release, ‘Reflections’ became the Supremes first single adorned with the name Diana Ross & the Supremes. Much like the Miracles had done 2 years prior and became Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Diana Ross was seeking to assert herself as a creative force outside a mere template, not just for recognition and additional economic stature, but as something of a trailblazer within the label and industry at large. Much has been said of Barry Gordy’s mafioso like control of his artists, and Diana Ross seeing her name busted out on the marquee must be looked at as a monumental break from the ordered power of the industry at the time. It wasn’t that she was a remarkably talented performer, but that she was no longer a pay check player to Gordy (or larger, the entire music industry) and that see deserved the autonomy and respect that went along with it. That she didn’t hurt the other artists in her wake makes her move all that more remarkable; men had done it (previously I’d mentioned Smokey Robinson for example among many others), but women really hadn’t. You can’t imagine Ronnie Spector getting more power than actually dating (and later marrying) Phil Spector and yet it never became Ronnie Spector & the Ronettes. No, Diana Ross was the first to breakdown the barrier, and with her group almost single-handling representing the States against the British Invasion in the charts for several years, you can’t begin to imagine the legacy this entailed. Continue reading