Reflections: The Definitive Performances 1964-1969 is a DVD set that gathers hours of rare, lost, and forgotten performances by The Supremes. My only problem with some of these four decade and older performances is that I seem to remember when they originally aired, which means that I am older than they are.
The Supremes of the 1960’s — Diana Ross, Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, and replacement Cindy Birdsong — were the jewels in the Motown empire crown, selling millions of albums and producing twelve Number One pop singles. They came across as beautiful, sophisticated, and mature while appealing to both teenagers and adults; as well, they were a rare group that was appreciated by black and white music fans alike.
The tracks are wisely presented in chronological order and so you see The Supremes grow up before your eyes as the lashes get longer, the hair is piled higher, and the dresses become more expensive.
The performances are consistently interesting even if the video and sound quality is below average in places. While these problems may be annoying, there is not much that can be done with television shows over forty years old.
A performance of “Where Did Our Love Go” from The Steve Allen Show during 1964 finds the group looking young and happy. While the sound on “Come See About Me,” taken from Teen Town in 1965, may have a fuzzy quality, it finds the girls singing into one mic; plus, if you look closely you can see the Funk Brothers in the background.
One of my favorite Supremes tunes, “Nothing But Heartaches,” which is shown here as sung on the Hullabaloo show, is unfortunately another song with audio issues. Incidentally, I have a number of these shows in my collection and I have to say that the sound quality is consistently below par, which is too bad as it detracts from an otherwise spectacular performance.
The mistakes are presented alongside the brilliant performances. Diana Ross forgets the lyrics of “I Hear A Symphony” during the Mike Douglas Show in 1965. And the lip syncing of “Stop! In The Name Of Love” ranges from abysmal to funny.
When The Supremes were at the top of their game, though, few were any better. “You Can’t Hurry Love,” from The Ed Sullivan Show in 1966, and “Love Is Here And Now You’re Gone,” from the 1967 Andy Williams Show, illustrate what Sixties pop music is all about.
Reflections: The Definitive Performances 1964-1969 is a treat as it presents one of the great groups in the history of pop music. It would be nice to see a volume two as there are a number of Ed Sullivan performances that were missing. It would be nice to see some of their lesser known material collected as well. Still, if you have never seen any of these performances or if you are like me and are resurrecting them from the mist of time, they make for a worthwhile and entertaining set.