Tamla T 54045 (B),June 1961
(reissued July 1961)
B-side of Buttered Popcorn
(Written by Smokey Robinson)
Supposedly, when Berry Gordy “became aware” of the double entendres around the Supremes’ second single, Buttered Popcorn – and for “became aware”, read: “saw his plan to get radio play by releasing a controversial record foiled after fatally misjudging his audience” – he tried to switch focus to the B-side, concentrating Motown’s promotional efforts on getting this side some radio play instead.
It didn’t work, and the single still flopped – which is hardly surprising, because this record isn’t very good at all. It’s a cover of an earlier Miracles B-side, reworked and played in a different style to the Miracles’ version so as to sound more like the Supremes’ lovely debut single I Want A Guy, complete with strings and flutes all over the backing track.
Florence Ballard had taken the lead for the unloved A-side, but for this B-side Diana Ross takes over, as she had done for I Want A Guy and its equally pretty B-side Never Again. However, where Ross had been the star of the show on that first single, her performance here is adequate at best; she has trouble hitting a few notes, and can’t quite emulate Claudette from the Miracles on the falsetto ending. (The liner notes for The Complete Motown Singles: Volume 1 settle for describing her as “nervous-sounding”).
Who’s Lovin’ You (the title picks up an extra “g” on some 45 pressings, but is corrected for its appearance on the LP Meet the Supremes, left, in 1962) works well enough rearranged for a female vocal group – Flo, Mary and Barbara provide decent support for Ross as she struggles her way through the material – but it just doesn’t suit Ross’ voice, and (as was discussed when talking about the Miracles version) I really don’t think the song is anything special to begin with, despite the critical praise that has since been lavished on it. It’s an average B-side with a quite pretty tune, and no more than that.
This was Barbara Martin’s last “official” apperance on a Supremes single, as the group contracted to the core trio of Ross, Ballard and Wilson not long after its release and failure. She would be featured, uncredited, on the Supremes’ third single, Your Heart Belongs To Me, recorded before she left the group but not released until almost a year later, in May 1962. The group themselves were also sent back to the drawing board; after two flop singles, their status as “the no-hit Supremes”, the runts of the Motown litter, was already starting to take hold.
MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
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Motown Junkies has reviewed other Motown versions of this song:
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“Oh Mother Of Mine”