At last, Mary Wilson is vindicated as the great singer of The Supremes.
A new Supremes collection, called “The Motown Anthology,” features 14 solo tracks from Wilson, redefining her role in the group and in pop history. It arrives on March 4th.
Mary died last year suddenly from a massive heart attack. She was 76, and one of my favorite people. I featured her in the documentary, “Only the Strong Survive,” as she toured endlessly, cut off from the Supremes legacy by Diana Ross and Berry Gordy for telling the truth of her life in her memoir, “Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme.”
This new “Anthology” showcases Mary. There are no solo tracks from Ross, who cut the final Supremes single, “Someday We’ll Be Together,” without Mary or Cindy Birdsong but using studio singers. Mary didn’t even know the song existed until she heard it on the radio in 1969. But on tour– as we recorded in the documentary– she sang and made it her own.
A 44-page booklet comes with the CD package and offers detailed track annotations, and exclusive tributes to Mary from such fellow stars, notables, and admirers as Dionne Warwick, Darlene Love, Otis Williams, Duke Fakir, Martha Reeves, Claudette Robinson, Brian and Edward Holland, Paul McCartney, Rita Coolidge, Merry Clayton, Brenda Russell, Blinky Williams, and RuPaul. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has written a special appreciation for the unique release.
Mary triumphed over the Motown PR machine in the end. She worked tirelessly for artists’ rights, and for the rights of all musicians who’d had their legacies taken away in legal disputes over names of famous groups like the Supremes, Platters, Drifters, and so on. She was so smart, too: Mary kept all the Supremes’ gowns and lent them out as a museum exhibit on a very popular national tour.
Mary was fiercely independent and knew her worth. When Ross wanted her to join a Supremes 40th anniversary Mary declined because she’d be paid a fraction of what Diana was receiving. She was never going to be second fiddle. When Gordy latched onto Ross as the Supremes’ lead singer, knocking Mary to back up status, Supremes records were mixed to highlight Ross’s voice. But years ago a new CD of Supremes songs was released in which the original intended mixes brought out Mary’s contribution. Now this collection offers alternative mixes that really demonstrate Mary as a power house.
The full tracklist of the 2CD edition is:
Pretty Baby (Mono Single Version) – The Primettes
Baby Don’t Go (2021 Alternate Mix) – The Supremes
The Tears (Stereo Mix) – The Supremes
Our Day Will Come (2021 Alternate Mix) – The Supremes
Come And Get These Memories (Alternate Mix) – Diana Ross & The Supremes
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (Live at The Frontier January 13, 1970) – Diana Ross & The Supremes
Falling In Love With Love (Live at The Frontier January 13, 1970)- Diana Ross & The Supremes
Send Him To Me – The Supremes
If You Let Me Baby – The Supremes
Son Of A Preacher Man – The Supremes
Witchi Tai To – The Supremes
Touch (2021 Alternate Mix) – The Supremes
Floy Joy (2021 Alternate Mix) – The Supremes
Automatically Sunshine (2021 Alternate Mix) – The Supremes
I Keep It Hid (2021 Alternate Vocal and Mix) – The Supremes
Can We Love Again (Outtake) – The Supremes
Early Morning Love (2021 Alternate Vocal and Mix) – The Supremes
You Turn Me Around (2021 Alternate Mix) – The Supremes
You’re What’s Missing In My Life (2021 Alternate Mix Edit) – The Supremes
Don’t Let My Teardrops Bother You (2021 Alternate Vocal and Mix) – The Supremes
Till The Boat Sails Away (2021 Alternate Vocal and Mix) – The Supremes
I Don’t Want To Lose You (2021 Alternate Vocal and Mix) – The Supremes
We Should Be Closer Together (2021 Alternate Vocal and Mix) – The Supremes
You Are The Heart Of Me (2021 Alternate Vocal and Mix) – The Supremes
Anytime At All – Mary Wilson
Red Hot – Mary Wilson
I’ve Got What You Need – Mary Wilson
You Make Me Feel So Good – Mary Wilson
(I Love A) Warm Summer Night – Mary Wilson
Pick Up The Pieces – Mary Wilson
You’re The Light That Guides My Way – Mary Wilson
Midnight Dancer – Mary Wilson
Save Me (The Gus Dudgeon Sessions) – Mary Wilson
Love Talk (The Gus Dudgeon Sessions) – Mary Wilson
Green River (The Gus Dudgeon Sessions) – Mary Wilson
You Danced My Heart Around The Stars (The Gus Dudgeon Sessions) – Mary Wilson
Why Can’t We All Get Along – Mary Wilson
Red Hot (The Eric Kupper Remix) – Mary Wilson