Friday, May 25, 2007

Diana Ross and The Supremes: Love Child

By the late 1960's, with five singles failing to make it into the Top 20, Diana Ross and The Supremes were in a rut. In the era of peace and love, pop culture was being influenced by underground culture, making the type of polished pop songs that The Supremes were known for passé.

Motown's signature act had to change.

Motown head honcho Berry Gordy held an emergency meeting at a hotel in Detroit with a team of writers and producers at the label. The group, dubbed The Clan, set to work on a new hit single for The Supremes.

The result was Love Child.

Love Child broke out of Motown's love song mould. The song was about a woman who was asking her boyfriend not to pressure her into sleeping with him. The woman, herself a love child, was afraid of conceiving out of wedlock. The song would talk about the hardships of being illegitimite: not having a father at home, wearing rags to school and growing up in an "old, cold, run-down tenement slum."

For Love Child, The Supremes' image changed also: the album cover photo was taken in an alley, and during an Ed Sullivan performance, they went as far as ditching their glamour queen gowns for street "rags".


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