Album: The Supremes A’ Go-Go
. . .
It didn’t really happen until decades after the original recordings, but pretty much everybody knows by now, the Motown studio musicians awesomely known as “The Funk Brothers” were as responsible for their amazing 1960’s run as the above-the-line performers, writers and producers who got the big glory. And the big bucks.
As the bass player in the Funk Brothers, James Jamerson was the unheralded engine of many many many songs that you’ve known all your life, and it would be fools errand to try to choose his greatest bassline, but I’ll swear on a stack of Jam albums that his most iconic was the one that opened The Supremes’ 1966 smash, “You Can’t Hurry Love.” His bouncing bass is absolutely the lead musical instrument, dancing on top of Robert White’s guitar stabs and Benny Benjamin’s snare, setting up an indelible bet over which Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Marlene Barrow sing one of the most indelible choruses Holland-Dozier-Holland ever wrote. Everybody sing!
“You can’t hurry love
No, you just have to wait”
She said, “Love don’t come easy
It’s a game of give and take” (Can’t wait)
“You can’t hurry love (Ooh, until that day)
No, you just have to wait
You got to trust, give it time (Love don’t come easy)
No matter how long it takes”
With everybody involved bringing their A game, maybe even their A+ game. For example, “You Can’t Hurry Love” achieves its maximum forward momentum early on as it breathlessly moves from that choruses into the following verses — of which there are three — with Ross barely taking a breath. Even the breakdown / restart in the middle doesn’t stop the momentum, because it focuses the song back to that bassline for the final verse.
As befits a song and performance this great, “You Can’t Hurry Love” was the Supremes seventh U.S. #1 — it only made it to #3 in the U.K. — and kicked off a run of four #1s in a row. Almost as good as the five in a row they snagged in 1964-1965. And, of course, “You Can’t Hurry Love” has been covered and/or stolen from a zillion times in the past half-century, as damn well it should have been.
“You Can’t Hurry Love”
“You Can’t Hurry Love” on the Ed Sullivan Show
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