"I Hear A Symphony" Performed by The Supremes (1965), The Isley Brothers (1966), Stevie Wonder (1966), Barbara McNair (1969) & Michael Jackson (19??) & 1969)

January 12, 2009


the-supremes-i-hear-a-symphony

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The Supremes – I Hear A Symphony (1965)

Released as a single in October 1965,  “I Hear A Symphony” became The Supremes  sixth #1 on the Billboard Top 100.  Capitalizing on it’s hit status the song was also included on the LP, of the same name released in February 1966,  that zoomed to #1 on the R&B Charts and #8 Pop.  I can even recall the day I crossed the street  and walked around the corner to pick of my brand new copy of the LP! You see –  getting an new Supremes album was always an event to me as a tween. The Supremes were my “Miley Cyrus” as it were (LOL).

Looking back on this LP and it’s change from all cutesy tunes to the more romantic strings  got me to thinking if  “Symphony” was HDH’s answer to The Toys hit “Lover’s Concerto,” which coincidentally is covered on this album!  I have never seen this in print anywhere, but it was just a feeling I always had and would love to ask the trio if I ever had a chance to.

the-isley-brothers-this-old-heart-of-mine

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The Isley Brothers – I Hear A Symphony (1966)

The Isley Brothers had been singing since the Fifties. While at Motown, the group were assigned mostly cover tunes.  Like Gladys Knight and The Pips  (who were also assigned mostly cover tunes), The Isleys left the label and went on to create their own label, their own music and much success!

This is one of the many cover tunes assigned to the group during their Motown tenure. It appeared on their LP “This Old Heart of Mine” without their photo, to appeal to a crossover audience. Oh those sixties!

BTW you just gotta love Ron Isley’s lead on this track: his tenor voice is smooth like butta! I think he is one of the best male vocalists of our generation.

young-stevie-wonder

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Stevie Wonder – I Hear A Symphony (1966)

Recorded in the summer of 1966, Wonder’s cover did not appear on either of his 1966 releases. Instead the world first heard it  in the “Motown Sings Motown Treasures” compilation of 1998.

the-real-barbara-mcnair-1969

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Barbara McNair – I Hear A Symphony (1969)

McNair’s cover was made for her second Motown LP. It really is unfortunate that McNair was relegated to cover versions of other folk’s hits while a Motown. They rarely gave her her material (or the promotion) suited just for her unique style and talent. If you look at the track lists on her first two Motown releases you will see  what I mean. An the third and final Motown release is all Smokey songs originally made hits by The Miracles other Motown artists. Harumph.

looking-back-to-yesterday-1986-oop

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Michael Jackson – I Hear A Symphony

Released in an now out of print compilation of previously unreleased tunes form the Motown Vault — Mike’s cover of  “I Hear A Symphony”  finally saw the light of day in 1986.  It was probably recorded when they started to launch his solo career away from his brothers at Motown.

Wonder if the camera man was told to focus on you know who (who messed up a lyric or two in this live TV version – LOL)

Trivia tidbit:  Co-writer and co-producer of the original “I Hear A Symphony” actually recorded his own cover version of the song on another label in 2002.  Lamont Dozier’s cover appears on his release “An American Original.”  You see Dozier was a singer before he became a songwriter/producer  for Motown.

So you know the drill. Please share your thoughts on your favorite version  and any comments you have on all of the above!

My sincere thanks for your visit and participation. I am honored to have you here.

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Filed under:Barbara McNair,Holland/Dozier/Holland,I Hear A Symphony,Michael Jackson,Motown,Motown Covers Motown,Number Ones,Pop/R&B,Sixties,Stevie Wonder,The Isley Brothers,The Supremes

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Terri Elders January 13, 2009 at 2:14 pm

I’d never heard any of the versions before other than the original Supremes. What a joy to hear the young Michael’s version with that great piano intro, and to remember McNair’s throaty unique voice again. But when Stevie got to the first “then suddenly,” shivers went up my arms. I shivered throughout the song. Sometimes I forget what a remarkable singer Stevie Wonder is…my vote goes to his version, definitely!

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2 SupaStarry August 8, 2009 at 3:18 pm

This is my top fave Supreme song! (besides the Flo led Buttered Popcorn) here’s one song where i can honestly say i LOVE every cover version (minus Barbara McNair’s because i havent heard it yet). i love the performance vid you have up here. you could hear Flo loud and clear on back up. i love after the music break when Diana takes the mic…everybody was gettin into it. now whenever i here this song, i HAVE to say “When hear a symphony…” LOL

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3 SupaStarry August 10, 2009 at 1:15 pm

aint that news! lol. im not a Diana hater but i do love Flo, given the chance she couldve been huge with that voice! (Buttered Popcorn and her solo stuff shows it) thanks! i take that as a BIG compliment because your music taste is crazy. you kno WAY more than i do, but im tryin to get up there lol. my summer is goin great hope yours is too, cant wait for the new site!

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4 SupaStarry August 11, 2009 at 2:11 pm

lol k. i kno its hard work because awhile ago when i wanted to transfer my blog, i decided against it in the end.

its really hot ova here in NY too! its like 92 today but it feels worse. you stay cool too!

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5 anna November 12, 2010 at 8:09 am

My father loves this music

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6 SonDan November 13, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Anna,
Your dad has great taste in music ;-).

I am glad you found OSML and please introduce you dad to the site. I look forward to you both being frequent visitors and participants.

Hugs,

SonDan

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7 sondan August 8, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Hey Supa,

I just knew you had to be a Flo fan! cause your taste in music is great like mine (ROTFL). Anyway just taking a break from working on the new site and saw your email. Hope your summer is going great. Glad I am able to entertain you with some of the best music of all time!

Keeping the music alive — I am SonDan.

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8 sondan August 10, 2009 at 4:06 pm

Child I’ll be lucky if I can get my posts transferred to the new blog by my deadline. This is hard work and you give me way too much credit. I am slowly learning just the basics as I go so please, please lower you expectations. It is just good to know that I will now own my own content and have more freedom from the restrictions on blog hosts such as blogger, typepad, wp.com and the others, in how I can present information. This is scary but necessary — that’s all.

Stay cool Supa. We are having a record heat wave here in the Washington DC Metro area. Hope it ends soon.

Hugs,
SonDan

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