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 – 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.
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.
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 An the third and final Motown release is all Smokey songs originally made hits by The Miracles other Motown artists.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.
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.