Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cusp Song of the Day: Up the Ladder to the Roof

Don’t you want to go up the ladder to the roof?

In 1970, Diana Ross departed the Supremes. Those of us who have enjoyed the fabulous Mary Wilson as a Supreme and a solo act over the past 30 years or so may wonder why she didn’t take over lead vocals. Still, as the last original member of the group, she kept continuity and so much more.

 “Up the Ladder to the Roof,” from the Supremes album Right On, was the first single to feature the new lineup: lead singer Jean Terrell with Cindy Birdsong and Mary. The song was produced by Frank Wilson and written by Vince DiMirco, who also plays guitar.

I love the purity and depth of Jean Terrell’s voice. She is much more than a Diana Ross sound-alike; the four top-20 Supremes singles on which she sang lead stand as some of the group’s best work across their many lineups.

In Chapter 9 of Cusp, Karen and Mark are spending more and more time together, and he is teaching her all about “the girls.” Because it’s the ‘70s and Glee is not yet on the air, his fascination with the Supremes and Diana Ross doesn’t raise the flag with her that it surely would today. She studies hard at “S.U. (Supremes University),” in part because she sees him as a potential boyfriend. Poor, deluded thing!

The song hit number 10 on the pop charts.

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