I'm so there! I can't wait! In just a few days, Disney will present The Princess & The Frog, the first hand-drawn illustrated film in the company's history to showcase an African American princess! Most movie-goers won't know that way back in 1967, Disney almost had three black American princesses named Diana, Mary and Flo! Okay, it was Motown who had plans to present Diana Ross And The Supremes Sing Disney Classics, a collection of classic songs from the Disney catalogue that reached back from the earliest to the most recent films of the that day. And why not? The Supremes sang everything else! They sang Rodgers & Hart, Country Western & Pop, A Bit of Liverpool, and Sam Cooke too!
For almost 10 years, Diana Ross and The Supremes recorded scores of songs in almost every style of music imaginable! It is said that half of their recorded output still remains unreleased ~ locked in the Motown vaults! Entire concept albums were recorded! The covers were shot and designed! They were ready to roll and then......the finished products were shelved! So it was withSings Disney Classics! Berry Gordy calculated and controlled every professional step the group made, and every record release was carefully considered! In retrospect, it's clear that the right decisions weren't always made!
Some projects were totally aborted; Around The World With The Supremes intended to showcase familiar international tunes, but the girls never laid down the tracks! A Tribute To The Girls was intended as a nod to other girl-groups who came before them, but only a few songs were recorded. Back in 1965, “the girls” switched from regular Motown fare to recording an album of adult standards for a project called There's A Place For Us. It took over 35 years for this project to be released by Hip-O Select in 2004. However, much of the gold from the Motown vaults has already been mined in recent years in one way or another in various box sets, compilations, and special “from the vaults” releases. In fact, all the known recorded songs for Sings Disney Classics (minus three) have already been released in the aforementioned formats, but the diehard fans haven't given up hope for a full and complete CD release. There's always been talk! And with the release of The Princess & The Frog, the rumors are starting up again! So, there's hope!
Legend has it that Diana Ross And The Supremes Sing Disney Classics was not one of Gordy's own brainstorm crossover ideas. It's said that Miss Ross wanted to do an album for children so recording began in January of 1967 while Florence Ballard was still a member of the group. In one of the best (and most fun) recordings from the project, Ross offers a delicious rendition of Whistle While You Work (from Snow White) as she references Mary and Flo in much the same way she did on their chartbuster hit Back In My Arms Again, except this time Flo injects some wicked humor of her own. By 1967, there was nothing fanciful or fairytale-like about The Supremes real lives with each other, and by July of the that year, Florence was dismissed from the group. Recording for this particular project was temporarily halted but resumed by September with Ross now calling out to Ballard's replacement, Cindy Birdsong on Heigh Ho (also from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs). It didn't matter that Ballard had sung on half of the album while Birdsong (supposedly) sang on the rest of it (at least that's what the public was supposed to think). With Ballard's departure, the group name officially became DIANA ROSS and The Supremes! The project was eventually finished with 15 songs total but like so much of The Supremes's (and other Motown artists) material, it headed straight to a vault shelf! It wasn't because the material didn't measure up to standard – many a Motown classic lay at waste in the vaults!
The songs are: "Heigh-Ho" (from Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs), "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes" (from CInderella), "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" (from Song Of The South), "When You Wish Upon A Star" (from Pinocchio), "It Won't Be Long Till Christman" (from The Happiest Millionaire), "Toyland" (from Babes In Toyland), "Chim-Chim Cher-ee" (from Mary Poppins), "Whistle While You Work" (from Snow White), "The Land Of Make Believe" (from Peter Pan), "Some Day My Prince Will Come" (from Snow White), "A Spoonful Of Sugar" (from Mary Poppins), "I've Got No Strings" (from Pinocchio), "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" (from Mary Poppins) "The Ballad Of Davy Crockett" (from Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier).
It's been said that “Bippity Bobbity Boo” (from Cinderella) was recorded for inclusion on the album and maybe there's an instrumental track, but no vocals have been discovered for it yet! The Disney flick, The Happiest Millionaire had not been released when recording wrapped for this album, so it's thought that the song, “It Won't Be Long Till Christmas” was recorded to cash in on any hopes that the film might be a Christmas hit! Eventually, three songs from Sings Disney Classics was released on the Motown lp, Diana Ross & The Supremes 25th Anniversay (1986), a collection of hits, rarities and never before released songs from the group. Eight more songs were released the next year on Diana Ross & The Supremes: The Never Before Released Masters (1987) a hidden treasure trove of 27 unreleased Supremes gems from the vaults. “Chim-Chim Cheree, A Spoon Full Of Sugar (both Mary Poppins) and “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” (from Song of the South) are the remaining three that have not seen the light of day! Yet!
When you listen closely to the songs, you'll hear the beat of You Can't Hurry Love, snatches of riffs from You Keep Me Hanging On, even Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart! The songs are fantastic! Mary's does a solo! Ballard's having fun! Cindy's just there! And Ross is giving it her most dreamy best! With the exception of the remaining three vocals listed above, the wait has basically been over for awhile, but the time is right now for the release of the whole total project on one remastered CD!
The Jungle Book! Mary Poppins! As a child, I had all the Disney soundtracks (whether I played them or not!). Imagine The Supremes in the mix! I would have lived for this as a kid! For some of us, what would our childhoods have been like without Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck memories? As a grown man, I'm waiting with baited breath for The Princess & The Frog! Some things never change! I hope Hip-O Select/Motown is waiting, looking and listening, too! Keep those rumors flowing! Maybe they'll hear them in through the grapevine!
Kurtis, a devotee of the Disney musical catalogue posted a few of the Supremes songs over on the blog, Covering The Mouse! Here's the link: covering the mouse