The Magnificent 7

by: The Supremes with the Four Tops

Neither the Supremes nor the Four Tops were at a commercial peak when producer Frank Wilson brought them together for these duets, so the pairing was something of a way to goose the groups toward hits. Wilson didn't produce The Magnificent 7 -- its title a clever reference to the group's combined numbers -- instead having Ashford & Simpson, Duke Browner, and Clay McMurray produce four songs apiece for the LP. Apart from the opening song and lead single "Knock on My Door," the bulk of the album is devoted to glitzy covers of contemporary hits, whether it's from the Motown stable ("Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing"), the Fifth Dimension ("Stoned Soul Picnic"), Phil Spector ("River Deep, Mountain High"), or Sly Stone ("Everyday People"). The three sets of producers mesh well, offering subtle hints of trademark flair -- particularly the lushness of the Ashford & Simpson productions -- but the focus is entirely on Jean Terrell and Levi Stubbs, who tear into these familiar tunes and make them feel like much more than a Motown hits revue. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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