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Pop Music Review : Wilson Packs Supreme Punch

August 27, 1987|CONNIE JOHNSON

There's nothing like a tell-all book and the public's willingness to cheer on the underdog to put a rock icon solidly back on the comeback trail. It worked for Tina Turner, and judging by the enthusiastic response Mary Wilson drew from a full house at the Roxy on Tuesday, it's working for the former Supreme.

Wilson's career probably should have collapsed the day Diana Ross left the Supremes, since Wilson's role within that popular '60s group was minimal by comparison. But displaying the same survival tactics as Turner, Wilson has reemerged as a still-glamorous performer, and if she hasn't hit on contemporary material to match her early Supremes hits, at least she has enough on-stage charisma to hold her fans' attention until she does find a winning sound.

Sporting a variety of costumes--the most successful was a sparkly white bustier and see-through petticoat--the author of last year's "Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme" performed several of the group's hits from the glory years, including "Baby Love," "Where Did Our Love Go" and "Love Child." She sounded better on non-Supremes material, such as the Broadway show tune "How Lucky Can You Get" and "Free Again/I Will Survive," both of which gave her a chance to flex her vocal muscles.

While Wilson isn't a particularly strong singer, she is better than her former backup role would suggest. If she can hit on that combination of great timing, material and producers--as Turner did--there's no reason why Wilson can't step up to that next level on the comeback path.

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