Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Diana Ross - Diana (1980)

Note: the CD I listened to was the 2003 two disc Deluxe Edition.

A fantastic album because someone had the brilliant idea of having Ross team up with Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of Chic.  A match made in NYC disco/funk heaven - Chic grooving hard with Ross floating above it all.  It might be Ross' best album or not, but either way, this is the only Ross CD on my shelves.  Even Rolling Stone liked it, calling it "gymnastic dance rock" (and meaning it as a compliment).

The huge draw of this Deluxe Edition was the inclusion of the "Original Unreleased Chic Mix."  If you want the whole story on that, it is available elsewhere, including the autobiographies of Rodgers and Ross.  Suffice it to say that someone was unhappy with the original Chic mix, so Motown had the thing remixed before it was released.  The released mix sounds like a Diana Ross album and the unreleased Chic mix sounds like a Chic album, so no big surprise there, but it's fun to hear both versions.  Liner notes include lengthy quotes from both Nile Rodgers (original producer) and Russ Terrana (who remixed the album for release).  Basically, it wasn't a battle of wills so much as a desire to make money selling a more commercial product. Remember, disco was on its last legs when this was released and the grass is always greener, etc.  Like everybody, I have my own preferences (see below), but what I question is the sequencing.  I can't imagine burying I'm Coming Out at the end of side one.  That Rodgers guitar scratch over Tony Thompson's booming drums shoulda been side one, track one (and that's how it is usually sequenced at this house: 4, 2, 3, 7, 1, 5, 6, 8)  Having said that, I will concede that Give Up is the best choice for ending this thing on a high note (figuratively, not literally).

The second disc oddly consists of absolutely no music related to the 1980 album. Aside: what kind of world are we living in when extended 12" versions of Upside Down and I'm Coming Out were never created?!?  I guess the same world where Ross never won a Grammy.  ☹  Nonetheless, we're treated here to the disco-oriented sides from 1976-79 that led to Diana, and it is full of delights, including many 12" versions and unreleased songs. I'd rather have those than demos or thrown together b-sides so thanks for that.  You also get a lot of bang for your buck:  Disc 1 is 16 tracks, 72 minutes; disc 2 is 13 tracks, 79 minutes.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #2
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #1 (8 weeks)
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #3

Tracks:  On the original album, I'm a fan of almost all the songs.  I rarely skip tracks, but if I do, it's usually Friend To Friend and Now That You're Gone

Here's my mix preferences of the 1980 music, if any:

Upside Down

Friend To Friend

I'm Coming Out
Have Fun (Again)

My Old Piano
Now That You're Gone

Give Up

On the second disc (bonus material), the standout track is a 10½ minute DJ-only extended alternate version of the sultry, exquisite 1976 single Love Hangover.  Also worth a listen: Top Of The World, the disco-tastic What You Gave Me, and I Ain't Been Licked.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD:  The two huge singles from this album remind me of bus trips to summer swim meets.  Our coach was a chain-smoking alcoholic who knew next to nothing about swimming, but he cared so much for us as people that his shortcomings didn't matter much and never became an issue to swimmers or our parents.

1 comment:

  1. Mark, as I tweeted to you, I have this one queued up for May when it hits its 35th anniversary. Yikes. I gave it a listen yesterday to work on that review and I have to agree with you on the split of which mixes are better. The hits sound better, to me, with the released versions.