Sunday, June 9, 2013

Diana Ross - Ross

Following 1982’s Silk Electric (click here for that review), Diana Ross came out with Ross in 1983. This was actually the second time she used just her last name for an album title - the first time being in 1978. This album went to number 59 in Australia, number 57 in Canada, number 44 in the UK, number 32 on the US Billboard Hot 200, number 27 in the Netherlands and number 14 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

Side one begins with “That’s How You Start Over”, written by Ed Sanford and Michael McDonald. It starts with a simple piano before a full on R&B dance groove joins in. The lyrics speak to moving on after heartbreak and getting back out in the game.

Things slow down a bit with “Love Will Make It Right”, penned by Donald Fagen. The music is fairly stripped down, consisting of mostly keyboards and a light percussion. I honestly never would have thought of pairing these two musicians together, but it works rather well.

“You Do It” keeps the tempo into the mid-range on this expression of love.

“Pieces of Ice”, the first single, charted at number 73 in Australia, number 46 in the UK, number 31 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 17 on the US Billboard Dance chart, and number 15 on the US Billboard R&B chart. The song picks up on the popular synth-syncopated rhythms of the time yet it feels a bit held back or restrained. I would have liked to have heard it kicked up a bit to really make it an irresistible dance number.

Side two starts with “Let’s Go Up”; this third single stalled at number 77 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 52 on the US Billboard R&B charts. I am surprised this danceable track did not do better on the charts; I like its exuberance and energy. Maybe it would have done better as the lead single from the album.

“Love or Loneliness” is the first of two tracks on the album written and produced by Ray Parker Jr. and the B-side to the second single. The lyrics paint an end-of-the-date scenario where a woman invites a man back to her place to spend the night, only to wrestle with a nagging question in the back of her mind.

Parker also wrote and produced “Up Front”; as the second single it charted at number 79 in the UK and number 60 on the US Billboard R&B chart. This bouncy number is about being open and honest in a relationship; communication is key.

The album closes with the empowering “Girls”, a track Ross co-wrote with Bill Wray and Marc Jordan. It was used for the B-side to the third single. This is another up-beat dance track, closing out a strong second side.

1983’s Ross was considered a commercial and critical failure back in the day. RCA did release it on CD in 1984 and again in a reissue in 2005; however it has not yet surfaced as a digital download.

I had not heard any of these tracks until doing my review; I have to say that it is not a bad album really. The songs here are mid-range R&B/pop fare with solid production value. I did not find a clunker in the set. I guess because Diana Ross was such a huge super-star after the 60’s and 70’s that it was expected that she would knock them out of the park every time. Sometimes that just does not happen.

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