Today’s POP RESCUE is the 1980 tenth studio album Diana by American singer Diana Ross, but would this LP turn your life Upside Down? Read on…
This 8 track LP opens with huge hit and lead single Upside Down, with its signature guitar from Nile Rodgers and funky bassline from Bernard Edwards. Diana’s vocals hang perfectly off the song, teasing each line with great ease. This is such a classic disco hit, and is flawless. Unsurprisingly it gave her a #2 UK hit.
This is followed by Tenderness, again fuelled by a great disco beat and bass, and joined by strings. Diana’s vocals are softer here, although she rules the song, keeping her backing singers in perfect company. It’s not as catchy as the previous song, but it’s close. This track reached #72 in the UK in 1982.
Friend To Friend is up next, and this starts off quite mellow, with Diana able to show off her soft, warm vocals over a gentle rimshot best. Bass is heavy here, leading her through the melody. This is a gentle island in the midst of a sea of disco.
Side One closes with the hit I’m Coming Out, another classic Diana Ross song. Disco is laid on thick here from Nile and Bernard, complete with trumpet and trombones. There’s plenty of space in this song though, allowing Diana’s vocals to sound so effortless and sharp. The song was the final UK single, giving her a #13 hit.
Side Two opens with with the ‘hey everybody!‘ of Have Fun (Again). This song takes a little while to get used to, as it’s not such a smooth song as the earlier songs here, and is musically fairly simple, even if it does have a false ending.
My Old Piano follows this, and having thought I didn’t know this song, I instantly remember hearing it before. Essentially this is a song about Diana having ‘a ball with my old piano‘ … even if the old piano is somewhat buried in the funky bass, strings, and guitar sections until the final push where it gets a good airing duelling with Nile on guitar. This cheery number was the second UK single, giving her a #5 hit.
Now That You’re Gone follows this, with gentle breathy ‘uh‘ vocals from Diana as a shower of plucked strings lead us into the first verse. Diana’s vocals match the pizzicato of the strings, until she finally gets to sing in the chorus. To be honest, this song is fairly repetitive and after a while it seems to drag after the pizzicato novelty has worn off.
Aptly, the album closes with Give Up. It bursts open with a ‘wow!‘ and a fast beat with a full-on disco return, Diana’s vocals are higher but perfectly wielded, and as the song progresses she gets to show off her wider vocal range. At times it sounds almost Jackson 5 in places.
Where is Diana Ross now?
Diana has consistently released albums and singles in the UK until 2005. She has found intermittent success with her singles and albums, although her career retrospectives (of which there are many) often garner her the greatest commercial success.
In 1995, she found renewed success with her album Take Me Higher, reaching #10 in the UK album chart.
This album was expanded and re-released in the UK in 2001, and as a double CD in the US in 2003 including a number of mixes and bonus tracks.
Her most recent UK single was When You Tell Me That You Love Me, a pointless cover of her earlier hit, but with Irish pop leeches Westlife. This gave them a #2 hit in 2005. In 2012 Diana received her first Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement, and whilst showing no signs of slowing down – she has continued to tour and perform.
In 2015 she taken a second residency for a series of regular shows in Las Vegas, USA.
POP RESCUE RATING:
Over all, this album, aside from two songs, is absolutely brilliant. Now That You’re Gone and Have Fun (Again) are the weaker tracks here, but the rest of the album certainly makes up for it.
Definitely an album that deserves to be in any 80s or disco fan’s collection due to the unmistakeable musicianship and production by Rodgers and Edwards, and their unique Chic style.
- POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 5 / 5
- 1980 UK CHART PEAK: #12, certified Gold.
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.00 from Fordham Car Boot Sale.