Album of the Day: Diana Ross, "Diana"

Album of the Day: Diana Ross, “Diana”

Diana Ross
Diana (Motown CD 530927-2)

In 1980 a particular sound stood out above all in the world charts and in the discos: the New Yorkers Chic, with their refined mix of soul, funk and r&b thanks to the ability of Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards not only reaped incredible successes in their own name but had gave consistent hits to various artists (Sister Sledge and Sheila B. among others), provoking a plethora of imitators, from our own Change to Stacy Lattisaw and dozens of other clones.

Diana Ross, former queen of soul thanks to the Supremes, had also had an excellent career as a soloist (just think of hits like “Do You Know Where You're Going To” and “Love Hangover”) but for a few years things have not they seemed to be doing well in terms of sales; she therefore decided to turn to the two Midas kings of the moment to create a tailor-made album for her, which Rodgers and Edwards did with enthusiasm and her usual skill.

Unfortunately the two were not used to taking orders from anyone, least of all from the angry autocrat Berry Gordy, patron
of the Motown empire, who didn't like that two musicians from outside Detroit had complete artistic control of a record he released. He didn't like the album at all, he declared it a failure and even excluded Rodgers and Edwards from the final mix, putting his hands into it as he pleased (only a few years ago the original version was published, obviously better).

Naturally, his predictions of failure were absolutely unfounded: how could a record that contained songs like “Upside down”, “I'm Coming Out”, “Have Fun (Again)”, “Give up” and “My Old Piano” fail? “?
In fact, the album was the biggest success of Diana's entire career, and is still among the best-selling Soul albums of all time.
Ross's career was revitalized in a flash and Gordy had to swallow his pride as he once again saw how the two New York magicians' skill had worked on international audiences.

Diana never actually had a great voice, we are light years away from the wonders of Aretha Franklin or Chaka Khan, but she certainly doesn't lack class, managing to slide on the sinuous rhythmic carpets of the Chic with nonchalance and elegance.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.