Sunday, June 28, 2020

Kat's Korner: Diana Ross hits the dance floor

Kat: Diana Ross has a new album, SUPERTONIC MIXES.  It comes out in physical form -- CD and crystal clear vinyl -- on July 24th but its available now as a digital album.  The forthcoming album, on advance sales only, is already the number one selling MOTOWN album at AMAZON.

Open uri20200414 24264 1uas2k0?1586883757

Diana's remix albums have all been impressive, but, if I'm being honest, 1994's DIANA EXTENDED remains my favorite.  The cover was something to see.  The jean shorts, the tank top, the hair, the sexy facial expression.  It's iconic.

The album itself was pretty amazing as well.  "The Boss," for me, remains the track the album should be known for.  David Morales did a major remix on that Ashford & Simpson classic.  The opening which is just the piano chord -- the opening of the remix -- and Diana's gorgeous vocal resets the song.  

It's time for another remix album for a number of reasons -- including the string of number one dance hits Diana's had in the last two years -- remixes of "The Boss," "Love Hangover," "Touch Me In The Morning" and an "Upside Down/I'm Coming Out" medley all hit number one -- four number one hits in less than 24 months.  

This go round, Eric Kupper's producing the remixes "from the original multi-track masters taken from the MOTOWN vaults" -- as the MOTOWN press release noted.  He's working with nine tracks -- the four number ones she's had since the start of 2018 plus "Remember Me," "Surrender," "It's My House," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "No One Gets The Prize."

Did you notice a thread in the five?

Maybe not.  But the reason that they and the recent remix of "The Boss" and the 1994 remix of "The Boss" work so well is that they are solid material.  And, by the way, that was a hint about what you should have noticed.  Solid.

Like: Solid.  Asarock.  

Ashford & Simpson.  Nick and Valerie were a great songwriting team (Nick passed away in 2011).  They were also a great production team.  

You can't talk about popular music in the second half of the 20th century without talking about Ashford & Simpson.  Like Holland-Dozier-Holland or Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Ashford  and Simpson provided a soundtrack to our lives.

"Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Clouds," "I'm Every Woman," "Cry Like A Baby," "Your Precious Love," "Somethings You Never Get Used To," "You're All I Need To Get By," "Good Lovin' Ain't Easy To Come By," "What You Gave Me," "Found A Cure," "Didn't You Know You'd Have To Cry Sometime," "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)," "Send It," "Don't Cost You Nothing," "Is It Still Good To Ya," "Stuff Like That," "The Boss," "Surrender," "Remember Me," "It's My House," "Landlord," "Street Corner," "High Rise," "Count Your Blessings," "I'll Be There For You," "Outta The World," "Uh-Uh, Ooh-Ooh, Look Out (Here It Comes)" and, of course, "Solid" -- all are songs -- all our hits that are written by Ashford & Simpson.

So the fact that five of the remix tracks on the new album are Ashford & Simpson songs that were also produced by Ashford & Simpson gives Eric Kupper a lot to work with.  Ashford & Simpson produced three of Diana's albums -- her solo debut entitled DIANA ROSS, SURRENDER and THE BOSS. More than any other producers she worked with, Ashford & Simpson got the mystique and power of Diana.

"It's My House" and "No One Gets The Prize" are especially effective as remixes.  

As I noted this weekend, I've been listening to Diana Ross on the  LET THE MUSIC PLAY: SUPREME RARITIES: MOTOWN LOST & FOUND 1960-1969.  And if they're looking for another remix project, I'd argue some Diana Ross and the Supremes songs -- hits and others -- would do well with a remix.  I'm not talking about the 12 songs that hit number one.  They could be interesting as remixes ("Someday We'll Be Together" was remixed on the DIANA EXTENDED album).  I'm talking about some of the songs like "MacArthur Park" that are solid tracks but don't have the 'pop' -- the snap, the grab you -- that we expect from MOTOWN songs.  A remix that brought the drums up in the mix -- or maybe utilized a new drum track -- could be very interesting.

But that's the future.  Right now we have SUPERTONIC MIXES and it's a grand celebration of the four number one dance hits Diana's had in the last 18 months.  As that alone, it works. But it also works as an album, one that holds together and feels cohesive.  Make a point to check it out.