|1. Upside Down|
|3. Friend to Friend|
|4. I'm Coming Out|
|5. Have Fun (Again)|
|6. My Old Piano|
|7. Now That You're Gone|
|8. Give Up|
I remember the occasion just like it was yesterday. It was the summer of 1980 and I was 10 years old (now I AM showing my age!). "Upside Down" could be heard virtually everywhere - and it was a song that was blasted from radios and stereos. It was the coolest record I'd heard and I was hooked. Even now, this slice of Ross/Chic perfection sounds fresh, youthful and vibrant.
If we go back to 1980, we know that Ms Ross was already a superstar in her own right. Some have written that she needed to bring her 'flagging' career up to date. It's true - she'd been absent from the Billboard pop top ten charts for a few years. However, it's worth remembering that "The Boss" album certified Gold in the US the year before.
It was left for Diana to team up with the hottest R&B producers of the day - Bernard Edwards and Nile Rogers. "I'm Coming Out" was a born out of conversations Diana had with Edwards and Rogers. It became Diana's personal declaration of desire and independence. Her vocal performance here was inspired, vivid and spot on. All those who harp on about Diana's lack of vocal prowess need to listen to both versions this track - they'll soon be silenced!
It was a few years later that I discovered that the released version of "Diana" was not the original Chic mix. Like many fans, my curiosity bubbled for years. Here's my take on which tracks are better - released version or Chic version:
UPSIDE DOWN - Released mix
TENDERNESS - Chic mix
FRIEND TO FRIEND - Released mix
I'M COMING OUT - Released mix
HAVE FUN - Chic mix
MY OLD PIANO - Released mix
NOW THAT YOU'RE GONE - Can't decide!
GIVE UP - Chic mix - what a gusty vocal performance!
Were Motown right to tamper with Bernard and Nile's handy work? That's not for me to say. They took all the elements of the original and produced a `radio-friendly' album. The main differences with the remix are that the overall production is smoother, slicker and more sophisticated - just what you'd expect from such a crucial Ross release. With the remix, you can virtually hear each instrument, and Diana's evocative soprano is the icing on the cake. The Chic mix, however, showcases a raw, spontaneous energy and Diana had never sounded stronger vocally. To me, it has an arty clubhouse feel to it, and I can see why Motown opted to play it safe.
Both versions make for fascinating listening - I found myself constantly flipping between the two versions!
As for the "Diana: Dance CD", it contains some truly RARE tracks that will delight any Ross fan, especially:
YOUR LOVE IS SO GOOD FOR ME - 12-inch version
TOP OF THE WORLD
WHAT YOU GAVE ME - get those flares out and boogie!
YOU WERE THE ONE - hey, someone at Motown ought to re-release this funky little ditty - it's awesome!
I think that this DELUXE edition is an essential purchase for Diana's fans - past and present. This gatefold, double CD is lavishly packaged, with candid essays from Nile Rogers, Russ Terrana (re-mixer) and Brian Chin. And of course, Diana looks breathtaking beautiful both on the front cover, and the glorious colour centrefold spread.
"DIANA" - that perennial classic - just got better!
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