Sunday, June 29, 2014
Turntable triumphs is our new series which looks at key albums with lasting impact.
Staring from the cover of 1980's diana was Diana Ross, the Diana Ross Michael Jackson would spend a great deal of money to look like in his initial rounds of plastic surgery.
Motown legend Diana Ross was no stranger to the charts. Before she ever went solo, she'd already sang lead on 12 number one hits. Her solo career would bring her six more number ones including one from this album.
The seventies had offered many disco classics but disco was a dying genre when Ross went into the studio with Chic's Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers. What they came up with was . . . interesting.
Diana would remix the album -- to Edwards and Rogers dismay.
But Diana's remixes would be hits while the other albums the two men produced in 1980 stumbled.
Diana took the groove and made it crisp. The music was crisp, her vocals were crisp.
It was a new sound.
In fact, it was the sound that would launch the 80s dance music genre. In different ways, Madonna, Shannon and so many other artists would spend the rest of the decade aping what Diana did with this album.
"Hey everybody!" she hollers on track five. "I want you to have fun!" And then the music kicks in as "Have Fun Again" kicks off. "Have Fun Again" is to Diana what "Holiday" is to Madonna, a lighter, bouncier effort that may have no lasting lyrical impact but is infectious as hell.
Then zip down the keyboard for what becomes "My Old Piano." A slower groove follows with one of Diana's deeper and most sure vocals, "Now That You're Gone."
It's one of the most powerful songs on the album and leads in to "Give Up" ("you're love to me") which makes for four incredible tracks in a row.
And, in the United States, not one of them was a top 100 hit.
They're great tracks.
But two tracks on side one stood out more.
"Upside Down" opens the album and would race up the charts to number one of the pop singles chart. Also charting, at number five on the pop charts, was "I'm Coming Out."
Sandwiched between the two were "Tenderness" and "Friend To Friend."
It was a tour de force and remains one of Diana's strongest albums as well as one of the best albums of 1980.
The beauty of this album is that it not only contains two monster hits you already know, it's got six more tracks and any of the six could have and should have charted. Most of all, diana is a turntable triumph.
This is the second article in this series. We previously noted Carly Simon's Anticipation.