The Force Behind The Power (1991)

“When the moment comes I’ll be your dancer, I’ll be your singer and your song…”

Diana Ross kicked off the 1990s with The Force Behind The Power, her second studio album under her second contract with Motown Records.  After leaving Motown the first time for a stint with RCA Records, Miss Ross returned to the label late in the decade and released Workin’ Overtime, an album she no doubt believed would win her a legion of young fans and return her to the top of the charts.  That didn’t happen; Workin’ Overtime was her lowest charting solo album ever, and critics were not kind to the youthful R&B sound she and producer Nile Rodgers had gone for.  Though she’d turned in some good vocals on the album and it wasn’t really the disaster a lot of people have painted it out to be, the message was certainly loud and clear that Diana Ross needed to get back to basics a bit.

That’s exactly what The Force Behind The Power attempts to do; the album features producing/writing credits including Stevie Wonder and James Anthony Carmichael (who’d co-produced her hit “Missing You”), as well as Peter Asher, known for his work with James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt.  These names are significant — Wonder and Carmichael (Lionel Richie’s longtime collaborator) certainly help remind listeners of Diana’s legacy as Queen of Motown, while Asher’s classy pop productions are the kind of adult contemporary material many fans missed on Workin’ Overtime.  The result is an album miles away from her last one; more similar to 1987’s Red Hot Rhythm & Blues, this is a work that focuses on strong material suited to Diana Ross’s voice, allowing it to naturally display range rather than forcing it unnecessarily.

The Force Behind The Power would emerge as one of Diana Ross’s best albums in years; the only real fault is a lack of fire in a few songs — something that would be corrected with her next studio album, 1995’s Take Me Higher.  Unfortunately, it was not the hit it deserved to be…at least, not in the United States.  First single “When You Tell Me That You Love Me” cracked the R&B and AC charts, but somehow didn’t get any play on the pop side.  The song was a massive hit in the UK, though, hitting #2 and becoming her biggest single there since “Chain Reaction.”  While that song was followed by several other top 40 singles overseas, not a single track from the album managed to become a hit in the United States.  Perhaps, as was the case on 1971’s Surrender and 1977’s Baby It’s Me, there were just too many strong songs for the folks at Motown to just choose one and focus on making a hit.  If that’s the case, it’s a shame, because there are several works here that could have become Diana Ross classics for the public at large, rather than just for fans.

***

1.  Change Of Heart:  The album opens with its strongest track; this is an upbeat pop song that is one of the best songs Diana Ross had recorded in years — and really among the best of her solo career.  I’ve read that this was considered for release as the debut single, and that at one point the album was going to be named Change Of Heart.  If only; this would have been a dynamic first single that could have easily found success on the pop and R&B listings had it been well-promoted and had Miss Ross performed it live on television appearances in the United States (there’s a video floating around online of her performing it live in Tokyo, and it’s masterful).  The fact that it wasn’t released to radio at all is extremely puzzling; this really is a perfect pop record featuring a sterling vocal performance.  Written by Terry Britten and Graham Lyle — the men behind Tina Turner’s massive comeback hit “What’s Love Got To Do With It” — the song is a swinging mid-tempo number with a shimmering, classy instrumental and catchy, simple lyric.  Diana’s vocal performance is superb; she sounds completely engaged and in command here, and she manages to show off some range and power without ever oversinging or murdering the song’s melody.  It’s a thrill to hear her go for — and nail — the repeated high notes at the end of the song, starting around 3:22; her ad-libbing here is reminiscent of her work at the end of “Love Child” from way back in 1968!  The rest of the performance is subtle and playful; the song makes full use of her smooth and sexy lower register (allowing her to add in some nice, soulful flourishes during the verses) and shows off her crisp, clear soprano on the chorus.  This is the song that should have returned Diana Ross to the top of the pop charts; it should have also garnered her a Grammy nomination for Female Pop Vocal Performance — it’s that good.  Motown would miss a lot of opportunities during Diana’s second stint with the company, but this is one of the big ones that got away.

2.  When You Tell Me That You Love Me:  This is the most famous song off of the album, as it has proven to have a long life overseas; not only did it hit #2 on the charts when it was released in 1991, but it hit #2 again in the UK in 2005 when British group Westlife recorded it with Diana.  The success of both versions has made it one of Miss Ross’s signature songs in England; strangely, it mirrors her other two major UK hits, “I’m Still Waiting” and “Chain Reaction,” in that it was only a very minor success in the United States (the release topped out at #37 on the R&B chart).  It’s unfortunate that this song was ignored in the US; it’s really a lovely, classic ballad, and the kind of song that Diana Ross — when she wants to — delivers like nobody else.  Her performance here is strong; the song requires range and power, and Miss Ross certainly delivers, especially during the last chorus (at around 3 minutes in, after the guitar solo) when the song changes key and Diana really starts belting.  The production, by Peter Asher, is pop at its more romantic and slick; if there’s any issue to be had with the song, it’s that it’s almost a little too slick.  The best Diana Ross ballads — songs like “Missing You” and her work on The Wiz soundtrack — have a soulful edge that brings out a warmth in her voice that pure pop music sometimes misses; this was the case on Diana’s final recordings with Michael Masser.  There’s a little bit of that here, although it’s still a strong recording.  It was also a nice way to demonstrate that nearly 20 years after “Touch Me In The Morning,” Diana Ross hadn’t lost her ability to sell a powerful ballad — especially since younger artists like Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston were dominating the charts with their own showy love songs.

3.  Battlefield:  An extremely enjoyable, almost classic Motown-ish number that gives Miss Ross a chance to channel the women who dominated finger-popping heartbreak songs as lead singer of the Supremes in the 1960s.  There are moments where Diana really sounds like she’s 20 years old again; listen to her sing, “Everything that can…has gone wrong” at around 1:50 in and you can hear the same woman who cried, “Love Is Here And Now You’re Gone” in 1967.  The instrumental track is an exciting mix of swirling strings, driving drums, and howling harmonica; the wash of female singers behind Diana is reminiscent of those that backed her on “Last Time I Saw Him” in 1974.  This song is a nice way of keeping the album a contemporary one while also reminding listeners of the musical contributions its singer had made over the past 30 years; it’s a great inclusion.

4.  Blame It On The Sun:  Back in 1977, Diana Ross covered Stevie Wonder’s “Too Shy To Say” on her Baby It’s Me LP; her sensitive performance atop the simple, piano-drive track was a standout and remains one of her great ballad performances.  Here is a case of Diana covering Stevie again; he’d first written and recorded the song “Blame It On The Sun” for 1972’s Talking Book.  Miss Ross turns in another tender, heartfelt performance here, although the song isn’t ultimately as strong as her earlier take on a Wonder composition.  This isn’t her fault; she sounds great and certainly seems to be deeply connected to the lyrics.  She particularly sounds appealing around the 3:00 mark, when she sighs heavily and really digs into the words.   The issue here lies in the production; the synth-heavy opening feels a little overdone and New Age-y, and probably would’ve been better served by simpler line consisting of a solo piano.  That said, I think the track sounds better as the song goes on, eventually featuring a dreamy element akin to the feeling of “Summertime” on Red Hot Rhythm & Blues.  This isn’t the strongest ballad on the album, but it’s a really good one; it again proves that Miss Ross was in fine voice during this time period.

5.  Heavy Weather:  This is an album standout, almost as strong as “Change Of Heart,” and a song that deserves far more recognition than it’s ever gotten.  This soulful number easily would have fit in with both Quiet Storm and smooth jazz radio playlists; I’m not sure if it was ever released to radio, but should have been, as it is a song that could have easily been recorded by Anita Baker or Sade, both of whom were extremely popular at the time.  The instrumental here is sterling and inventive; opening with storm sound effects and clips of weather forecasts, the tune melts into a mesmerizing groove made up of a bouncy bassline and shimmering keyboards.  Diana’s vocal performance here is far superior to most of her work through the 1980s and would stand as one of her best of the 1990s, too; she is relaxed and completely on-point with her interpretation of the lyrics, which echo those of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” — a connection that further strengthens this album’s ties to Miss Ross’s classic Motown days.  She even gets to do a little scatting at the 4:00 mark; it’s nice to hear her be loose and inventive in front of the microphone.  It’s not really surprising that Diana Ross would be successful with a song like this, given her history with jazz music dating back to 1972’s Lady Sings The Blues; what’s really surprising is that she didn’t record more songs like this — the sounds she creates on this track really is magic.

6.  The Force Behind The Power:  Stevie Wonder wrote and produced “The Force Behind The Power” for Diana; it’s a song she clearly loved and connected with, as she’s mentioned it several times in interviews and chose to perform it on “The Arsenio Hall Show” to promote the album.  The song is classic Stevie Wonder, from the “universal love” theme to the sparse, percussive track and the explosive choir of background voices.  It is, admittedly, a song better suited to him than to her; the rapid-fire pace of some of the lyrics and the quickness of the note-jumping are techniques Wonder is a master at, whereas Diana can sometimes get a little caught up, and in a just a few instances her voice sounds a bit wobbly.  That said, she sounds great on the majority of the track; her crystal-clear soprano is pure and rich during the verses, especially the first during the first minute-and-a-half of the song.  The song, like “Battlefield,” works well in terms of balancing a contemporary sound without turning off longtime, mature fans; certainly it goes a better job of marrying Diana’s vocal to a hip beat than many of the songs on Workin’ Overtime did.

7.  Heart (Don’t Change My Mind):  Diana Ross’s version of this song sounds almost identical to the 1984 version recorded by Barbra Streisand (for her Emotion) album; both are pure pop ballads featuring keyboards, big instrumental breaks, and tender lead vocals.  Both also happen to be a little slow and plodding; coming after six energetic, focused songs, this one brings The Force Behind The Power to a bit of a halt, and emerges as probably the least memorable ballad on the entire work.  That’s not to say it’s a bad recording; it’s not.  But it’s not nearly as strong as “When You Tell Me…,” “One Shining Moment,” or even “Blame It On The Sun” — those songs have a uniqueness and energy to them that this one doesn’t quite match.  Interestingly, it’s an early Diane Warren composition (co-written with Robbie Buchanan) and has a similar sound to some of the songs Warren would write for Diana almost ten years later for Every Day Is A New Day; “Someone That You Loved Before,” in particular, sounds like a close cousin of this earlier recording.  Again, this isn’t a misstep, but it lacks some of the fire of the other recordings on the work, which puts it a step behind.

8.  Waiting In The Wings:  A pleasant, shuffling R&B tune that’s another nice example of Diana giving the kind of classy, adult performance that was largely lacking on her previous studio album.  Her voice, indeed, sounds as good here as it does on any other track on the album; her clear, bell-like tone is front and center and she sounds like the confident and seasoned vocalist she is.  If anything, the track doesn’t quite match her ability as a vocalist; it’s a nice composition — the lyrics and melody are strong — but the production here doesn’t pack the kind of punch that tracks like “Change Of Heart” and “Heavy Weather” do.  Everything here aside from the lead vocal sounds a bit muted; the keyboard-dominated instrumental and background vocals bubble just under the surface, and perhaps had they been allowed a few peaks, the song would have gained just a little more momentum.  Of course, you don’t expect every single song on an album to be single-worthy (although, amazingly, this was released as a single, ahead of far more worthy songs!), and this is a worthy album track; again, Diana proves that her voice is as smooth as ever.

9.  One Shining Moment:  This is the best love ballad on the CD, and is one of the best ballads of Diana’s solo career; it was a top 10 hit in the UK, and deserved a shot as a single in the United States.  This is a more focused and accessible ballad than “When You Tell Me That You Love Me,” and had it followed a strong opening single like “Change Of Heart” to radio in the US, probably could have given Diana some traction in the pop market.  The composition itself is extremely catchy and relatable; the words of the chorus (“You’re my One Shining Moment, you are all my dreams come true…) are a natural soundtrack for weddings and anniversary parties, and the melody is memorable  and an easy one to sing along to.  But the real reason for the song’s success is Diana Ross’s sterling vocal performance; her voice is warm and appealing on the verses and her phrasing on the choruses is genius, as she punches the words just a touch, keeping them simple and sweet, precisely what the lyrics call for.  Of course, the song’s greatest thrill comes as Diana hits the bridge, right at 3:00 into the song.  Her voice soars as she sings, “I wake up with you on my mind…you light up my day…” and she continues to build until the climactic moment when she remarkably stretches up an entire octave during the word “say” at 3:23; this is one of the greatest single moments of Diana’s recording career, a demonstration of range and power that most casual fans (and critics) are completely unaware she’s capable of.  There are those who will forever compare Diana to singers like Aretha Franklin and Patti LaBelle, soulful ladies with a completely different approach to singing than Miss Ross; this, however, is a case of Diana unleashing her voice in exactly the same way that Aretha or Patti would, and doing it just as well.  Had this song been released as a single in the States and been at least somewhat of a hit, it probably could have gotten her a Grammy nomination; certainly it should have.  For those who believe Diana’s voice “limited” in range and ability, this song is definitive proof — like “Missing You” and “It’s My Turn” — that when it comes to really connecting to a lyric and letting her voice go when appropriate, there is nobody better than Diana Ross.

10.  You’re Gonna Love It:  If one song on The Force Behind The Power doesn’t quite fit with the others, this would be it; it’s the closest to a “hip hop” or “New Jack” sound that this album comes, and is far more youth-oriented than anything else featured here.  Being that it’s tacked on near the end of the album, it does feel awfully awkward; I wonder if Motown, Diana, or both worried about not having something a little “harder” and more contemporary on the album, and thus decided to include this song late in the game.  “You’re Gonna Love It” isn’t a bad song, although the track is a little bland and ultimately sounds a bit like the closing theme to “Living Single” (the Queen Latifah-starring TV show); it doesn’t require much of Miss Ross as a vocalist, but it’s a better fit for her than many of the songs on Workin’ Overtime in that her voice at least doesn’t sound strained or thin.  There are some nice moments for her, in particular her soulful “…and I can’t wait to show you…” at 2:00 in, but the dominant factor in this song is the beat, and thus it’s ultimately not as impressive as many of the songs which have come before it.

11.  If We Hold On Together:  Listed as a “bonus track” on the CD, this was actually recorded back in the late 1980s as the theme to the animated feature film The Land Before Time.  Though the song was not a hit in the US, it was enormous overseas, topping the charts in Japan and apparently becoming one of the most successful singles of all time there.  It’s interesting that it was included here, in that it hadn’t been a major hit in the States; that said, it certainly is a good fit for the album, as it’s a lovely pop ballad which is tailor-made for Miss Ross.  As on the album’s other ballads, Diana sounds completely in command here, and offers up a warm and well-rounded performance.  The film was a hit, which makes it interesting that the song didn’t do well on the charts; the writers are James Horner and Will Jennings, who would years later deliver a monster hit for Celine Dion with “My Heart Will Go On,” the theme to Titanic.  Whatever the case was, this is a good song, if not nearly the best film theme Diana would ever record (after all, this is the woman who gave us “It’s My Turn,” “Endless Love,” and “Theme From Mahogany“), and it certainly holds good memories for kids who fell in love with the animated dinosaurs of The Land Before Time (as evidenced by “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks choosing to sing the song on her season of the show).

You And I:  Released only on the international versions of the album, this is a pretty ballad that, in production, sounds a bit similar to “The Best Years Of Our Life,” a song Diana would record and release in a few years.  Miss Ross’s voice is pitch-perfect here; the song is somewhat challenging, changing from major to minor keys throughout, and she effortless glides along throughout the running time.  It’s not quite as memorable as the other ballads on the album, which might be why it was left off the Motown version of the album; there really isn’t a “hooky” chorus here, though it’s still a really pleasant listen.

No Matter What You Do:  Also included only on international versions of the album, this is a duet with singer Al B. Sure! that was pulled as a single from this album Private Times…And The Whole 9!  It was a solid R&B hit for the pair, reaching #4 on the chart, although it didn’t hit the pop listings at all; being that it was at least an R&B hit, it’s interesting that it wasn’t included on the US version of The Force…, although it may have had to do with the fact that Sure! was signed to Warner Bros. records, not Motown.  In any case, it’s a strong Quiet Storm ballad; both singers sound great, with Diana in particular giving a sexy, simmering performance with some fun spoken passages, soulful flourishes, and a few moments of vocal power (such as her nice “God bless the day that you came!”).

***

Though there is solace in the fact that The Force Behind The Power was such a success internationally, it is incredibly disheartening that Motown could not make the album a hit in Diana Ross’s home country.  It was, quite simply, the best album from start to finish that she’d released since 1980’s diana; the material was uniformly stronger and her voice in much better shape than on just about all of her remaining 1980s albums.  Along with that, there were standouts that could have made great singles; “Change Of Heart,” “One Shining Moment,” and “Heavy Weather” are all among the best of her solo work, and amazingly none were released as singles in the States.  Though the album plays it a little too safe at times — songs like “Heart (Don’t Change My Mind)” and “Waiting In The Wings” could have used some edge — Diana always sounds engaged and well-suited to the material.  Those songs are certainly as good as anything else hitting radio in 1991.

The good news is that The Force Behind The Power has aged extremely well; it’s an album that still sounds good today, and is a good record of what Miss Ross was still capable of 30 years into her recording career.  Only those with a strong bias against Diana Ross could listen to songs like “Change Of Heart” and “One Shining Moment” and not admit that there’s a huge amount of skill and talent evident there.  Of course, that skill and talent would be on better display with Diana’s next studio album for Motown, 1995’s Take Me Higher, which would be the crowning achievement of her second stint with Motown…but until then, The Force Behind The Power would serve as a huge improvement over much of what Miss Ross had been recording for the past decade.

Final Analysis:  4.5/5 (A “Shining Moment”)

Choice Cuts:  “Change Of Heart,” “One Shining Moment,” “Heavy Weather”

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59 comments on “The Force Behind The Power (1991)

  1. Yes ! Diana begins to shine for me at this time! I really liked the album. I felt like she was being true to herself and her voice again. Do you recall when your folks start to struggle with being cool ,and go off and do things they think will keep them hip? Well that is what Diana was like to me through the last few albums. Diana has returned home on this album ….. not just to the label (Motown), but to her true “voice.” Just like when your folks — realize its time to act their age!!!!!

    I love how she sounds on this album- her voice is rich with emotion and she sounds authentic and pure. I think the lack of energy – i seem to be detecting is merely her lack of confidence. It has been years — since she had received “rave reviews” for pretty much anything. Her image in the U.S and in Canada was a complete and utter mess- portrayed as a silly “Diva.” I think this took a real toll on her and how she projected.

    LOVE — Change of Heart and One Shinning Moment (especially the live version). Blame it on the Sun – is stunning for me ( yet I agree the intro is weak). I actually mix this version with the George Michael version and they sound stunning together!! The rich instrumentals of his version — match Diana voice amazingly well. Yet her phrasing is superb – over his !

    When YouTell Me …feels campy to me … a little to sugary and over gushy. All be it , she sounds excellent and the arrangement is elegant. I say her preform this song live – here in Toronto. She sang it outdoors—- and the audience jumped to their feet when she hit the climax of this song !! it was breath taking!

    With out a doubt….. this album was a salute to her older fan base …. a sort of ‘reach out’ as if to say she missed us as well. The older fans …. also began to “come home!”

    • Intersting idea that the lack of energy at times could be releated to Miss Ross’s confidence. If that’s true, it’s sad, since a woman of her talents and amazing career should never have a crisis of confidence!

      • I think she was taking a real beating. Even as a strong talented woman, she was not immune to the harsh character assignation she received. I really feel that her bad press – clogged the ears of many – who refused to “hear” her gifts!!! I think her lack of mega hits also weighed on her heavily. Staying on top can be very stressful for a persons ego.

  2. I’m really excited to read this review, because I’ve never listened to this album before! I have only heard the title track. Now I know I have something great to look forward to. You are a terrific and very natural music critic!

    • Oh my gosh! In a way, I’m jealous — how great to get to discover this music all over again :) Let us know your thoughts when you listen to it — I think you’ll be very happy with a lot the songs and performances here!

  3. I still remember when this album came out – record stores had it displayed in their windows and it was such a relief to see such a pretty cover photo of Diana after that unfortunate Workin’ Overtime shot.

    It’s too bad that Motown didn’t seem to have the influence it used to at this time, since there were indeed plenty of hit singles on this album (if marketed correctly). I am not sure I agree that “Change of Heart” would have been the pop smash; it certainly could have done well on AC. I believe part of the problem here was that there wasn’t a clear first single at all.

    I remember reading that “When you tell me that you Love Me” was the first single, but then Diana performed the title track instead on Arsenio, which was confusing. Perhaps, if she has done the previous song on all her TV appearances, the public would have requested it more?

    Frankly, “One Shining Moment”, “Heavy Weather, and “Battlefield” are my favorite tracks on this album and all could have been very successful on radio at the time….if Arista had released this album, I bet Diana would have enjoyed top ten singles again.

    • I don’t know — I can just “hear” the hit in “Change Of Heart” — I really believe with the right campaign, it could have been THE song to push this album stateside. I’m glad you like “Heavy Weather,” too — it really is a great, underappreciated song and performance.

      • Totally with you on “Change of Heart.” It is so relatable – catchy and- sticks in your head when you hear it . If it had been put out there— that song would have hit ! FOR SURE!

  4. I’ve got to say I never liked this album. Yes, Diana sounds comfortable. Yes, it was a huge ‘comeback’ hit. But it’s all just kind of dull.

    I totally understand why they went in this smooth MOR direction. Commercially it makes sense – her biggest hits since originally leaving Motown were the retro pastiche ‘Chain Reaction’ and the twinkly saccharine ballad ‘If We Hold On Together’ – pretty much the blue prints for this album. And it works very successfully on that level. You can’t argue with the sales – it’s actually her most successful solo (non-compilation) album ever in the UK (platinum plus). I just feel there’s no fire here. I’d much rather listen to ‘Eaten Alive’ or ‘Red Hot Rhythm & Blues’ or any number of her 80s albums. They may have generally been more uneven (you can’t fault ‘Force’ for consistency) but the peaks beat everything on here I think.

    I don’t mean to slam the record. Actually I really like ‘Heavy Weather’ and ‘You & I’ a lot. But generally there’s passion missing from this project – or maybe more precisely – soul. Diana had done smooth and slick before (say the brilliant ‘Baby It’s Me’) but she’d always been soulful. That’s what’s missing here.

    Take ‘Blame It On The Sun’. I really feel I ought to love this – after all it’s a masterclass in songwriting – but the production and performance somehow leave me a little cold. This should have been a ‘Summertime’ moment for Diana but it falls a little flat. (By the way, if you want to hear a great version of that song look for Syreeta’s version).

    And the title track. Finally Stevie is producing Diana! This should be wonderful – one of the landmark recordings of her career. But let’s face it, it isn’t. Yes there are things to admire (the backing vocal arrangements are fantastic) but it’s not a top drawer Wonder song and Diana actually sound strained at times as the melody runs away from her.

    Don’t get me wrong, I was pleased for Diana’s success with this album. It was great to see her have hit after hit single off it (four UK top 40s – her most ever from one album). ‘One Shining Moment’ is very pleasant in a swaying, lighters-in-the-air way and of course she looks amazing in the video. But that’s really sums it up for me – pleasant – but no passion.

    • I get what you’re saying — I think the “dull” you’re hearing is the “lack of fire” I’m feeling on certain songs. For me, though, this doesn’t sink the album — the songs and performances are strong enough that I think they carry this proejct. Of course, “Take Me Higher” in 1995 would achieve the perfect balance of classy, adult productions and relevant material that she’d been going for…in a way, this album is like a “trial run” for that superior one to come.

  5. I sort of understand where you’re coming from Spooky, but I have to be totally honest, I LOVE this album ! I think playing safe was probably her best option,and it certainly paid off. Her voice entered a new phase – warmer, richer and her singing sounds effortless on these songs- and that is what they are – SONGS, with great lyrics and melody. I believe almost every track could have been a hit single, with the possible exception of You and I, and I just loved her concerts around this period too. BTW there were 5 UK top 40 hits on this not 4.
    Paul I believe this album was the one that made it possible for her to extend her career to infinity with it no longer being an issue whether her homeland were buying her or not. If We Hold On and When You Tell Me are two of the biggest selling singles of her career on a global scale, and , just like Chain Reaction, they never made the US top 40, and somehow it didn’t seem to matter any more. She belonged to the world, and her career was no longer defined by her success in the States. Sure it would be wonderful if she could have one more US top 10 hit, and it must be frustrating for her, but the fact is she remains a successful selling artist all over western Europe to Japan and the far east.
    My own personal favourites are One Shining Moment and Waiting in the Wings, but really I don’t believe there to be a single bad note on the whole album (Well okay , that bum piano at the start of If We Hold On is kind of strange !!)

    • Wayne — I think you’re absolutely right — with this work, Ross’s career far transcended the states, and her global success ensured that she would always have places to perform and fans to buy her albums. Her amazing success around the world has allowed her to escape ever being thought of as an “oldies” artist.

      • Exactly… as harsh as I am with her experimenting and her 80’s albums(RCA) … it is what kept her fresh and controversial enough to reach other successes around the world! It also gave her another “act.” a sound which returns to her roots. No where more evident than on the next album TMH!!!! The ultimate album for me !!!!

    • Hi Lawrence – agree with you about considering Diana’s career on a global level. After the mid-80s her pop career was steadily on the decline in the US while in the rest of the world she was still seen as a huge superstar – with a huge hit single every now and again to prove it.

      What I don’t understand – is exactly what was going on in the US charts and why. At this stage, although she hadn’t had a pop hit for years she still was scoring top 5 R&B hits (the Al B Sure duet followed ‘Workin’ Overtime’ from a few years previous). A lot of people have put it down to bad song choices, poor promotion, her ‘image’ problem, the rise of new voices like Whitney etc. I wonder if the perception of Diana with R&B audiences in the US was different perhaps, or if she was promoted differently in that market or what?

      I actually prefer ‘No Matter What You Do’ to most of the tracks on the album – Diana sounds current, sexy, engaged. No sure how appropriate it was her singing with a young R&B guy half her age but what the hell. I’m surprised she didn’t do more hook-ups with hot artists of the day afterwards – especially as she was part of the Motown stable again and acts like Boyz II Men and Johnny Gill were exploding at the time.

      • I think what was going on is exactly ….. “bad song choices, poor promotion, her ‘image’ problem, the rise of new voices like Whitney etc. ” coupled with Diana not always being easy to manage in the 80’s and early 90’s. What I do celebrate now is ….those songs choices now sound quit good, where are those “new” voices today and her image of late has been much better thanks to Opra and Barbra Walters. Diana,s done amazingly well. What a legend. I too Ike NMWYD. Very sexy in a cougarish kinda way!

      • lol Tony — I’d never though of “No Matter…” as a “Cougar anthem” before :) Spooky — it is strange that Diana was never teamed with Boyz II Men on Motown. In the mid 90s, pretty much everything they released went to #1, and their collaboration with Mariah Carey became the longest-running #1 in history. Diana Ross seems a natural to have recorded with the group, and I think their voices would have blended well.

  6. You would have thought it was an obvious direction to go in – considering the R&B market was the one area she was still having decent size US hits. Pairing Diana with some of the young hot Motown acts of the day could have introduced her to a whole new audience. Maybe the idea was suggested by Diana wasn’t interested. Plus of course she was doing better than she had for years everywhere else with her new MOR sound.

  7. I’ve been traveling the last 24 hours on business ( just got to Dallas, a long way from home) and all Ive been thinking about is this album!!! lol glad I have a moment finally to reply.
    I gotta say, my feelings run about halfway between Spooky’s and everyone else’s. I bought it not long after it came out, was initially disappointed, grew to love it…but it really hasn’t aged well with me. I see everyone loves it, but it’s so…pedestrian. And much of that is due to the antiseptic-doesn’t-describe-it production. It saps most of the songs of any edge they might’ve had. Its downright nauseating at times!
    I like “Change of Heart” and I think Diana is dynamite on it but I don’t hear “hit single” (outside of AC radio) because of that dull-as-dishwater production. It’s inoffensively tasteful to a fault. Them woodwinds on the hook? Sorry Paul, I dont hear this setting the charts on fire. MAYBE with a remix.
    “When You Tell Me That You Love Me”. Such a huge hit overseas. I loved this song as a 15 year old and now I rarely listen to it. Again the production (that guitar solo!) but honestly, Diana’s vocal is kind of all over the place. I don’t think she ever sang this better than she did on Top of the Pops. That vocal is truly mesmerizing. So much better than the record.
    My iphone is getting on my nerves ( and I don’t have my laptop) so i’ll cut this short. Dont get me wrong- the song selection on this album is impeccable and Diana for the most part sounds phenomenal. But the production sinks this. It’s generic adult contemporary mush at its most unimaginative.

    • I’ve listened to this album a few times this week just to check if I was missing something. Or at least to pinpoint more clearly what is it I find so uninspiring about the thing. (Though I actually can’t get through ‘Change Of Heart’ or ‘When You Tell Me’ without skipping to be honest). I think you’ve nailed it Marcus. It’s not the songwriting – generally that’s really good. It’s that damn limp production. Especially the Peter Asher tracks. Those sappy backing vocals and the suffocating politeness of everything.

      Take ‘Battlefield’. Of all the retro pastiches Diana recorded post ‘Chain Reaction’ it’s probably the best song in terms of lyric and interesting melody. But that production. Diana’s singing about ‘a love torn apart’ while the production has zero angst or drama. It drains all the blood out of it. She might as well be singing about having her nails done.

      And it’s not that I think Peter Asher is a bad producer. Not at all. He’s done great stuff with load of acts – 10,000 Maniacs, Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor. Actually the Ronstadt ‘Cry Like A Rainstorm’ album – released just a couple of years before this – was absolutely one of my favourites of the era. But here the sheer beigeness of the production kills the record for me.

      The Al B Sure duet aside, which was never part of these sessions, the only tracks I really enjoy are ‘Heavy Weather’ and especially ‘You And I’ – though ‘Weather’ would be even better with a more dynamic production (and without those awful programmed drums and twinkly synths). ‘You And I’ has such an unusual meandering melody it’s actually quite unique in Diana’s catalogue.

      ‘You’re Gonna Love It’ is fun. It brings some much needed energy to the record (and works much better sequenced earlier as on the international CD version). It’s slight but cute – suits her better than most tracks on ‘Workin’ Overtime’ as you say Paul.

      And then the title track – that’s one of the ones I just keep going back to. It’s not one of Stevie’s classic compositions – obviously, given his unsurpassable track record – and again it’s mired by bad production. Not sappy AOR in Wonder’s case, but that clunky, over produced mechanical thing he was doing in the late 80s thru 90s. BUT the genius is there. That staccato backing vocal arrangement from the Andrae Crouch Choir is quite amazing. And Diana sounds more engaged (those ad-libs on the outro) here than any other track on the record. It’s a rare spark of soul on otherwise probably the most vanilla flavoured album of her career.

      • Oh, I’m totally with you Spooky! (love that username btw, as it conjures an image of my two favorite female singers, Dusty and Diana). I like Battlefield, Heavy Weather and One Shining Moment- because they’re actually very well written songs and Diana’s giving her all. The production keeps me from loving them. The bridge on Waiting in the Wings (“this time around i wont push for an answer…”) saves the song from being a total waste. I love the production on the remix- and the bridge sounds great on that version- but that version reinforces what was clear on the original- it just doesn’t have a strong chorus. I like You’re Gonna Love It! I could’ve done without the silly “doo-doo” refrain, but the rest is great, even the guy saying “so what you want me to do?” very cool. ;)
        I never associate If We Hold On Together or No Matter What You Do with the album, not only because they’re not on the US release but because they’re not even from the same sessions. It feels like they were tacked on (even if the former was also produced by Asher- it was over 3 years old at the time). You and I is such an unusually structured song, I can’t help but have a soft spot for it.
        I wonder what this album wouldve sounded like with a slightly more Quiet Storm edge instead of MOR mundaneness (is that a word?) with Babyface or early Nick Martinelli producing it (even Nick fell prey to adult contemporary excess as the decade wore on…)

  8. Very interesting points brought up so far. I agree both with those who love the album, as well as with those who are more critical towards it, altough I lean more on the side of those who love it.

    Regarding the MOR sound and that sound being the main factor bringing down the whole project, I think it is half-way true since that was the premise of the album. It targets a whole different audience from, say, “Workin’ Overtime,” while it was a natural evolution for Diana as she was entering the fourth decade of her career. I don’t really mind the ‘predictability’ of the sound (or the more cheesy parts, like the guitar solos on “When You Tell Me” and “Blame It…”), as I think it is Diana at her best MOR, something that I can’t say about some of the new tracks on the “Forever Diana” box set. Those songs were too much in my opinion, since “Let’s Make Every Moment Count” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” clearly showed that Diana exhausted the AC vibe on “The Force Behind the Power” and should look for a new direction (which she did on “Take Me Higher”).

    That said, I LOVE “Waiting in the Wings”! Could be my favorite song on the album actually and definitely one my faves of hers. It is one of those songs that ‘titilate’ me in a way that I feel really emotional after listening to it, similar to “After You.” Also, “No Matter What You Do” is one sexy piece of work and easily puts me in ‘that’ mood! Those sighs, those harmonies, the pulsating R&B rhythm…makes me close my eyes and daydream.

    The title track is really one of the most untypical Diana and Stevie songs, yet maybe that’s why it works! I love it and though the production is dated, there is something unique about it. Again, I’m suprised that people love “One Shining Moment” so much! I like it, but not going crazy over it. There is a very elegant quality to it, but I can’t totally connect, altough I’ve grown to like more as years pass by. On the other hand, I could listen to “Change of Heart” over and over! Perfect song.

    Overall, this album is Diana Ross at her most accessible and was a great way to kick the 1990s. I have to say that I love 1990s music as I grew up with it, so even the more “1990s moments” don’t make me cringe. i think all of her 1990s albums are equally great and it is hard for me to choose one as her best of the decade.

    • I’m sure there were some anxious meetings at Motown with Diana’s management when this album was being conceived. It must have been frustrating that Diana hadn’t had a US pop hit for years – but she was still having sporadic but huge hits abroad. I’m sure there were a few questions around the boardroom table when she had the biggest selling pop single of all-time in Japan with MCA’s ‘If We Hold On Together’ while her Motown comeback album was bombing big time everywhere. I’d imagine the words ‘get that guy who did the Dinosaur song’ may have been uttered at some point!

      And of course it was a big hit commercially. Ironically everywhere except America. Like you say Billy, once that AC sound started selling they stuck with it with Diana’s releases – especially of course with the international-only releases that followed over the next few years.

      But personally I’m totally with you Marcus on imagining the possibility of what could have been if they’d gone in a more ‘quiet storm’ direction. As discussed before, the Al B Sure duet had been a big R&B hit in the US so I’m sure the option of pursuing this direction would have been considered. Maybe Motown weren’t convinced it had the necessary pop crossover potential they were aiming for. It is telling though that once that album campaign tanked in the US, Motown had Diana back in the studio recording an R&B remix of ‘Waiting In The Wings’ for a last ditch single release to save the project. I”m with you again on this one Marcus – it’s a big improvement on the album version. Diana’s vocals are so much better – sexy and a soulful in a way missing from the album.

      The potential to push things in that direction was all over this album – that’s what I find most frustrating about this album. It would have been great to hear ‘Heavy Weather’ break free of its AC clothing and get the jazz-inflected soul production it’s crying out for. This was the era after all when hot production teams like Jam & Lewis and LA & Babyface were at the top of their game, bringing a freshness and excitement to pop-R&B in a way that had been missing for years. Actually either of those teams no doubt could have handled a ‘Workin’ Overtime’ type project brilliant and reinvigorated Diana’s appeal to a whole new generation. But equally there an an opportunity at this point to mine that sultry slow jam side of their sound that was delivering success for the likes of Alexander O’Neal, Janet Jackson and Motown’s own Boyz II Men. Remember that debut Toni Braxton album LA & Babyface produced? How great would Diana have been in that kind of setting?

  9. Spooky Diana WAS in ‘that kind of setting’ for her next album TMH and still the US didn’t buy it. By this stage- she could do no right- damned if you do damned if you don’t…even where her fans are concerned- like we’ve learned this through how divided we all can be over her varying styles and albums and releases…
    she just happens to be the kind of star that does the whole myriad of genres and depending on our mood and how well executed as well as the timing of a particular release (esp. Stateside) it either bombed or was a critical and commercial success.
    Unfortunately it must be brought up again that US radio were simply not at all interested- and nor was Motown- I doubt there were ever any decent boardroom meetings as someone earlier wrote, and if there were, then what the hell were they talking about, because promotional plans were all over the place (instead of focused ala EMI’s style), and shoddy at best!
    I really blame Motown- it was not the same company by the time Diana came back. What she wanted to go back to them for I cannot fathom (unless there were no other offers)- They have all but trashed her sales career in America- the very company she helped build.

    Whenever there was a surefire sign that Diana’s popularity was increasing due to a major appearance (think Superbowl for TMH), think (Arsenio Hall or Johnny Carson for this album) they were caught dropping the ball- nowhere to be found was the single version of I will Survive or Take me higher after Superbowl and as for this album- it was not available after either of her promotional TV appearances!

    The same thing happened with Working Overtime- Her post Oscar interview with Barbara Waters (where she spoke of the new album and new Motown contract) was so highly publicized and received top ratings on the tv network, but next day or during that week following the appearance- NO album available!!!

    This poor woman by the time this album came out in 91 probably was so exasperated she really didn’t know what to do or what styles to pursue and probably briefed the producers to play it safe here…
    Of course internationally, whether fans liked it or not, the music and the star were properly and respectfully (as should have been in States) publicized by EMI and UK radio and the hits that this and the next album churned churned out are proof thereof.

    Sorry for my rant- but I get so frustrated.
    As for my opinion of this album…well it’s all the previous takes on it by other members here mashed together.
    It is safe and MOR enough not to offend or be a difficult listen, and when I’m in the mood- I really enjoy it.

    Her live readings of WYTMTYLM are superior to the record itself as she injects a reserved tenderness.
    It’s the kind of album that rarely appears on fans’ top five album list…too pedestrian to stay etched in our minds when we vote? Maybe :-)

    • Chris- I totally get what you’re saying…but I think we have to keep in mind timing. Yes, TMH was “that kind of album”. But it was 4 whole years later, an eternity in the music world. Had an album of the same caliber as TMH came out in 1989 (instead of WO), the story may be very different now. That was the last time Motown put its full promotional muscle behind a Diana release, and the last time one of her releases garnered her heavy publicity. Yes, she suffered from bad press from Mary and J. Randy’s books, but with a substantial release AT THAT POINT, she may have possibly counteracted it all. That didn’t happen. R&B radio was still playing her, but this album (TFBTP) did nothing to help her with R&B audiences. And after this release the live jazz album (no singles) and the boxed set (one US single which was DOA). By the time TMH finally arrived, it was just too late. Everyone except her hardcore fans had moved on. It’s all very regrettable, but that’s the way it unfolded.

  10. Wow – EXCELLENT points Chris. Thank you. i agree with much and especially that she was in the “can do No right ” stage at this point of her career. She really mis -managed her image which translated into a a lack of respect for her as a person. I recall thinking Diana took the high road when the Mary Wilson book came out. BUT looking back … I think Diana should have come out swinging and fought back—- I think her image after that book really suffered. And people buy music from people they like !!!!!

    I do think at this stage Diana needed safe …. she could not afford any more experiments and trend setting initiatives. People needed to hear “DIANA ROSS” again.

    • Tony — I’m with you — Diana needed to do classic Diana again, and she did it well here. It’s not a perfect album, and she would FAR surpass it with her next studio effort for Motown, but this was a solid way to kick off the ’90s and prove that she still had the pipes to sell R&B/pop music well.

    • I agree with you and Paul, Tony. Diana did need to get back to basics. and while this album is certainly a step in the right direction, she would’ve benefited from a producer who could strike a balance between Diana’s soul/jazz side and pop side (a balance she hadn’t really captured well since Baby It’s Me and The Boss, to be honest). This album just comes off as too much of one side. For those who love Diana just doing sedate pop ballads, this is great. But for anyone wanting some spice with it, theyre left out in the cold.

      I think we’re all waiting for the TMH review… Then most of us will likely be in agreement again! ;)

  11. I’ve been wanting to post this for days!!! I heard this performance of WYTMTYLM from TOTP and was completely floored. Listen to the way she wraps her voice around the lyrics in the chorus, the phrasing, and how she handles the big “In a world without you…” change. It’s gorgeous, and if they ever release a DVD of her live solo performances, this is a must to include.

    • WOOOOOOW! Never seen this before. She is amazing. When she is “on” and feeling it, man…there is nobody better. Once again, proof of her power and skill as a vocalist. People who write her off have no idea what she is capable of.

  12. Another thought on this album – does it strike anyone odd that Diana would cover a song strongly associated with Barbra Streisand?

    Commercially the song makes sense of course – Diane Warren was firmly established as a pretty bankable hit maker by this point and ‘Heart Don’t Change My Mind’ was a solid radio-friendly power ballad of the type Whitney, Natalie, you name it, were having major hits with at the time.

    But given the supposed history of Streisand/Ross rivalry it seems strange that she would choose that particular Warren song. Maybe she wasn’t aware of its history or not as bothered as certain parties would have led us to believe. According to Randy Tambourine – although to be fair, he’s been known to take, let’s say, a little dramatic licence with the truth when it stands in the way of a juicier read – Diana wouldn’t even allow Barbra’s name to be spoken around her at a certain point. The supposed rivalry ran way back to Berry Gordy’s desire in mould Diana into ‘the Black Streisand’ – the ultimate crossover star and I’m pretty sure Diana hadn’t been anywhere near Streisand material since the Supremes’ Funny Girl tribute album in the late 60s.

    • Spooky– perhaps she just didn’t realize who’d previously recorded the song?? Who knows. If there really is a weird “rivalry” it’s a shame. Diana’s work on “Funny Girl,” by the way, is breathtaking — the album may have been taken as a joke by the public, but Diana’s vocal work is some of her best ever on it!

      • Paul! I would listen to the Diana Funny Girl album over and over. It was magic to me. Her voice blew me away. The tone and suppleness of her voice on that album help shape ans sophisticate my tastes an a young boy. One of her best albums- without a doubt.

      • I was so excited to find the vinyl of Diana Ross & The Supremes Sing & Perform Funny Girl. Even then I knew it was a rare find. Being a massive Barbra fan I was very wary of the record but as I’d loved the GIT on Broadway Leading Lady medley from the TV special I was pretty positive that Miss Ross would do the show justice, which she absolutely does!

      • Julius — can’t wait until the day we get “Funny Girl” in a beautifully-packaged CD — I hope it’s coming!!!

    • I wasn’t aware of Babs’ version of Heart until after Diana’s, in fact the only version I’d ever heard previously was by Elaine Paige. I doubt if Diana really cared who had recorded it previously to her, it was just a ‘good song’ to her. Your comments about Randy Terriblenelli are spot on, I doubt if he ever let the truth get in the way of his gossip ! I remember when Diana had her BBC radio 2 show around the time of Every Day, she played Streisand and praised her to the heavens on it, which she wouldn’t have done if she genuinely didn’t like her.

      • I agree, Wayne- while I have no doubt Diana had Streisandesque ambitions (and with Diana’s talent, why not?) during their very formative years (60’s and 70’s), I doubt by this time it mattered much to Diana that it was a cover. The production on “Heart (Don’t Change My Mind)” is actually one of the better ones on the album, so i’m glad she included it.

        Of course if it was a song people REALLY associate with Streisand (like Evergreen or The Way We Were) then she might’ve been more apprehensive.

        As for the Funny Girl album, i think it does highlight Diana’s youthful ambition; at the same time, that ambition pushes her to do some of the best vocal work of the first phase of her career. Certainly the most underrated.

      • I wasn’t aware of the radio show. That’s very telling, I think – and definitely more reliable than the pages of a Randy Tortellini book! Do you remember what else she played Wayne? I’m intrigued.

        Of course there was another song that shares history with both Barbra and Diana – ‘Stoney End’. I’m pretty Diana recorded her version of the Laura Nyro classic several months before Barbra – it was part of producer Bone Howes’ sessions for her 1970 solo debut that were shelved at the time (and wisely replaced by Ashford & Simpson). Diana’s version is actually quite lovely.

        Barbra recorded it months later with Richard Perry (who of course later helmed ‘Baby It’s Me’ for Diana) and it became a huge pop hit for her in 1971 – much younger and hipper than the sound she’d been associated with in the 60s.

        With getting all Randy T about it, I wouldn’t blame her if she was a little peeved about that!

      • I was thinking of Stoney End too Spooky, and yes pretty certain Diana recorded it first, could have even been written for her- especially with the line about ‘lovelight in his eyes’ a direct reference to the Supremes first top 40 hit. As for the radio shows there were six hour long shows broadcast in 1999 around the release of Every Day is a New Day. I taped them but passed them on long ago. They were interesting though. I remember her talking at length as to how disappointed she was that she couldn’t get permission to release a duet with Brandy (Love is all that matters ??) and she played most of the usual suspects from her life, Marvin , Smokey etc etc. One cute moment was right at the start of the first show when she introduced herself and said “You may call me Miss Ross !” then started laughing and quickly said ” Oh No ! Call me Diana, PLEASE call me Diana !” Referring to Babs she played something, can’t remember what now, and went on to talk about her being one of her favourite singers and how she is so unfairly criticised about her work as a film producer/director, saying words to the effect that the ‘business’ doesn’t like it when women take control of their careers and how they can’t get support the way men do. Which I guess she wasn’t just talking about Barbra but about her own experiences too. But of course back in the world we live in none of these type of Diana moments get repeated, her humour, her real thoughts, because it is so much easier for media types to keep on repeating crap about her, whether it be true or total fabrication.

  13. Thanks for that Wayne – sounds brilliant. Love that jokey ‘You may call me Miss Ross’ line! Wish I’d heard about it at the time.

  14. What I find really interesting reading through the latter album entries here is that outside the US each of these discs had pretty significant successes through Europe or on the R&B and Dance charts.

    Perhaps being an Australian fan and a kid of the Eighties maybe my take on these more recent releases is a bit different. It was those RCA and second round Motown releases that resonated with me as a fan. Especially ‘The Force Behind the Power’ I always thought of Miss Ross as the big balladeer & those two songs ‘When You Tell Me That You Love Me’ & ‘If We Hold On Together’ were iconic tracks forever identified with her.

    It is a big world (as someone previously stated) and I think the lack of big hits in the white bread US pop charts is more a reflection of its narrow field of vision rather than a reflection of the product. The fact that Diana still had Top 10 hits with most of her LP releases across R&B/Hip Hop (with ‘I Love You’ most recently charting at #16 in 2007, or ‘Blue’ charting at #6 on the Jazz charts in 2006), Dance or World charts. It seems that because each of these charts reflects the taste of ‘marginal’ listeners (black, gay or foreign respectivly) it is easy to dismiss success in these markets. Markets known to remain more loyal to artists that continually deliver (as is the case with Diana). Maybe because Diana never figured mammothly on the Oz charts (outside of Chain Reaction) maybe I’m happy to take wins wherever I find them…?

    As I learn more about those albums I have loved forever, or those that I am trying to better know. I am continually surprised & pleased to learn how successful & well recieved much of The Boss’ output has been. Most often by those folks I respect the most!

    Forgive the diatribe so early in our acquaintance… ;-)

    • lol…I totally get what you’re saying. I think because Miss Ross had such a hugely successful career on the pop charts from 1964-1984, everything that came after was unfaily judged in the United States, and held against that high standard. I also appreciate that Diana’s albums were still charting on multiple formats and doing well on charts like jazz/R&B/dance — it proves what a versatile artist she is!

      • And this is sought of my point, what standard are we holding Miss Ross to other than her own. It’s phenomenal that her run of chart hits was a staggering as they were. But her career hardly stopped cold at 1984 with a slow down in top ten hits (as your fabulous blog is testemant).

        I cannot think of one major female artist that has had the consistent run of commercial hits across the decades as Miss Ross (this is seperate from legacy or overall sales although Diana holds both in spades). across as you rightly stated multiple platforms.

        Streisand as an example is not a singles artist, having I think two or three top 10 chart toppers through her entire career, but whose legacy as a recording artist is pretty much set in stone.

        Cher who has been lauded for holding #1 hits across every decade 60s-90s still doesn’t touch Miss Ross for product consistency.

        Aretha, Patti, Gladys, Tina artists we look to as torch bearers have neither had consistent successes with their work. Patti Labelle laments her lack of cross over success, Aretha’s most recent self produced CD hardly resonated with buyers, Tina hadn’t released a pop record in almost 10 years (8 for Miss Patti).

        Diana’s last record also self produced hit #16 R&B and #34 on the Billboard charts, her most recent tour 2010-2012 is in the top 20 of money spinners (where her competition is Britney Spears for example).

        My point and I promise I have one is, that I am unsure where this tone (through press or even that self professed haigographer Randy J Tamborelli) that Miss Ross’ career post Motown (Gen1) or inclusive of a handful RCA hits is pretty much a bust is both ludicrous & dismissive of what I feel remains a pretty impressive list of ongoing achievements.

        Much like Whitney Houston when it seems too easy or an exceptional talent has been taken for granted, that it is when we don’t have it to hand that we realize what we lost.

        Let’s not wait that long to applaud each & every one of Miss Ross’ successes.

  15. Pingback: Forever Diana: Musical Memoirs (1993) « The Diana Ross Project

  16. Battlefield is one the best up-tunes Ross has done since going solo. And it is perhaps the only post-Supremes song to actually capture that sound. Production on all songs in this collection is sleek.

  17. When I first saw the cover art of “The Force Behind The Power” at the end of the booklet of “One Woman-Collection” I wanted so badly to get my hands on this album. Considering that I adored all three grand ballads from that album that found their way to “One Woman” I knew that it would be great purchase. Of course in Poland certain things take time and I had to wait about two years for this album to appear in my private collection. But better late than never…I see this album as Diana’s response to Linda Ronstadt’s successful, Peter Asher-produced 1989’s “Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like The Wind”-which at times was overblown and overproduced yet immensely enjoyable. That’s why it’s such a surprise that the album didn’t produce any US hits. “When You Tell Me That You Love Me” should have become a kind of AC staple just like Ronstadt’s “Adios”. Asher as a producer is known for his bombastic tricks but they work in Miss Ross favour. Just listen to her performance on “Blame It On The Sun”. Her voice is so subtle and elegant. And the latter word is, at least in my mind, the perfect description of “The Force Behind The Power”. The album personifies elegance in every second of every song. Even “You’re Gonna Love It” displays Diana Ross’ ability to find perfect balance between Jody Watley-like New jack Swing inspired hard beats and her well known sophistication. In my opinion, “When You Tell Me That You Love Me” should have been recorded as a duet (maybe with Aaron Neville???) to push the sales of the album in US…It’s such a sad thing that this album was so overlooked in US.

    • I totally agree with you that having Diana duet on the original version of “When You Tell Me…” would have been a good move, especially had it been with a popular male artist who could have helped push the single commercially. I’d never thought of that, but it could have been a great way to get Diana back in pop radio’s good graces!

  18. One of her best solo albums, “The force behind the power” was Diana’s better produced album since the early 80s. “Change of heart” is one of my all time favorite Diana songs. “If we hold on together” was actually the fisrt song I ever heard by Miss Ross, as a little child in the late 80s, in the Spielberg’s animated film for dinosaurs, and after that I loved her. The rest of the album is also very strong and competitive! What we should focus on, is not the great album itself, but the disability of Motown to promote a project like this and their unwilliness to spend some money on marketing! They made 4 videos for the album, all of them were low budget and cheap productions which showed nothing more than Diana in her top fashion gowns singing her songs. During those years, other music companies spent huge money on making good and interesting music videos for their artists to show on MTv and other tv stations. I’m not talking about the 5 million budget MJ’s music videos, but they could at least come up with something less cheap than the “Heart(don’t change my mind), filmed in the recording studio and showing Diana with her sunglasses…What a pity for an album like this to be released by a dead record label like Motown…

  19. I enjoyed this when it came out but right away I knew something was wrong with it. Except for “When You Tell Me”, “Force” and “You’re Gonna Love It”, it’s bland. Now let’s not forget that in 1991 Adult Contemporary music was perversely hot. (I used to play a game with a friend at this time. We would turn the radio off for five minutes and then try to guess who would be playing when we turned it back on. The only choices were Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan, Phil Collins and Michael Bolton.) But really, there’s nothing going on here. It could be anyone. The electric guitar instrumental in “When You Tell Me” is awful. Why didn’t they go with violins or horns? That’s what makes the concerts from this album so interesting. She sounds so much better on this boring material when she can work her live magic, sounding her crisp phrases. No one will agree with me on this but I think “Workin’ Overtime” was a lot better.

  20. A bit too AC for me. TMH is light years better but this is not a bad record! Change of heart is amazing -almost songs like a supremes song for the 90s!
    I actually like you’re gonna love it on here. It’s new jack swing without being super cheese like some stuff on WO! Though it’s lyrical content of honeymoon sex is a bit–off putting. I mean it’s almost a song for Promise Ring holders!

    What I think this album lacks that TMH and EDIAND have is soul! Lots of vanilla ballads and not enough urban sounds!

  21. Actually the No matter what you do version on the EMI FBTP is different from the All B Sure single. different mix and ad lib

  22. Pingback: Billboard Music Awards 2004 (Stevie Wonder Tribute) | THE DIANA ROSS PROJECT

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