Everything Is Everything (1970)

“Heaven must have sent you to me, and I’m not gonna let you go back…”

That big, rushing sound you heard in the fall of 1970 was the collective sigh of relief from everyone at Motown when Diana Ross scored her first #1 single with “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” which topped the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks in September; though the company was outwardly confident that the singer would be a solo success, there was no doubt extreme pressure to deliver on the promises.  With her first album, titled Diana Ross, pushed to #1 on the R&B Albums chart thanks to the success of “Ain’t No Mountain,” plans moved forward for a television special and a feature film (discussions concerning Ross portraying jazz legend Billie Holiday stretched back to 1969); Ross, meanwhile, continued perfecting her stage show and was already back in the studio to cut tracks for her second album, which would hit music store shelves just five months after the first one.

Producer Deke Richards was put in charge of the album eventually titled Everything Is Everything, and years later, he would admit that it was something of a rush job.  “…all I remember is Berry [Gordy, Jr., Motown founder] said he wanted something different.  Problem is he wanted it yesterday,” Richards remembers in the liner notes to the album’s 2008 reissue.  Gordy was apparently concerned over the performance of Diana’s debut single, “Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand),” released in April, and wanted something else ready for release; Richards immediately began amassing material, turning to fellow Motown producer Hal Davis for help and also cutting tracks for covers of then-popular songs by artists ranging from The Beatles to Aretha Franklin.  Richards himself composed only three of the album’s eleven songs, including two brand-new songs, the ballad “I’m Still Waiting” and the absurdly-titled “Doobedood’ndoobe, Doobedood’ndoobe, Doobedoo’ndoo.”

Billboard: August 28, 1971

In his Soul Sauce column in the November 28, 1970 issue of Billboard, Ed Ochs wrote, “Our local ears predict that ‘My Place,’ from Diana Ross’ ‘Everything Is Everything’ LP will be her next single.”  A month later, “Come Together” was gaining enough R&B attention that it turned up on the Jet magazine Soul Brothers Top 20 chart.  And yet…Motown didn’t jump on either cut.  Instead, thanks to the massive success of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” the writing-producing team of Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson was given first dibs on a follow-up single, which they delivered with “Remember Me” in December of 1970.  Without a single promoting the album, Everything Is Everything really never got a chance at finding real success; it wouldn’t be until a full year after the album’s release that Motown released “I’m Still Waiting,” in an attempt to capitalize off of the song’s incredible success in the United Kingdom.

Thus, Everything Is Everything (Motown 724) became something of a “lost” album for awhile, garnering little attention from anyone aside from die-hard Diana Ross fans and not getting a proper reissue until 2008.  That’s unfortunate, because it’s an interesting entry in the Ross discography and there are certainly some cuts that merit rediscovery.  Everything Is Everything is, without a doubt, dated; the very title of the album, a popular catchphrase of the day, indicates as such.  Really, it’s closer in spirit to latter-day Diana Ross and The Supremes albums than to 1970’s Diana Ross, because there’s not necessarily a theme to the work as a whole; even Deke Richards would later say, “I began to feel knots in my stomach when I knew there would be no overall concept to the album.”  The songs of Diana Ross told the story of a young woman emerging into solo stardom through a collection of exciting, passionate performances.  Everything Is Everything instead is more of a showcase of what Diana Ross could do with a song as an interpreter.

***

Billboard: November 28, 1970

1.  My Place:  Although Billboard predicted this song would be issued as a single in late 1970, it was passed over and remains one of the lesser-known album tracks of the singer’s career; the composition was eventually covered by The Devastating Affair and placed on the b-side of that group’s 1972 single “I Want To Be Humble” (The Devastating Affair can be heard backing Miss Ross on her 1974 LP Live At Caesar’s Palace).  “My Place” was written by Jerry Marcellino, Mel Larson, and Hal Davis, and produced by the latter; Marcellino and Larson would contribute “The Bigger You Love (The Harder You Fall)” to The Supremes and Four Tops joint LP Dynamite in 1971, and Davis would go on to produce a bona fide Diana Ross classic with the 1976 #1 hit “Love Hangover.”  “My Place” is certainly no “Love Hangover,” although it is the kind of bouncy, energetic pop song that latches itself onto the listener’s brain and just won’t let go.  The difference between this song and the material featured on Diana Ross is immediately audible; “My Place” sounds gritty and tinny, much closer in spirit to “In And Out Of Love” or “Love Child” than the high-gloss, epic “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”  Same goes for the vocal; Miss Ross does a nice job, but it doesn’t stretch her much more than anything she’d done with the Supremes years earlier.  The singer’s dependably crisp, clear tone becomes quite mushy toward the end, too, something Deke Richards noted in the liner notes to the album’s 2008 reissue: “There was one place near the end where Diana’s voice distorted during the chorus.  It drove me crazy.  I kept telling Hal to bring her back in and re-dub that part.”  The end result is a pleasant listen, but something that sounds much more like the theme song to a 1970s sitcom than a recording that could have been a bit hit.

2.  Ain’t No Sad Song:  This is the second Hal Davis production in a row, and this one takes Diana Ross to perhaps the funkiest place she’d been since “I’m So Glad I Got Somebody (Like You Around),” a song she recorded as a Supreme back in late 1968.  Her hard-edged, earthy performance probably surprised a lot of people who hadn’t mined the deep cuts of her latter-day Supremes albums; there’s a breathy aggressiveness to her work here, and she certainly makes a distinct choice in the way she’s going to deliver the song and then sticks to it wholeheartedly.  It’s not a very “pretty” performance, especially in light of some of the gorgeous vocal work that will come later on the album, but it demonstrates the artist’s willingness to experiment in the studio, something which critics often ignore.  The song itself was penned by Davis along with Berry Gordy’s son (Berry Gordy IV, credited on the album as “The Bear”) and Diana’s brother Chico Ross, who would later serve as one of his sister’s onstage dancers; it’s a brisk, fun composition, but it unfortunately doesn’t boast a memorable refrain and there’s no real “hook.”  When Everything Is Everything was reissued on compact disc in 2008, a second version of this song was included with alternate lyrics; it’s actually an improvement, giving the song a bit more structure.  In any case, “Ain’t No Sad Song” may not be a Diana Ross classic, but it is a nice diversion and something different in terms of the singer’s early solo output.

Billboard: September 29, 1971

3.  Everything Is Everything:  This is a peppy song that, in many ways, serves as a sonic sequel to “My Place” — both tunes feature similar “sunny pop” arrangements that take Diana back to her Supremes roots more than they further her solo career.  To that end, “Everything Is Everything” was written by Margaret Gordy (the 2008 liner notes clarify that the writer was a girlfriend of Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr.; together they have a son, Kennedy, who would later record under the name Rockwell), who also wrote the sublime, bluesy “The Beginning Of The End,” featured on Diana’s final studio LP with The Supremes, Cream Of The Crop.  “Everything Is Everything” was a popular catchphrase in the early 1970s; soul singer Donny Hathaway’s debut album was also titled Everything Is Everything, and released only two months before Diana’s album.  Here, the writer uses the words to convey the blissful feeling of true love, giving Miss Ross lines like “You’re my joy/You’re my pleasure/But most of all, darling/You’re my treasure” to sing over bouncy “Baby Love”-esque piano chords.  Today, the song is obviously dated; aside from the title phase, the word “groovy” also makes several appearances.  But there’s something about the unabashed happiness in both the instrumental performance and in Diana’s vocal that is hard to resist.  As with the previous pair of songs, “Everything Is Everything” doesn’t exactly stretch Miss Ross, nor does it take her far from where she was musically in the previous decade.  But the song doesn’t really aspire to be anything more than a few short minutes of pleasant listening, and it certainly achieves that.

4.  Baby It’s Love:  This is one of the best songs on the album, and it’s comes from a surprising source; credited as writers on “Baby It’s Love” are Anna Gordy Gaye, Marvin Gaye, and Charles Laskey.  Coincidentally, work on this cut was happening in July of 1970, precisely the time Diana’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” was beginning its climb to #1; the song, of course, had originally been recorded by Mr. Gaye, as a duet with Tammi Terrell.  Gaye was apparently staying very busy at the time; he’d recently been turning out hits for Motown group The Originals, and work was progressing on his own “What’s Going On,” which would be released in January of 1971.  “Baby It’s Love” bears many sonic similarities to Gaye’s work from that period, particularly to the supple, sax-heavy “Baby, I’m For Real,” which had taken The Originals to #1 (and was also co-written by Anna, Marvin’s wife); it’s interesting to wonder if perhaps the song was initially meant for that group instead of Miss Ross.  The song is a buttery-smooth soul track featuring a sexy, knowing vocal from Diana atop a chugging instrumental track led by the aforementioned sax and driving guitars; there’s a subtle urgency to the track that plays against Diana’s laid-back vocal, creating an interesting texture to the song.  The singer’s work is extremely accomplished; her breathy vocal is mature and appealing, and the producers (in this case Hal Davis and Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr.) add in some unique touches, such as the doubling of the singer’s voice at 1:03.  With Gordy co-listed as producer, it’s strange that “Baby It’s Love” didn’t get more attention; the song easily could have been a single, and it would have been a perfect addition to the singer’s live performances.  It remains one of the best cuts of Diana’s early solo career, and is a recording ripe for discovery by those who want to dive deeper into the artist’s discography.

Billboard: October 30, 1971

5.  I’m Still Waiting:  This is the song Everything Is Everything will forever be remembered for; although many in America never knew the song existed, it enjoyed a much different fate overseas, becoming an iconic classic and achieving incredible success in the Untied Kingdom.  According to Deke Richards, who wrote and produced it, “I wrote the original basic chart, which I wanted to be simple and unassuming…Diana liked the song but the soft, vulnerable style took her by surprise.”  Indeed, “I’m Still Waiting” is light years away from “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” in terms of the tone; the sad, desperate voice that cries out, “Come back, come back/I miss you!” is certainly not the same woman who pledged, “If you need me, call me” earlier that year.  But “I’m Still Waiting” is no less successful as a song and in terms of the performance; if nothing else, listening to the two recordings back-to-back reveals Diana’s gift for interpretation, and proves that she was an adept actress long before ever setting foot onto a movie set.  Much credit must go to Richards, who clearly guided the singer according to his vision for the song; in the album’s reissue liner notes, he remembers, “I had to hold her back at times, especially on the chorus.  Her tone and timber were too strong.  In the verses I had to keep her from anticipating lines and certain simple syncopations without overdoing it.”  The result is that Miss Ross sounds amazingly young and naive, giving herself over completely to the character and allowing her voice to very gently ride over the softly-swaying melody.  Richards praises Diana Ross for doing exactly what he asked without question; this is important, because it demonstrates the artist’s gift for giving a song exactly what it calls for, and never giving in to the temptation to showboat or oversing.  Miss Ross is so good at this, in fact, that it’s led to a long-running misconception about her vocal abilities; there are those critics who still contend that then singer possesses a “thin” tone or limited range, despite an abundance of evidence to the contrary.  If Diana Ross sounds “weak” at times on this song, it’s because she’s playing a weak character, and she’s doing it brilliantly; it clearly struck audiences, because it ended up a #1 record in the U.K., much to the surprise of just about everyone.  As remembered by Deke Richards in his reissue liner notes, “Tony Blackburn at BBC Radio played ‘I’m Still Waiting’ so much that public demand persuaded Motown to finally release if there as a single.  After a few short weeks it went to No. 1 and stayed there for weeks.  It because one of the U.K.’s biggest-selling records of all time.”  Based on the incredible reaction abroad, Motown released the song in the United States on October 13, 1971, more than a year after it had released the Everything Is Everything album; by that point, the public had been saturated with three successive singles from the singer’s latest album Surrender, and Diana was preparing to film Lady Sings The Blues, which left little time for promotion.  “I’m Still Waiting” ended up peaking at a paltry #63 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #40 on the R&B chart, unfortunate showings for such a strong record.  Still, outside of the United States, “I’m Still Waiting” lives on as one of the great Diana Ross recordings of all time, and it remains a beautiful vehicle for both its singer and writer-producer.

Billboard: June 24, 1971

6.  Doobedood’ndoobe, Doobedood’ndoobe, Doobedood’ndoo:  This is, without a doubt, the album’s most ambitious track; written and produced by Deke Richards, it’s an episodic and dramatic work that pushes Miss Ross more than any of the album’s preceding songs.  Richards plays with some interesting religious ideas here, arranging the entire production as though a choir of angles is looking down on the narrator, having finally sent her a true love; that choir opens the song with, “Girl, we’re gonna send you someone to love,” before Diana responds with, “Heaven must have sent you to me.”  Richards lends the song a sense of majesty through his unusual orchestration, which gives most of the spotlight to a harpsichord and features blaring trumpets; the lyrics later reference a “rock and roll symphony,” and Richards certainly seems to be aiming for that goal.  Diana Ross, of course, is an ideal vocalist for such a theatrical track, and she delivers one of her best vocal performances of the entire album; Ross sings with complete confidence, navigating the tricky transitions from verse to refrain with ease.  In the hands of a lesser singer, such a jarring change in tone likely wouldn’t have worked well, but Ross uses her interpretive abilities to sell the lyrics and lend the entire production a believability which holds it together.  If not for the completely insane title, this could have been a strong choice for a single in the U.S.; it straddles the R&B/pop line nicely and while as contemporary as anything else on the radio in 1970, was also different enough that it could’ve garnered some good airplay.  According to Richards in the album’s reissue liner notes, “I hadn’t finished the lyrics when I cut the track.  All I had was the ‘Doo-bee’ part, so I put that down on the session notes as a dummy title…The original title was going to be ‘I Just Started Livin’.'”  He goes on to say that Berry Gordy argued against a title change, supposing that the strange collection of syllables would generate curiosity amongst radio programmers.  Although the song was unfairly passed over by radio and the record label in the States, the title didn’t turn off fans in the U.K.; issued as a follow-up to the wildly successful “I’m Still Waiting,” this song peaked at #12 on the chart there.

Jet: December 17, 1970

7.  Come Together:  When Everything Is Everything was released in September without an accompanying single, radio programmers began spinning some of the cuts themselves; “Come Together” is one that gained some early traction, and ended up making the Jet Soul Brothers Top 20 chart for the week of December 17, 1970.  The song, of course, is a cover of the Beatles classic, which had topped the Billboard Hot 100 in November of 1969, only a few weeks before Diana Ross and The Supremes would assume the throne with “Someday We’ll Be Together.”  Producer Deke Richards actually cut a few Beatles tracks for Miss Ross, mentioning in the Everything Is Everything reissue liner notes that he considered them for a separate project called Diana Takes On The Beatles; he cut the track for “Come Together” at RCA in Hollywood, admitting that he hadn’t even written all the musicians’ parts and that “in the background you can hear them sporadically stop playing.”  The result is a track that feels spontaneous and quite loose, which gives the recording a tremendous boost of energy; there’s a freshness here that recalls some of the work Deke Richards had produced for The Jackson 5.  Although Diana Ross didn’t record her vocal until after the instrumental track had been finished, she listens to and plays off of the band beautifully; there’s also a spontaneity in her performance, as if she’s doing the entire thing live in concert.  This is where Diana’s “musician’s ear” comes into play; as an artist, she’s generally very aware of her musical surroundings and the tone set by the track to which she happens to bed singing, something that will become more and more demonstrable throughout the decade.  There’s also an appealing rawness to the singer’s voice on this recording; Diana Ross may be famous for her sophisticated and polished vocals, but she’s also capable of summoning up some real Detroit grit in her work, and it’s certainly audible here (and listen to her “C’mon, y’all!” at 4:30 into the song — it’s pretty clear from where young Michael Jackson was drawing his inspiration).  Interestingly, a few of Motown’s female stars covered this song around the same time; producer Johnny Bristol cut it with Gladys Knight & The Pips, and Frank Wilson turned out a version for The Supremes, led by Diana’s replacement Jean Terrell.  The latter was included on the trio’s New Ways But Love Stays LP, released the very same month as Diana’s album.

8.  The Long And Winding Road:  Let’s be honest; “Come Together” is definitely an anomaly when it comes to Diana Ross covering The Beatles.  She’s buoyed on that song by a superb instrumental and arrangement, just as she was on “Hey Jude” from 1969’s Cream Of The Crop.  But aside from these two performances, Ross and The Supremes had never fared well when tacking material written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney; just listen to the disastrous 1964 LP A Bit Of Liverpool and Diana’s uninspired reading of “Yesterday” on 1965’s I Hear A Symphony for proof (or, actually, do yourselves a favor and don’t listen to them).  Unfortunately, this cover of “The Long And Winding Road” (which had been a #1 for The Beatles earlier in 1970) is pretty awful, and unquestionably the low-point of Everything Is Everything.  Coming after seven songs that straddle the line between pop and R&B really well, “The Long And Winding Road” dives straight off the cliff into schmaltzy MOR territory, killing the rootsy vibe summoned by songs like “Come Together” and “Baby It’s Love.”  The arrangement here is laborious and overwrought, and seems to meander along while never actually getting anywhere (which, to be fair, is appropriate given the title).  But Diana, unfortunately, doesn’t rise above the material, and brings some of her Supremes affectations back from the dead here, stretching words like “here” into “hee-aaaaah” and “disappear” into “disa-peeeee-ahhhhh” in the overdone, show-biz sort of the singing she often incorporated into her medleys of hits during live shows in the late 1960s.  This is disappointing in light of the fresh, inspired singing she’d turned in for her solo debut album and on a few cuts on this album.  If any song should have been left in the vaults, this is it.

9.  I Love You (Call Me):  And then…a masterpiece.  “I always wanted to cut [this song] on Diana, to take her away from the pop sound, and give her a chance to cut loose,” says Deke Richards in the 2008 reissue liner notes to Everything Is Everything, and that’s exactly what he accomplishes with this brilliant cover of the Aretha Franklin classic.  Franklin had written the song and recorded it for her This Girl’s In Love With You LP; when it was released as a single in early 1970, it sailed to #1 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart and peaked in the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100.  According to producer Richards, “There was very little direction…Diana already knew the tune and liked my arrangement,” and that arrangement is very close to one featured on Franklin’s original; both recordings are softly-swaying and slow-burning soul ballads with a lot of room for the vocalists to add in soulful riffs and play with the melody.  Interestingly, both are also arranged in the exact same key, revealing similarities in the voices of Ross and Franklin that many critics would likely deny exist.  As soon as Miss Ross begins singing over the smooth strings and twinkling piano, it’s clear that she’s right at home; her performance is a mix of the breathy sexiness of “Baby It’s Love” and the soulful power demonstrated on her work with Ashford & Simpson, and she effortlessly blends both styles into a spellbinding mix of sandpaper and silk.  In another example of her mastery of interpretation, Diana’s injects her vocal with a plaintive urgency that makes her sound even more impassioned than Aretha Franklin did; not just do you believe that Diana is in love, you believe she’s desperately in love, and can’t stand to live a single moment without the person she’s singing to.  The performance if full of standout moments; I’m partial to her “Don’t for-GET!” at 2:42, which is as raw as her voice had ever sounded on record.  The key to appreciating this recording and Diana’s work is to realize that this is truly a singer’s song; only someone with clear, demonstrably vocal talent could really pull this off, because there’s nowhere to hide.  Within this loose, spacious track, Miss Diana Ross shines, proving without a doubt that she is one of the great pop/R&B voices of all time.  It’s unfortunate that this cover came so quickly after Franklin’s version had topped the charts; if it hadn’t, Motown might have had the vision to release it as a single.  Although it never got the chance to gain its own audience, it did earn Miss Ross her second solo Grammy nomination, this time for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.  Although she didn’t win (ironically, she lost to Aretha, with “Bridge Over Troubled Water”), her performance remains a thrilling achievement.

10.  How About You:  This is a sugary-pop confection written by Deke Richards along with Sandra Sanders and David Van De Pitte and originally cut on Motown singer Chris Clark for her 1969 LP CC Rides Again.  Listening to Clark’s version, it’s impossible to miss the pop influence of Herb Alpert and the songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David; Richards was clearly working to fit the talented Miss Clark into the “Dionne Warwick Sophisticated Soul” camp, although the singer possesses a gritty, soulful voice capable of much more depth.  The pop influence is just as noticeable on Diana’s of the song, which is sped up quite a bit, revealing how much the lilting melody recalls songs like “Do You Know The Way To San Jose,” a hit for Warwick in 1968.  In the 2008 Everything Is Everything reissue liner notes, Richards discussed his desire to recall the Bacharach sound, writing, “I was a big Burt Bacharach fan since the early days.  When Burt did a show in Las Vegas, I approached him to write a song for Diana.”  Although that didn’t happen, Richards admits he recorded this song as a “humble tribute” to the songwriter.  “How About You” is a really nice recording; there’s an appealing lightness to it, and Miss Ross has the perfect voice for the song, bouncing along the melody without ever getting swamped by it.  In the context of this album, it suffers by being sandwiched between two far superior recordings; “I Love You (Call Me)” is the masterpiece of the album, and “(They Long To Be) Close To You” actually was written by Bacharach and David, and is a better, more fully-formed composition.  Taken on its own terms, however, this is a solid little tune and showcases some versatility for Miss Ross and Mr. Richards.  (NOTE: “How About You” would be placed on the b-side of Diana’s third solo single, “Remember Me,” released in December.)

11.  (They Long To Be) Close To You:  Like “I Love You (Call Me),” this tune had been a huge hit not long before the release of Everything Is Everything; released by pop duo The Carpenters in the spring of 1970, it ended up topping the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks in July and August, relinquishing the throne just in time for Diana’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” to take it in September.  Although it had been recorded a few times before, The Carpenters hit pay dirt by facing the song’s sappiness head-on; by embracing the childish lyrics and syrupy melody, Karen and Richard Carpenter created an unforgettable pop classic that lives on in pop culture decades later.  Smartly, Diana Ross and Deke Richards don’t stray much from the formula; if anything, her vocal and his production lend the song a lightness that helps relieve some of the melancholy that seems to underscore the Carpenters version.  Diana’s performance is pitch-perfect; there’s a lovely dreaminess to her interpretation, and she lightly dances over the melody with ease.  Although Deke Richards turns in a rather busy track, it’s frothy and filled with whimsical touches; he also replaces the slick, layered backgrounds of the Carpenters recording with earthier, soulful voices, which helps give this rendition its own identity.  It would have been very easy to go wrong with this song; it could have easily slipped into the over-the-top, saccharine territory into which “The Long And Winding Road” landed with a thud.  Instead, Diana’s sweet and sincere reading elevates this song to being one of the most memorable on the album, and a satisfying one with which to close it.

***

Although it was released in September of 1970, Everything Is Everything didn’t debut in Billboard until November, when it bowed on the Top LPs chart at #105.  It eventually peaked at a disappointing #42, although it fared much better on the R&B Albums chart, topping out at #5.  The chart positions aren’t a big surprise, considering Ross really didn’t do any immediate promotion of the album, and there was no single to draw attention to it. Motown would finally follow-up the blockbuster single “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” in December, but it wouldn’t go with a song from this album; as mentioned earlier, because Ashford & Simpson had produced a #1 hit on the singer, they got the opportunity to try for a repeat, and their “Remember Me” would become Diana’s third solo single.  Miss Ross would perform two of this album’s songs on her television special Diana! in April, but by then the Everything Is Everything was forgotten.

There is no doubt that there’s an unevenness to Everything Is Everything which results in it sounding more like a collection of songs than a complete album.  Even Diana Ross apparently knew this, having said “I wasn’t satisfied with the Everything Is Everything album…When I do an album, I like it to be good all the way through”  (David Nathan, The Soulful Divas, 153).  Still, there are some strong productions here that tend to be overlooked in the context of Diana Ross’s solo career.  Later in the decade, Diana would sometimes play it safe, following much more closely to the melody of the songs she recorded and shying away from recording songs that required her to push her voice.  But Everything Is Everything captures the singer at a time when she was still experimenting with her sound as a solo artist, and when she scored, she scored big.

Final Analysis: 3/5 (An Uneven “Road”)

Paul’s Picks:  “I Love You (Call Me),” “I’m Still Waiting,” “Baby It’s Love”

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Album-by-album, track-by-track, a look at the entire Diana Ross discography...
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55 Responses to Everything Is Everything (1970)

  1. Nice job! Very thoughful and insightful,

  2. Everett says:

    I fell madly in love with I’m Still Waiting and couldn’t believe that it wasn’t a hit in the US. And since (I Love You) Call Me was nominated for a Grammy, why wasn’t it released as a single? It had great chart potential. Perhaps it was too soon after Aretha’s version. But Aretha’s version was only a hit on the R&B charts. Diana’s version could have easily topped the pop charts. Here was the first example of Diana being put in the wrong category. Her version should not have been in the R&B category. She’s pure pop on the song and could beat Aretha in that category (and later Natalie Cole).

  3. Everett says:

    Angry fingers make mistakes! I was trying to say that Diana could never defeat Aretha in the R&B category. One of the reasons being that the Grammys are voted on by its primarily white members and most of them have a preconceived idea of what a black woman should sound and look like (Aretha, yes. Diana, no).

  4. Paul says:

    Thanks VintageDaytona!

  5. Paul says:

    Everett — I totally agree that at the time, there was no way anyone but Aretha was winning R&B Female — she dominated for years, so Diana never had a chance of winning that Grammy, no matter how good her performance. It is weird that “I Love You (Call Me)” wasn’t released as a single — I guess it was too soon for a cover version to be released — but it was one of the best candidates for a single release from the album. There were a couple of hits that I think Motown missed from this album!

  6. Everett says:

    I think Motown was overly ambitious at that time. There was a lot going on in the music world… I don’t think there were any single releases from Everything is Everything, was there? I was buying primarily singes back then (still a teenager). I think How About You and Close to You were B sides if I remember correctly. And although Doobedood’ndoobe had the right idea, it missed with the weird change in tempo and very weird lyrics (title). Guess that’s why it was a hit in England! After receiving a Grammy nomination, I Love You (Call Me) should have been released as a single (Not really too soon after Aretha’s since hers was only an R&B hit and Motown had previous success with releasing Marvin’s Grapevine less than a year after Gladys’.

  7. Alan Trevor says:

    Aretha’s (I Love You) Call Me made US 13 pop, US #1 R & B. It didn’t chart in the UK. Diana’s version is good, but Aretha’s tears it up.

    I’m Still Waiting was an iconic Diana track in the UK, #1 for 4 weeks in summer 71 [whilst she was having Rhonda!], and the biggest selling Motown single in the UK at that point. So the EIE album did have some success here.

    I don’t think there’s any way Motown US would’ve released ILYCM as a single – too soon after Aretha’s hit, and we all Motown preferred to release their own [Jobete] copyrights whenever possible to make the maximum profit. Any writer’s royalties would’ve gone to Aretha – not Motown.

  8. Donnie Conner says:

    I love the track “What Are You Doing For The Rest Of Your Life” from the expanded edition of this album. Proof, once again, that no one sounds like or as good as Diana Ross when she is pouring her soul into a performance!

  9. Paul says:

    Donnie — I love that song, too — it should have been placed on this album originally, in my opinion, probably in place of “The Long And Winding Road.” I also like the alternate version of “Ain’t No Sad Song” on the expanded edition WAY better than the original version!

  10. Paul says:

    Alan — very true — it makes sense that Motown would want to release songs by in-house writers to make more money in the US. I hadn’t though of that before. I guess that’s why they chose not to release the Stylistics’ covers from “Diana & Marvin” (“You Are Everything” and “Stop, Look, Listen”) — which in my opinion are the best two songs on that album and should have been big hits in the states!

  11. Alan Trevor says:

    Thanks, Paul.

    Also, the two Stylistics tunes had already been US hits, so I guess Motown figured that Diana’s & Marvin’s versions wouldn’t get too far over there.

    As i’d said, there’s also the issue, IMO, that Motown preferred wherever possible to hit with their own copyrights, in order to maximise their profits.

    I personally agree that You Are Everything by D & M is an absolute classic!

  12. wayne2710 says:

    Love what you’re Doing Paul !
    Strangely enough my own personal favourite track from this album has always been The Long and Winding Road – just shows how we all differ 😉

  13. Paul says:

    Wayne — thanks for stopping by — your post made me laugh! I knew I’d get someone who loved that song 🙂 I have a feeling there could be some debate soon enough when I tackle her 1976 self-titled album…which a lot people love…but me, not so much! Keep your comments coming!

  14. Lawrence says:

    For some reason, even though this isn’t the most cohesive album, I always love playing it. Diana sounds so young and full of life. There is a joy on almost every cut and the covers are fun (and a bit Vegas).

    I think you should do a book with all these essays!!! I’d be happy to help in any way possible. Your articles are so insightful. It’s time someone did a very thorough and critical analysis of her work. Best, Lawrence

    • Paul says:

      Lawrence — there is certainly a youth and vibrance here that I like, too — personally, I just wish a few of the songs had been changed out for others, so that the quality was a little more consistent. And thanks for the comment about a book – – once I get a little further into the blog and post some more reviews, I’ll be thinking about it! I agree that more people need to be aware of what a talented, versatile singer Diana Ross is — when people ONLY refer to her as a “fashion icon” it gets me so irritated!!

  15. spookyelectric says:

    I always thought of this album as one of her weakest of the 70s, and being sandwiched between those two genius Ashford & Simpson didn’t help either. Compared to the craft and ambition of the those, it seemed a little twee and throwaway – covers of hits of the day and a handful of pleasant poppy numbers from various Motown house producers.

    But over time it’s grown on me more and more. I always love her take on Aretha’s ‘Call Me’ but ‘Baby It’s Love’ took a while to get under my skin. The ‘I just started living’ refrain on ‘Doobedoobe’ is of course magnificent – almost touching the heights of her Ashford & Simpson sides. Like you say Paul there’s a youthful energy here that remains over the years. I never was a big fan of ‘I’m Still Waiting’ but I get the appeal of the lyric – of that type of lush pop ballad from her catalogue I always felt ‘All Of My Life’ and ‘Touch Me’ were much stronger – I was surprised when I found out what a huge hit it had been (in the UK that is).

    One last thing – I didn’t realise till very recently the opener ‘My Place’ was originally recorded by Motown group The Devastating Affair (who went on to do backgrounds Diana & Marvin’s ‘You’re A Special Part of Me’, another tune they’d recorded before). I think I prefer their funkier arrangement…

    • Paul says:

      Wow — who knew about the version by The Devastating Affair??? That was news to me! I think their version sounds “fuller” and less tinny than Diana’s ultimate recording, although I’m still not a huge fan of the song — it just still sounds so “70s sitcom theme song” to me!

      • spookyelectric says:

        I know what you mean – there’s something very Mary Tyler Moore about a lot of this record – right down to that odd pose on the sleeve. The whole ‘groovy pop’ approach has dated a lot of it far more that any of her other albums from the period for sure. Still it’s fun.

        Crazy to think how many albums Motown were chucking out on the market with Diana’s name on them at the time – especially when those A&S albums had hit written on virtually every track.

        On more thing – ‘Baby It’s Love’ co-written by Marvin & Anna Gordy – probably the best track on this album all things considered. I recently heard a Miracles album from the early 70s – the stand-out track was ‘I Love You Secretly – written by Marvin & Anna. Had a quick look into what else they wrote together in that period and there’s not a dud tune amongst them – The Originals’ doo-woop soul tunes ‘Baby I’m For Real’ and ‘The Bells’ are incredible, Nancy Wilson’s take on ‘We Can Make It Baby’ is great… worth checking out!!

    • Michael says:

      Finally, someone else who loves All Of My Life from TMITM. Loved that track the first time I heard it!

  16. spookyelectric says:

    Just discovered in the last few weeks that ‘How About You’ is a cover from the late 60s. Deke Richards first recorded the song on Chris Clark – Motown’s answer to Dusty Springfield. The woman who soon become Berry’s girlfriend and later script editor I believe on ‘Lady Sings The Blues’ I believe – lots of connections there! Anyway here’s the CC version – better than Diana’s I think!

    • Paul says:

      WOW!!!!!! Who knew?? Thanks for this! Diana and Chris were strangely connected in many ways — I’d love to ask Diana about Chris today…though it might get me a very angry response!! 🙂

  17. OK, Paul! I’ve now started over on your list to reread and add comments. I actually first purchased this album in January of this year, 2012, when going cold turkey off of a long, ten year stint, of being on massive amounts of pain killing medication, culminating with the equivalent of well over a gram of heroin per day, for over three years by taking the med — oxymorphone. This banned substance (from 1969 until 2006 due to the high incidents of drug overdose deaths in the sixties drug culture, known as “blues” or “nublues” then), is the same formulation of morphine that oxycodone/OxyContin is to codeine. Basically, morphine to the third power. Why tell this part of my sob story? As with all other difficult situations in my life, The Diana Ross music catalog played a saving and redundant role in getting me through such strife, heartache, pain, sadness or all of the above throughout my life. As I headed into day 4 of withdrawal, against my doctors advice, but determined to get off such strangling chemicals, with no drug help or tapering down, I realized the drug withdrawal message boards were correct in what was perceived as excruciating discomfort through day three, suddenly seemed like utopia compared to what was beginning to take over. Won’t go there. But! I knew I needed to pull out the big gun! And yet, the usual playlist and multiple alternate playlists weren’t gonna work this time. i needed new Diana Ross. But what to do? I frantically and manically searched iTunes, and decided to brave it into new DR territory. My first purchase: Everything is Everything. Not sure it was the absolute best choice, of the older and early seventies material, but the cover photo nailed it. 240-plus dollars later I eventually purchased everything in her catalog that was available. All within a 48 hour period. Then, on my own, and with the clarity, only severe drug withdrawal can provide, I discovered an entire period of music that I previously had been a too “modern” Diana fan to bother with. What a decades old mistake! These stellar albums are now labeled on my iPhone as “LSOWD” or Life Saving Opiate Withdrawal Diana. I am a true believer in things happening for a reason/the way they are suppose to, and this discovery still enables me to look back on those extreme 10 to 12 weeks, with mixed feelings of inevitable reactionary and horrific discomfort, anguish and pain and extreme good fortune and positive pleasant recall. Had the drug issue been a non-one, would I have ever even discovered these, now favorite, recordings? And I know for a fact that had I not decided on that fateful day to quite cold turkey; therefore, never grasping for what became LSOWD, I would have never discovered your site and “The Project.” It was my want of the new and extended Baby It’s Me offering this past July that I searched Google and immediately found this great sight. Did a nasty morphine addiction lead me to you and your sight? Maybe. Can you see why I get paid big bucks for writing ad-nausea, overly verbose, self serving, and remarkably tedious passage? Probably! But how serendipitous that after all these decades of devotion and music listening i managed to ignore this best period of her solo output, and then realizing you had decided to chronicle this output, track by track, only months later?

    Enough of my bullshit though, and on to my comments, Which are short and sweet. i agree with everything you wrote, except I LOVE How About You. SO much so, that I have 10 tracks of it in a row on a continuous spool of play on my iPhone. It is quintessential “pop” Diana we have all pined for and continually wanted for years. How this wasn’t a hit in the era of “Angie Baby”, “Dark Lady,” “Sing,” “Teach the World to Sing in Harmony” and other pop 70’s silly, vapid confections is a bewilderment to me. Even my three boys and wife know this song by heart (more on that later). Secondly, Ain’t No Sad Song, Really? The Alternate version? Another great pop confection,now that we can hear the way that song should have been produced with the expanded edition of the LP. Another AM Radio potential hit with the Alternate version has to be acknowledged.

    I promise, no more novels! I just had to share how my discovery of your site and all that goes with it, conspired to come together. I am probably a little to over-stoked (beach dude here, sorry) about finding a forum where persons are actually interested and taking the time for a subject matter that, I myself, have found fascinating and tried to revel in with others, to little or no excitement…until now. On my honor as a paid professional writer, I pledge to cease with the self-centered and self gratifying stories that involve the Big D and my entangled and richly storied life and career…for the most part…unless absolutely necessary to the dialogue…or important for the context of the comment…or integral to expressing a point about a particular time period in relation to a Diana Ro…. “Goddammit Rick, shut the +%# up! He get’s it! OK? Jesus F’n…” …K. sorr… “Don’t even…”

    Best and Thanks, Rick Santamonica

    • Paul says:

      Rick!
      Okay…..wow…..what a story. You are more than welcome to post novel-length comments here, because your story is amazing!!!!!! Let me just say I am so glad that you pulled through your addiction problems, and I’m not in the least bit surprised that Diana was the catalyst in that. That is the power in her music — I have no idea how my life would have turned out had I not had Diana Ross there for me through the years. Albums like EVERYTHING IS EVERYTHING are easy to ignore due to the lack of big hits, but they containe so many hidden treasures! It’s a shame that the general public is unaware of songs like “I Love You” and “Baby It’s Love” — and I TOTALLY agree, “Ain’t No Sad Song” in the alternate version is WONDERFUL — why in the world was that version left in the vaults???

  18. Luke says:

    Paul, despite the fact that I agree with the 99% of your excelent work you’ve done about Miss Ross’ solo discography, I must admit that I disagree with the comparison of almost each song of this fine album with “ain’t no mountain high enough”. Ok, it was a strong song, but it was not the best song Diana Ross ever recorded, in my personal opinion, and it wasn’t an original Diana Ross song too. This album was very good, listenable and entertaining, and much more likely to find success in the charts, if it was released during a less busy period in Miss Ross’ career. She had to promote 3 albums in 2 years, do live performances, give birth to babies, work for her upcoming film projects…!!! too many things to do in 1-2 years! This album, plus the following “Surrender”, are her best early 70s entertaining work, but both were lost in that crazy period. The final song “Close to you” is without doubt among her best solo material!

    • Paul says:

      Hey Luke! See, I DO believe that “Ain’t No Mountain…” is the finest recording Diana ever made; I believe there’s an energy and excitement to the recording that represent her entire persona and career. Perhaps it seems harsh to compare songs to that classic, but because this album was recorded in the same year, I think it demonstrates the wide range of material (in terms of quality) she was working with in those first years. Personally, I’m not sure this album would have been a big success no matter how much material Diana was releasing at the time; I really like many of the songs here, but I don’t quite hear a “classic” in the bunch. This contrasts widely with Surrender — on which EVERY song has the sound of a high-quality classic!

      • spookyelectric says:

        Totally agree with you Paul on this one. ‘Everything Is Everything’ is a nice album, very much of its time and has some lovely moments (not least ‘Doobnedoobne’) but it doesn’t bare comparison to the pair of Ashford & Simpson classics that bookend it in her catalogue. That’s a whole different level of songwriting, singing, arrangements… the works.

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  20. Mose says:

    I don’t even understand how I ended up here, but I assumed this put up used to be good. I don’t recognize who you’re but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger
    if you happen to are not already. Cheers!

  21. Eric says:

    How y’all gonna hate on the album cover? It’s awesome!!! Even beyonce semi-copies it for “dangerously in love”

    I love the original songs on here. How about you and my place are among my fav!

    The long and winding road is among the worst songs ever .,would’ve been cool to hear her perform a cover of “Michelle”

  22. Damecia says:

    Let’s hear it for the album cover! What a gorgeous sight.

    “My Place” is a boring song almost reminiscent of “Let’s Go Up” which is nearly a decade later. It doesn’t hold attention until Miss Ross spoken word bit. I hate how the song comes on with the almost frantic shouting. I agree Paul it would have been great for a 70s sitcom lol.

    “Ain’t No Sad Song” is funky, soulful and playful. I love Ross laid back gritty delivery here. The way she comes on this track drives me crazy. I love the call and response thing that happens with the background singers. I have to disagree with you Paul this song serves a catchy chorus. I would’ve released this as the first single. Something left field and unexpected from Diana Ross. Must also add the horn section is nice too. The lady is such an underrated vocalist!

    “Everything Is Everything” the pet peeve I have with this track is the crazy screaming of “love of my life” lol it is so annoying, but I think this is a far more better and appealing song than “My Place” I like how Diana sings “everything is everything” towards the end. A very nice styling.

    “I’m Still Waiting” definitely the highlight of this album. “Then someone finally came he told me that he loved me, I put him off with lies, he could tell I had no eyes, so he left me” a song filled with such heartache, heartbreak and despair. How could you not sympathize with the woman. Especially with those “come back boy’s” near the end. And those “little girl’s” and the spoken word bit. Not to mention the instrumentation was beautiful. Was the American public “just a fool” for not making this number one?

    “I want to shout Hallelujah!” “Doobedood’ndoobe, Doobedood’ndoobe, Doobedood’ndoo” has always been an odd song and I mean this in a good way. I love how it incorporates so many genres. It’s gospel, soul, pop, psychedelic, and adult contemporary. Ross delivers a great vocal here loves those “ow’s” lol.

    Paul I fully agree that “Come Together” as you say “The first of two Beatles covers, this one is certainly the far superior.” It’s funky, it’s soulful, it’s Motown. I also like Michael’s cover better than the original too even though you really can’t compare.

    Paul I enjoy the MOR-ish “Long and Winding Road” I can’t get down with your critique of it lol.

    You took all the words out of my mouth for “(I Love You) Call Me” lol

    I disagree. I think “How About You” was a great follow up to an incredible song. Not bad at all.

    Everytime I hear the Carpenters’ “Close To You’ I want to sing it like Ross. Great cover!

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  38. barry murphy says:

    Just one thing I can’t agree on,just love “The long and winding road”

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  40. Hello! One of the interesting things I’m finding revisiting the Ross catalogue 5 years on is that I now know these records much better. This means relistening in a very different way because most of these had only just been rereleased in expanded editions and were my first foray into the expanded universe beyond Greatest Hits packages we were used to. Everything is Everything is definitely more a hodge podge than the previous LP but being a fan of the latter Supreme records it conditions you to this kind of track listing…I’m going to have to disagree with you still on ‘Long & Winding Road’ and offer that for me everything you write in regards to the track I would offer on ‘Close to You’…while agreeing that The Carpenters release is a mini recording miracle, I find Diana’s version cloying and the gospel choir close to horrifying (with a wink). I find ‘Road’ kind of a fabulous come down from ‘Come Together’ a real switch in tone that comes off as considered and thoughtful…different horses and such I suppose!
    ‘Everything is Everything’ has always been a tougher entry in Miss Ross’ catalog to get into but once I surrender (no pun intended…or intended?!) to its shifts in style and tone it really has some fabulous moments! Nice to come back round to these first three records especially with better knowledge of each record and the opportunity to really find more hidden gems beyond the hits. 😀

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