An Evening With Diana Ross (1977)

An Evening With Diana Ross

“All I ever wanted was the music, and the chance to sing for you…”

If you asked several people on the street to name Diana Ross’s greatest achievement, you’d probably get a variety of answers.  Some would surely say Lady Sings The Blues; others would name songs like “I’m Coming Out” or “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”  A lot would probably say her time with the Supremes, or name one of the 12 #1 hits the group had with Diana singing lead.  But chances are almost nobody would call out her one-woman show, An Evening With Diana Ross, which she toured with and won a special Tony Award for following its run at Broadway’s Palace Theatre.

This is a shame, because An Evening With Diana Ross really displays the artist at the very zenith of her accomplishments.  The stage show – along with this double-LP recorded in Los Angeles and the Emmy-nominated television special built around it – is a masterful display of Diana Ross doing what she does best – putting on an energetic, versatile, fast-paced show filled with hit songs, standards, and some surprising inclusions.  This is much more than a concert; it’s a song-and-story performance, in the same way that the more recent Elaine Stritch At Liberty is.  Brilliantly directed by Joe Layton (known for his work on Broadway like Barnum and with Barbra Streisand on her early, successful television specials), the show tells the story of Diana Ross at various points in her life; she uses Harry Nilsson’s The Point! to talk about her children, songs from A Chorus Line to illustrate becoming an actress, and devotes sections to the story of Motown, the Supremes, and the great ladies of jazz and blues like Billie Holiday and Josephine Baker.  It is a grand, overblown musical spectacular from start to finish, and never once loses the momentum set from the beginning with her mash-up of “Here I Am” and “I Wouldn’t Change A Thing.”

Best of all, the show is extremely successful as an album.  Unlike Diana’s 1974 album release Live At Caesar’s Palace, the incredible energy displayed Diana Ross in her vocal performances compensates for the lack of visuals.  There is so much more than music included here, which means the song choices are always explained and make perfect sense in context with one another (whereas certain sections of Caesar’s Palace seemed to come from out of nowhere).  Diana is in fine voice throughout – in fact, she’s in more than fine voice.  The nightly demands of doing this show clearly worked her vocal chords into tip-top shape; her performances here are extremely powerful, far more impressive than anything she’d displayed on her past few albums.

Because the album is long and includes many song-snippets as part of medleys, I’ll review it both track-by-track and also by section, depending on what makes more sense to me.  It is, however, a work best listened to straight-through; as a whole, this is a brilliantly conceived show, and the album – thankfully – captures just how creative and dynamic Diana was at her peak of stardom.

***

Overture/Here I Am/I Wouldn’t Change A Thing:  Aside from the exciting “TCB” at the beginning of the Supremes’ Farewell album, I think this is the best opening of a recorded Diana Ross show; the instrumental overture, made up of music from the Mahogany soundtrack, leads into Diana’s stunning medley of “Here I Am” and “I Wouldn’t Change A Thing,” in which she’s in full, commanding voice.  The lyrics perfectly sum up the entire show that will follow; Diana sings “Here I Am, and here I’ll always stay…wanting you…needing you…” to her audience, expressing appreciation that fans have been part of her life and assuring them she wouldn’t have it any other way.  Again, her vocals are powerful and energetic; she sounds so much more vibrant than she had on Live At Caesar’s Palace.  As she belts out the final word of the medley, holding “stay” for several seconds at the top of her register, she truly sounds like a Broadway star — in fact, her voice sounds far more powerful here than on most of her recorded work, which is competely opposite of most singers, who can’t always match their studio output in live performance.

The Lady Is A Tramp:  Here we go again with this standard, which was pretty much a guarantee at a Diana Ross concert by this point.  She’d recorded versions with the Supremes on Live At London’s Talk Of The Town and Farewell, and on her own Live At Caesar’s Palace.  I imagine that for Diana, this was an easy inclusion that she knew would keep the energy pumping; certainly she could sing it in her sleep.  For fans aware of her discography, the song is a little tired (I still think the best version is on Farewell), but she sounds good and again, it was probably a sure-fire way to help get her voice warmed up early in the show and to get audiences moving in their seats.

Touch Me In The Morning:  After a quick welcome to fans (“Hello, LA!” she says, because the LP was recorded during the show’s stint at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles), she eases into her 1973 #1 hit.  The tempo of the song is slightly increased, which it gives a nice groove, and Diana sings in a far more “show-biz-y” manner than she had on the original recording, which makes sense given the context.  The placement of the song early in the show is clearly to please fans who were coming to hear Diana sing her hits; she’s still easing audiences into what will be an extended musical journey.

Smile/Send In The Clowns:  Diana introduces “Smile” as one of her favorite songs, and turns in a lovely, effective performance of the popular tune written by Charlie Chaplin.  The recorded version released on 1976’s Diana Ross was over-produced and overly saccharine, but it works far better here as part of a live show, and Diana’s vocals are more brassy and less syrupy, which makes the song more palatable.  It then segues nicely into the Sondheim classic “Send In The Clowns,” from which Diana sings a few lines (including the great “Isn’t it rich…isn’t it queer…losing my timing this late in my career?”).  There’s an extended musical break during which there’s clearly a visual performance going on, but it’s still a nice inclusion here and keeps things moving.

Love Hangover:  This was, of course, Diana’s big hit at the time; the song had sailed to #1 on the pop and R&B charts in 1976 and had earned her a Grammy nomination.  Here, it serves basically as the closing of the show’s extended “introduction” (and comes at the end of Side A of the original LP release); everything to this point has been handled in the fashion of a typical concert, and the songs have not been bound together by stories.  However, from here on out, that will change, and the numerous autobiographical segments will begin.  Much of “Love Hangover” consists of Diana’s pre-recorded vocals (which she jokingly points out to the audience by talking at the same time her voice is singing) — I assume this was a chance for her to make a costume change and prepare for what comes next.

Girls:  Diana sings a cute, short rendition of John Phillips’s “Girls” — which she uses to discuss her own three children, Rhonda, Tracee, and Chudney.  Her stage patter here is really funny and delivered with perfect comic timing (i.e. “I have girls in my bathroom, girls in my closet, girls wearing my shoes, my lipstick, my perfume, sleeping with my husband…).  She also explains that the next few songs come at the request of her daughter Rhonda, and comprise her favorite story…

The Point (Everybody’s Got ‘Em/Me And My Arrow/Lifelife/Everybody’s Got ‘Em [Reprise]):  Rhonda’s “favorite story” (don’t you wonder if it really was?) is the tale of Oblio, the little “round-headed” boy in the Land of Point.  The Point! had been an animated special and album written by singer Harry Nilsson; his album had been released in 1971 and the film aired on ABC the same year.  Diana uses three of the album’s songs to tell the story, acting out the parts of various characters (her different voices are pretty entertaining) and weaving in narration and the songs.  Diana Ross is obviously a gifted musical storyteller, and “The Point” segment here is a lot of fun; because it’s well-known just how much of a devoted mother she is and how fond she is of children in general, it makes perfect sense that she’d dedicate part of her show to them.  “Lifeline” in particular is a lovely performance, showcasing gorgeous harmonies between Diana and her background singers, The Jones Girls.

The Working Girls (Lady Sings The Blues/T’ain’t Nobody’s Bizness If I Do/I Cried For You/Aux Iles Hawaii/Stormy Weather/Jump In The Pot [And Let’s Get Hot][Instrumental]/I Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl/My Man):  From her own three girls, Diana transitions to another set of girls — “the working girls” — Billie Holiday, Josephine Baker, Ethel Waters, and Bessie Smith.  Diana’s tribute to these jazz and blues divas is a real highlight of the show, as she croons pieces of their most famous songs and tells the story of each lady.  Her affection for Billie Holiday is a given, of course, as Diana had played Holiday in the Oscar-nominated film Lady Sings The Blues in 1972.  Her rendetions of Holiday standards like “Lady Sings…” and “I Cried For You” are excellent as always.  However, her interpretations of the other women’s work is particularly exciting, as it’s something totally new for Miss Ross.  She turns in an exuberant performance of Baker’s “Aux Iles Hawaii,” sexily murmuring the French lyrics (her quick, French spoken interlude is inspired and hilarious), and her high, breathy reading of Waters’s “Stormy Weather” is surprising in its freshness — it’s a shame she never recorded a full version of this classic, as she sounds gorgeous on it, especially her stunning high notes at the end.  Diana tackles Smith’s “I Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl” with an unexpected raciness, sounding as earthy and raunchy as Smith must have in her day, before nicely wrapping things up with “My Man” from the Lady soundtrack.  It’s impossible to listen to this section of Diana’s show and not become totally entranced in it; her breathless energy and the ease with which she takes on the different styles of four musical pioneers is impressive to say the least.  This is Diana Ross at her artistic best; it’s work like this that the public ought to be more familiar with, for it shows just how aware Ross was and is of her heritage as an African-American artist and how that legacy has impacted her own career.

The Motown Story (Overture/Money [That’s What I Want]/Please Mr. Postman/I Want You Back/Fingertips/You Keep Me Hangin’ On/Baby Love/Someday We’ll Be Together):  Act II of An Evening With Diana Ross begins with a slamming instrumental overture of Motown classics before Diana arrives on stage and begins soulfully belting out Barrett Strong’s classic “Money (That’s What I Want).”  This begins her musical tribute to Motown, the record company that launched about a thousand careers (including Diana’s) and provided the soundtrack to the 1960s.  Diana sounds youthful and vibrant on her renditions of songs like “Please Mr. Postman,” “Fingertips,” and “I Want You Back” — it’s fun to hear her take on famous songs by her colleagues.  She nails “I Want You Back,” nicely matching little Michael Jackson’s vocals, before launching into her own Supremes classics “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” and “Baby Love.”  Though it had been more than a decade since she’d recorded either song, she sounds just as young and energetic as she had on the original recordings, and stays much truer to the spirit of the original studio recordings than she had when she sang them in her last few years as a Supreme (and turned them into big-band numbers that really didn’t sound like Motown at all).  Her voice on “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” in particular sounds strong and full, and more soulful than it had in any recorded performance of the song before.  Instead of singing “Someday We’ll Be Together,” she speaks over the instrumental, introducing Smokey Robinson in the audience and singing a snippet of the early Supremes non-hit “A Breathtaking Guy,” which he’d written for the group.

The Supremes (Stop! In The Name Of Love/You Can’t Hurry Love/Reflections/My World Is Empty Without You/I Hear A Symphony):  The high-octane tribute to Motown continues with an extended medley of hits by the Supremes, which is lengthier than anything Diana generally included in her solo shows.  It’s especially nice to hear “Reflections,” a song that hadn’t been included in her medley on the Live At Caesar’s Palace LP a few years earlier.  It’s also a chance for Diana to call out The Jones Girls (“Don’t they sound like the Supremes?” Diana asks), her backing voices on this show.  The Jones Girls, of course, would go on to have hits of their own, and Shirley Jones would score a #1 R&B hit in 1986, “Do You Get Enough Love” — Shirley remembers Diana’s encouragement in The Billboard Book Of Number One R&B Hits, “’[Diana] told us we were ready to break out on our own and she was going to do everything she could to help us’” (369).  Diana clearly knows that much of her audience holds a strong sentimental attachment to her hits with the Supremes, and she milks that here; judging from its recorded reaction, the crowd was eating it up.  But Diana also seems to be having fun with the songs; her breathless energy running through her hits is far more effort than some artists would probably give to songs they’d sung so many times.

Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand):  Diana’s first solo hit again serves as a way for her to connect with her audience; as she’d been doing and would continue to do, she leads the crowd in a sing-along and asks them to join hands and sway along to the music.  Thankfully, unlike on the Caesar’s Palace live album, she keeps the microphone to herself.  On that earlier album, she’d allowed others to sing into the mic with her for nearly seven minutes, which – without the benefit of seeing the people and their reactions – made for a trying listening experience.  The truncated version here is far more effective, especially since it’s still possible to hear fans singing along and clapping.  Diana, meanwhile, sings the heck out of the song at the end; her ad-libs are probably the most powerful that she’d ever performed on “Reach Out and Touch.”

One Giant Step (The Music And The Mirror/What I Did For Love/Improvisations/Dance: Ten; Looks: Three):  This – along with the “Working Girls” segment – is the unqualified highlight of An Evening With Diana Ross; it’s a fun, touching, and downright electrifying segment about Diana’s decision to go solo and embark on an acting career, all set to songs from the Broadway hit A Chorus Line.  That show had opened on Broadway in 1975, won the Best Musical Tony Award, and became one of the most successful musicals of all time, thanks in large part to the strong songs by Marvin Hamlisch.  Diana uses four of the most well-known (although she doesn’t use the musical’s signature song, “One”) to trace her “one giant step” away from the Supremes.  Her performances of “The Music And The Mirror” and “What I Did For Love” and as bold and brassy as anything you’d expect from a seasoned Broadway performer; she easily belts out the extended notes called for by both numbers, and especially soars at the climax of “What I Did…”  Next Diana moves on to “Improvisations,” a light, upbeat tune about her uneasiness in an acting class during improv exercises.  As with some of her earlier segments, her comic timing here is impeccable, especially as she pokes fun at herself and her figure and segues into “Dance: 10; Looks: 3,” which features the famous refrain “Tits and ass!” – which Diana gleefully sings, lamenting the fact that to be a Hollywood star, she needs larger…well…assets!  Hearing Diana utter a little profanity is pretty entertaining in and of itself, but her performance here really is a marvel; her voice is strong and elastic, and she makes the well-known songs completely her own.  It’s a perfectly crafted segment; this is Diana Ross showmanship at its finest and, again, is the kind of thing casual fans would likely be bowled over by.  This is also another example of the power Diana Ross was capable of displaying in her voice; she sounds like she could have been part of the original A Chorus Line cast, and it kind of makes you wish that she had originated a role in a Broadway musical at some point in her career.

Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To):  Listing off some of her idols – African-American pioneers like Langston Hughes and Lorraine Hansberry – Diana begins singing her recent #1 hit, the theme from her popular 1975 film.  She performs a shortened version here, only about a minute or so, but it’s a nice vocal, and it’s nice to hear the crowd go wild as she begins the first few lyrics, a reminder that Diana Ross really was at the peak of her popularity here.  As she would do for the rest of her career, Diana uses this song to lead into her climactic song, and anthem…

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough:  A chief complaint of mine with Live At Caesar’s Palace was the fact that Diana’s first solo #1 hit had been placed in the middle of that show; the song, a glorious, dramatic classic, is so strong that it literally brought that album to a screeching halt from which is struggled to recover.  Here, “Ain’t No Mountain…” is in its perfect place, a brilliant climax to an overwhelmingly superb show.  After displaying her gifts as a performer and so easily interpreting songs from other artists, it’s appropriate that An Evening With Diana Ross ends with a song of her own, and the one that is perhaps Diana’s greatest achievement as a recording artist.  What’s truly remarkable is that coming after more than an hour of high-voltage singing, Diana Ross still injects the song with the vigor it deserves; she must have been physically exhausted each night at the end of her show, but you’d never know it listening to her performance here.  It’s always a thrill hearing Diana Ross perform this song, and it’s especially a thrill hearing it come at the end of on one of her greatest creations as an entertainer.

***

To listen to An Evening With Diana Ross is to be confronted with the enormity of talent that Diana Ross possesses in all its glory; it’s impossible to listen to this double LP and not come away with the feeling that you’ve just heard something truly great.  There are lots of great singers in the world, and there are some impressive live performers, too.  Diana Ross is both of these things, but she’s much more than that; An Evening With Diana Ross manages to capture the staggering lengths she will go to in order to entertain an audience.  There is never a single moment on An Evening With Diana Ross when it sounds like Diana Ross is giving less than all of herself, and that is a gift that she shares with very few of her contemporaries.  Though most casual fans have no idea anymore that Diana Ross was given a Tony, or that she even appeared on Broadway, this is one of the great moments in her career; thank God it was recorded and can still be enjoyed today.

Final Analysis:  5/5 (“One Giant Step” To Perfection)

Choice Cuts:  One Giant Step segment, The Working Girls segment, “Here I Am/I Wouldn’t Change A Thing”

Trivia:
Diana Ross was given a Special Award at the 1977 Tony Awards for An Evening With Diana Ross.  According to the Internet Broadway Database, on Broadway, the show played at the Palace Theatre from June 14, 1976-July 6, 1976.

Advertisements

About Paul

Album-by-album, track-by-track, a look at the entire Diana Ross discography...
This entry was posted in Live Album and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to An Evening With Diana Ross (1977)

  1. Tony Agro says:

    I listend to this album – over and over again. Diana seemed to having a great time signing each song—- inner voice came through as beautifully as her singing voice. I Love ” I wouldn’t Change a Thing” an wish she would record it in the studio. He voice really does mach that Johnny Bristol , Teddy Pendergras- style soul !

    • Paul says:

      Tony — so well put, the “inner voice” is definitely ringing through! I wish she would’ve recorded “I Wouldn’t Change…” too — I’m not familiar with that song’s history…who recorded it first?

    • John Scahill says:

      I was lucky enough to see this show as part of her European tour in 1976. 3rd row centre new Victoria theatre London. I remember the show got a lot of criticism in uk press. But in my opinion it was a fore runner of many of the concept shows that followed. The start of the show (here I am) where clips from mahogany were shown on her dress was amazing and I think (stand to be corrected ) this was the show where she moved from do you know into ain’t no mountain which did (and still) gives me goosebumps. One other highlight was her singing lifeline from the point a much longer version than is included on the recording her voice and emotion were wonderful. I have been lucky enough to see her many time since that first show, but it will always be special to me. As special as I think she is to many .
      Light love and peace to you all

  2. ejluther says:

    Really wonderful review (as always) – thank you for all your hard and inspired writing, it’s always a joy to read and I’m sure Ross fans are eating it up!

    I just listened to this myself the other day and it is really terrific. It was also a TV Special broadcast in 1977 as “An Evening with Diana Ross” that has yet to see the light of day in a video release (although you can find some low-quality clips of it on Youtube and bootleg copies floating around). Now that her Central Park concert is getting an official new release, I’m hoping the rest of her TV specials get the same treatment…

    Bring on BABY, IT’S ME!

    • Paul says:

      ejluther — I am dying to see the TV special from 1977 — and like everyone else, just don’t get why it’s not on DVD! Seeing that Central Park is coming out is encouraging…I hope it’s only the beginning. With people finally starting to re-evaluate and appreciate Diana Ross, seeing the amazing energy of her live performances would done a world of good in opening up eyes to her talent. Get ready for Baby It’s Me…coming next Sunday…you can probably already guess it’s another 5/5!! Listening again to the album right now is only making me appreciate it more…sonds like “The Same Love That Made Me Laugh” are so excellent!

  3. Antje says:

    5 out of 5! Such a shame, I have to admit I even don’t know this album (but of course that it exists). Back then, EMI did not make a good job on promoting Motown in my country, Germany. The albums’ sleeves were reduced to a minimum – just the front cover, back plain white listing the songs only, never a fold-out. Double LPs were offered as single ones, e.g. the Supremes’ farewell. I don’t remember if “An evening with…” was released here – and if so, I think I did not buy it since I was so annoyed with the life recordings of Diana Ross with or without the Supremes.
    After reading your review, I envy everybody who watched this show live on stage. I saw her 1976 in Hamburg – well, to be honest, I was not mesmerized (it was the show including the mimes). And I started to lose interest in her music.
    I will try to buy the album on the internet and surely enjoy listening – thank you, Paul, made my day!
    And you are so right – still nowadays hearing her sing “Ain’t no mountain …” along with thousands of people in the audience – as I was lucky to experience two years ago – is very very special.

    • Paul says:

      Antje — you saw her live in 1977 — now I am officially jealous of you!!! I so wish I could have seen her live back in the 70s, when she was in the prime of her popularity! What albums/songs made you regain interest in her music after you lost interest in the 70s? Are you a fan of her late 70s and 80s stuff the most?

      • Antje says:

        Actually, first time ever I saw her was 1973 in Paris, by chance. There are some clips on YouTube now, all black and white …
        A bit more than two years ago, somebody borrowed me the “Reflections”-DVD. You must know, I can only remember one performance televised on German TV, that must have been “The Happening”. I fell for Motown – although of course this song isn’t Motown at all -, not particularly The Supremes as a group. But Diana Ross was always my favorite because of that “special something” in her voice. Unfortunately she hardly appeared on German TV – if ever, except for some videoclips of the 80s, which I did not like, and the movie “Lady sings..” – at least!. And I must admit I had ignored the late 70s/early 80s albums standing on the shelf all these years. After watching the DVD, I was curious to learn what Diana Ross had been doing musically since “Why do fools …”, last album I had bought. So I made up for almost 30 years (praise to the internet!). Result: Now I am an adict. And of course I regret missing her performances during these years, she toured Germany quite often.
        My favorite albums are her first solo one, “Take me higher”, “Everyday is …” and (yes!) “Working overtime”. I agree with Ian Phillips – if it had been for another artist, e.g.Madonna, it would have been hailed as a masterpiece. And I am extremly fond of the ballads on “Red-Hot…”. Right now “It’s hard for me to say” is playing – LOVE IT!
        Hope I did not bore you -and the readers- with this lengthly and personal reply, Paul.

      • Paul says:

        Antje — that’s great that her newer material made you a fan again, and guess what — I quite like “Workin’ Overtime” too! It’s got a bad reputation, but I think it’s a pretty solid album, and actually like it better than many of her 80s albums! I also think “Take Me Higher” is one of her 3 best albums (the other 2 being “Surrender” and “Baby It’s Me”). Even though her sales slipped from the mid-80s onward, she was still recording and releasing great music in many cases, for sure.

  4. chris meklis says:

    You are so talented Paul, and this is coming from a writer who would love to write as descriptively as you!
    But I know that this phenomenon called Diana Ross is your passion, and your love for her shines and resonates through-.
    What is remarkable, is the respect with which you treat this discography. Unlike a lot of critics and music writers who toss up the whole bunch of albums and songs in a mix, your careful look at each track recorded by Miss. Ross is so fitting an honour to such a legend and such a prolific body of recorded work.

    For this I salute you and thank you a million times over!

    By the way…I have a DVD copy of the entire 1977 TV special (albeit from an old video cassette with not crystal clarity), should you wish to have one finally 🙂
    Yes admittedly its a bootlegger- but for Heaven’s sake what else are we die hard fans to do whilst the proverbial ‘powers that be’ decide to get off their derrieres and zap such treasures on DVD, the way they have thankfully done with such projects as ‘Surrender’; ‘Everything is Everything’; Last Time I Saw Him’; ‘Diana Ross’ and ‘Diana’ on remastered CD expanded editions!?

    Wonderful work- cant wait for my all time favs like Baby It’s Me!

    Kind Regards and Lots of Love!
    Chris
    (South Africa)
    BTW- thought I’d make you a bit more jealous….I got to meet Diana Ross backstage after both her appearances in South Africa- first back in 1998 during her ‘Voice of Love’ tour when our then president and icon Nelson Mandela actually joined Dina on stage- hugged and kissed her and swayed with her whilst she sang “Only Love Can Conquer All” and “Voice of The Heart”….
    The second time was 2005 and I also had a picture with her daughter Chudney back stage, got to talk with Evan and Rhonda and of course talk to and kiss miss Ross backstage and on stage when she called me up to dance during ‘It’s My House”!

    Thanks for keeping us entertained and glued to your blog! xxx

    • Paul says:

      Chris — wow — what a nice message!!! Thanks so much 🙂 Glad you’re enjoying the site…and please keep the comments coming. I’d LOVE to see a copy of the ’77 TV special! E-mail me at dianarossproject@gmail.com — maybe we can do a trade if I have anything you’d like!
      By the way…SOOOOOOOO jealous about your Diana concert appearances! I’ve seen her four times in concert but never even come close to meeting her! I can’t imagine your joy at being able to dance onstage with her…how wonderful!!!
      Paul

    • susan says:

      i would really love to obtain a dvd copy of an evening with diana ross from tv if possible. pa response if you can thank youlease e-mail me

  5. Richie says:

    Paul, I’m addicted to your blog! I’m a lifelong fan (I saw the Supremes in concert in 1968 when I was 5 years old and met them when my 8-year-old brother and I snuck backstage; yes, security was lax in those days!). I was also at the Central Park concerts. And I also saw this show on Broadway and I wanted to add a little fact for you: during “Love Hangover,” someone brought her a glass of water (she had asked for it before the song) and her recorded voice kept singing as she drank. It was really funny to me at the time (I was 12 at this point). And then, when she left the stage to change costume, they brought out a life-size cardboard cutout of Miss Ross to take her place as the record played. It’s been way too long since I saw the TV special. Did they do this little joke on there, too?

    Keep up the great work!

    • Paul says:

      Thanks, Richie!! I LOVE that you snuck backstage at 5 years old…though I’m terribly jealous about it! I had heard about the cardboard cut-out thing, but never the glass of water — that’s funny! And interestingly, Diana kind of did that joke again years later when she sang “I Will Survive” on David Letterman and ran out of the studio next door for a Snapple — did you ever see that performance? I love it!

  6. Julius Maloney says:

    Firstly I’ve been a Diana Ross fan since I was 8 years old and over the years have pretty much tried to collect all of her back catalogue in all forms (LP, Cassette, CD and now Mp3) this is the one record that continues to elude me. I owned it on vinyl where I must have played it over & over. To find it in any other modern format however is close to impossible as the secondary market CD releases have An Evening with Diana Ross going for a small fortune. My finger has glided over the ‘To Buy’ button a Amazon more than once. I live in hope that the folks at Hip-O records have this on their horizon for re-release. Thank you (or not :-P) for reminding me of the genius of this pocket of Miss Ross’s career. Also for this genius blog… I can’t believe I just discovered it. There are now hours of fun to be had!

    • Paul says:

      Hey Julius! It’s sad that “Evening…” is so hard to find these days, as it’s a master-work. I’ve been lucky enough to find it twice in the past few years in used CD stores, picking each up for only a few bucks! Enjoy reading through the blog — I look forward to your comments!

      • I just had to let you know, due to this fabulous Blog that I finally pressed the ‘To Buy’ at Amazon (yes a whole $65 later) on ‘An Evening with Diana Ross’. I am currently listening to it for the first time in probably 15 years. It simply is as fabulous as I remember, and worth every penny.

        The glorious Miss Ross at her very, very best.

        Thank you Paul for reminding me I was missing this part of my personal soundtrack.

      • Paul says:

        I LOVE that you love it like I do. WELL worth the 65 bucks, huh?? It is truly Diana at her peak.

  7. Joe Quintana says:

    I am incredibly envious of anyone who has heard this album or has it. I have been dying for ITunes to release it. I performed the role of Mike in A Chorus Line for a community theatre group and it is one of my favorite plays, to hear Ms. Ross’ take on it would be amazing. Such a shame certain albums of hers are out-of-print in the U.S.A.

  8. jtoma84 says:

    Thank you! You’re officially my favorite person of the moment. 🙂

  9. Joe Quintana says:

    Got it Paul! Thank you so much I love it.

  10. Tone B Hurt says:

    I wish to thank you for sharing your sincere-spirited- appreciative insight and review regarding one of Miss Ross’ supreme achievments of her career. This remains along with The Pointer Sisters “Live At The SF Opera House” (also a very underrated achievment from 1974 by that pioneering group)one of the true musical inspirations of my life to this very day! I purchased AEWDR when I was an 11 year old student in the 6th grade. Even then I knew it was something very special. I played it all day and everyday and then some. I still remember hearing the first radio ad for it one morning while waking up to prepare for school. It still pains me that I was not able to attend this spectacular when it played at the Shubert Theatre in Philadelphia that year. My family could not afford the then high $25 ticket price. But people I have talked who were able to see it say they never forgot it! I am hoping that it is remastered & reissued properly for cd. I would be satisfied with a mint-condition lp. A true crowning achievment for a spectacular career and woman.
    Keep on keeping the information and history alive.

    • Paul says:

      Thank you for reading/commenting — this is SUCH an accomplishment for Miss Ross — a stunning showcase from start to finish. This should be required listening for all young entertainers!

  11. Tone B Hurt says:

    I would like to share that I was fortunate to see Miss Ross here in Philadelphia at the old SPECTRUM Stadium March 26 1979(her birthday)months prior to the release of TheBoss. It is still my favorite concert of all time PERIOD! And I have seen and been thrilled by many of the greats. This show is similar to the very popular HBO special that aired later that year which was recorded at Caesar’s Palace-Las Vegas after the release of The Boss. Artist legend Andy Warhol was quoted from his diaries as being very impressed and wowed at the INCREDIBLE opening of her show during opening night in LA which ironically was the night before I saw her. That’s when Philly was still a stomping ground for show starts. Miss Ross still remembers that from her early Motortown Review days. Before The Supremes became stars Philadelphia embraced their early records and saw something special in them as artists. A few years a classic-rare multi-photo poster with several Skrebneski images along with several other memorabilia was stolen from me. No monetary amount can repay me from that loss. That poster was the basis of her famous full-paged press ads during her tour. She is one of the true masters of giving her audience all she’s got on stage as if her life depended on it. Which I think it truly did. I would like a cd gift of AEWDR also lol. I’ll send email request if possible and whatever the costs let me know. There is a site that will make a professional digital copy of AEWDR + send along a copy of the original LP. Depending on how much you wish to pay for combo the quality of the LP condition vary. Mint-very good etc. I will retrieve info and share with site if ok. I just haven’t taken advantage of it myself yet. I just kept hoping for a quality major label release. I’m just anxious to experience the joy of the music again by this point.

  12. pnyc1969 says:

    The first paragraph is very interesting to think about. I’ll add that casual fans tend to mention Central Park as the crowning Ross achievement. But as good as that show was, serious fans recognize that by that time she was coasting just a little bit. The 70s shows were always better executed and this one was incredible and, yes, sort of her “lost” show.

    Some ideas that I will throw into the conversation: It is surprising that she was still singing “Tramp” so many years into her solo career (She even did it in Japan in 1978). It’s really the only connection to the Supremes era live shows besides the actual Supremes hits. I think we tend to separate the pre/post solo parts of her career very discretely and this is a good reminder that there was actually some lingering continuity.

    Smile is extremely elegant and it is very satisfying to hear Diana sing Sondheim even it it’s only a few lines.

    The Working Girls would surprise any casual fan. Her French singing is quite good (It might be considered her “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi”!). Stormy Weather is masterful, one of her best live performances. I love the way she jumps up to the high note in “keeps”, slides 4 notes on “the” and increases her volume on “time” as she holds the note. That’s a very Barbra technique! Sugar in my Bowl, like Tits and Ass, will shock everyone who thinks she’s not soulful (yawn!).

    This is my favorite live version of Reach Out. Actually, it’s the only live version I enjoy. She is fabulous at the end when she changes key and then sings against the melody and belts out that high note on “Touch”.

    What I did for Love is pure elegance. Her voice is crystal clear and intricate, especially at the end. Yes, a B’way role would have really capped out her career and she could’ve done it. (No disrespect to Stephanie Mils but Diana was far superior on the Wiz songs. Even people that don’t like Ross have told me this.)

  13. Patrick says:

    Hey Paul.

    I just found your blog and am loving it. your analysis for each song is great. It gives me something new to listen to or a new appreciation for what I’m already aware.

    As a fellow Supremes and Diana Ross fan, I love finding any new trivia from fellow fans….so ….from me on this record….

    I saw Diana Ross on Broadway at the Palace in 1976 when I was 15. I was a huge fan since I was 9, though I remember seeing them on tv before then…I thought they were Chinese, because of their eye make-up. I knew them as the group that looks Chinese but mom says they aren’t.

    So…clearly I was thrilled to finally see her live. Top price for tickets at that time was very high – 15.00. You had a better chance of getting good seats at the box office, than ticketmaster, so my parents went with me to the box office. I was very disappointed that I got only 5th row seats. Still though, I got the feeling diana would catch my eye and we shared eye contact and it felt as though she was singing just to me. Her talent of steadily maintaining eye contact with the audience during her shows is true show biz genius. You feel Ike you want to melt when those heavy lidded eyes look at you.

    The show was great and by the end of “ain’t no mountain” the audience was on their feet and went wild. You can only hear a snippet at the end of the show of the audience reaction. I always wished they recorded more to capture the audience’s love for Diana.

    The actual order of the songs is different from the album. After “ain’t no…” She did a costume change and came back to sings “reach out and touch”. So, what you are hearing is the audience settling back and basking Diana in adoration.

    The show got rave reviews. See if you can find the daily news review….it said she had the power to make a cripple throw away his crutches and walk. The show broke box office records at the palace theatre and was extended for another week, which was a big deal then. Somewhat controversially, she divorced her husband opening week. She has ALWAYS had naysayers who said things like she shouldn’t be singing to her daughters the same week she divorced their father.

    You should also buy the album on eBay, because it has a foldout cover with concert pictures inside. When she sang “I wouldn’t change a thing” she extended her arms and mimes came out and pulled cloth from her dress where a video clip was played onto while she kept her arms up. Also, during “smile” the stage action is a little skit where diana wears a sad face and the mimes try to make her smile, which she eventually does, off course.

    The extended monologue about her idols was not in the broadway show, but added later. One gets the feeling that this concert was her breakout from motown’s overbearing watch.

    As you know, I’m sure, the cd is soon to be released. She is also on tour this summer and her shows are just as great as back then. She now sings with nothing to prove or lose, but to just have a good time.

  14. Pingback: Diana Ross Sings “Home” (A Retrospective) | THE DIANA ROSS PROJECT

  15. lukas1980 says:

    i compare this thrill ride of a show to judy @ carnegie hall or barbras comeback in 94. my aunt gave me her vinyl copy back when i was about 4 in the early 80s. it taught me how 2 read for gods sake!!! i would pore over that gatefold for hours at a time dreaming of what was happening on that stage! needless to say my life was set on ross from then & continues today. i actually have a cd copy from the early 90s; was my first cd purchase after my 13th bday. now the import copy?! ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE! here i am @ 33 years old & im just as excited & obsessed as i was as a child; still on repeat fascinating over the gatefold. hands down this album made my life! the single most important recording ive ever had the privelege to hear and own for the majority of my life. thank u for this wonderful sight

  16. lukas1980 says:

    thank you for this marvelous website, thank you to miss ross for being in my life and thanks to my aunt julanne for introducing me to the world of ross; it has made me who i am today. without ross i am nothing!

  17. Bill kenny says:

    I was 17 when I saw this show at the palace theater in NYC. It was and remains the greatest performance I’ve ever seen by any artist. She was at her absolute physical peak and when she appeared on stage, she was electric. Her beauty and charisma were astonishing. When she came into the audience, people literally fainted at her touch. I’ve seen many greats in person, including Streisand, Midler, Cher, Beyoncé Celine, and none of them came close in the charisma department. It’s hard to describe to anyone who wasn’t there, but this show was the stuff of legends. I too am grateful that it was captured on record, though I still wonder why the Broadway version was not recorded.

  18. James Grattan says:

    Greetings Paul, from a breezy night here on the island. I downloaded “An evening..” on ITUNES recently and I was transported a few decades back. Though I didn’t hear this album until years after the fact, it was this concert, more than anything of Diana’s I had heard before, that took me over the edge from casual fan…to…well…I don’t have to explain it to you:))) I just remember being enraptured by the entire concert. First her voice was so different on the recording…and that speaking voice!!! Well, I was never quite the same. I’m not sure I had processed what a “medley” was at 16 years old, but, then as now, “Smile/Send in the clowns” said all I needed to hear. Years later when I realized she had changed the Sondheim lyric…before Ms. Streisand…it was another “moment with Ross” for this fan trying to find his way into adulthood..
    There were literally hours I would spend listening to this recording all through college trying to imagine the show. Eventually I saw the TV and concert versions on DVD and another level of appreciation for this triumph set in.
    Since the original release was a double album, the LP package opened up to shots of the show…and of course….THAT COVER!! Over the years I’ve heard people tell me what it was like to be in the audience in NYC when the show was running in ’76. (I’m afraid they would have had to take me out in a stretcher. LOL )
    So I was transformed with this one from the compilations I had purchased, into appreciating her cohesive album output. (In the record bin, waiting for me was “Baby It’s Me”, “Diana Ross 1970”..and then …years later, just when I thought it couldn’t get any better…then came “Take me Higher”. )
    Of course this show, like many of her recording took me to other avenues. I began to appreciate the show tunes, the jazz and blues divas…and the other Motown artists whose music I had only vaguely known.
    Perhaps it was my own personal Master-Class all those years ago, in my parents “club-basement” listening to this show..t. I didn’t know it then…and perhaps I’m just realizing it now…but her music truly was my soundtrack. And the music from this show…the sound of her voice…was a companion for the years to follow.
    She said in her liner notes from WDFFIL…”Thanks for sharing the journey.” I couldn’t have said any better. “Right back at you Miss Ross. Thank YOU!”
    All the best, Mr. Paul,
    James

    • Paul says:

      James — I can’t even imagine being in the audience of this show. The energy and talent on display probably would have sent me straight to a stretcher, too! To me, this show and soundtrack is definitive proof of why Diana Ross is an entertainment legend — this is a one-woman show that has more energy than many Broadway performances featuring a cast of dozens. To be able to hold an audience’s attention in this way — and more than that, to flat-out dazzle them — is why Diana Ross was leader of the Supremes, a solo success, and now considered a legend.

  19. James Grattan says:

    Paul, did you ever get a chance to see the DVD of the TV version of this show, or the DVD of the original concert?
    JtG

    • Paul says:

      I’ve seen the TV specia on YouTube — but never seen a copy of the original concert. I would DIE to see that! Any idea where it’s available??

      • James Grattan says:

        Hey Paul,
        I have a copy of the concert in Japan that must have been shot before the tour hit the states. (Years ago, some guy was selling it on EBAY.) They were still working out the flow of the performance…but still fascinating to watch. I’d be happy to send you my copy as long as I can get it back:) (He says nervously scratching, at the idea of his DVD going on a trip…HA!)
        How can we make that happen?
        James

  20. Jaime says:

    Paul I have a new found love for Diana all over again thanks to all your reviews. Going back in time and rediscovering the back catalog has been a inspirational journey for me. Thank you for your hard work and devotion on these album reviews. I started here because I owned this on vinyl yet never had a chance to experience this until I read your review and decided to download it on iTunes. This has become my favorite Diana Ross concept album; I love her voice on here it’s powerful and full of energy unlike the “live at Caesars Palace 73”. I’m actually quite fond of live CDs one of my faves being Judy garland Carnegie Hall, but An evening with Diana Ross is much more than a musical memoir it truly is her at her best. I Love Here I am intro medley “the point” shows her wide versatility it might be silly but I enjoy it and of course the “tits and ass” number. Like you said Paul if someone wanted to experience Diana in all her glory and at her popularity peak this is it.

  21. Pingback: “An Evening With Diana Ross” On Broadway: June 14, 1976 | THE DIANA ROSS PROJECT

  22. david h says:

    ok ,after reading all these reviews I will go and have a listen to this album. as a fan of DR, I liked the tv special but really didn’t care much for her live 70s albums , #1 to many broadways style songs, #2 it seemed rushed. I haven’t heard this in years and when it came out on cd and now ITunes, I passed both times. I have always felt ONE of the reasons some of her songs in the 70s were not hits because she spent to much time singing DONT RAIN ON MY PARADE.AINT NOBODYS BUSINESS ..etc as a fan, I wanted to hear the hits! now I know I may be pressing some buttons…..don’t mean to. but this is not a fav lp of mine but all of you have made me want to go and have a listen and rediscover this album

  23. Pingback: Diana Ross Sings Songs From The Wiz (Released 2015) | THE DIANA ROSS PROJECT

  24. Pingback: The Supremes Sing Rodgers & Hart (1967) | THE DIANA ROSS PROJECT

  25. Pingback: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MISS ROSS! | THE DIANA ROSS PROJECT

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s