The Boss (1979)

“I’m here, and I won’t apologize…maybe at the end, there’ll be a surprise…”

To say Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson are essential fibers in the fabric of Diana Ross’s career would be a huge understatement; without the husband-and-wife writing and producing team, there’s no telling what Diana Ross’s solo career would have turned out to be.  Ashford and Simpson, back in 1970, had been handed the monumental task of orchestrating Ross’s first post-Supremes album, and they’d delivered a stellar album and two hit singles, one of them the stirring #1 hit “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”  A year later, they’d written and produced Surrender; while not a huge commercial success, the album was a masterpiece and stands as one of the very best Ross albums ever.  In 1976, Diana chose the pair’s “Ain’t Nothin’ But A Maybe” to produce on herself, and placed it on her hugely successful Diana Ross album.

It makes sense, then, that in 1979 Diana Ross would team up again with the duo for a new album.  Her sales had been spotty since last hitting #1 in 1976 with “Love Hangover.”  Though 1977’s Baby It’s Me is one of her best albums, and 1978’s Ross featured some solid songs, neither was a big hit.  1978 also turned out to be a tough year when Diana’s third film, The Wiz, became her first big failure, and the soundtrack didn’t achieve the kind of sales one would expect from a work featuring stars like Michael Jackson and the behind-the-scenes magic of Quincy Jones.  So a lot was probably at stake with Diana’s next album; she’d been a solo star for nearly a decade, and I’d be willing to bet there were those in the industry who were wondering if she was close to her expiration date.

The Boss, of course, turned out to be a solid success; it went gold and gave Diana some major hits on the dancefloor.  Its two singles (“The Boss” and “It’s My House”) are considered Diana Ross classics today, and the singer still regularly performs both in concert.  It modernized Diana Ross without straying too far from the ingredients that had made her a star in the first place; a younger crowd could appreciate the driving beats and catchy lyrics, while established fans could enjoy the attention paid to the vocals and overall production.

Those vocals, it should be noted, were some of the best yet on a Diana Ross studio album; her voice hadn’t sounded so consistently powerful and alive since Surrender.  Such inspired vocal performances were likely the result of a couple of things – first of all, it’s clear that Ashford and Simpson as producers always pushed Ross in the studio.  But more importantly, the singer was coming off of The Wiz, on which she’d delivered her most raw and emotional performances ever.  Though the film and soundtrack hadn’t performed up to expectations, there’s no doubt that the project was a creative breakthrough for Diana, who has repeatedly said that she was deeply connected to the story.   She’d also pushed her voice nightly during her recent challenging live extravaganzas, an experience that must have amounted to a singer’s boot camp, whipping her vocal chords into shape.

Ashford and Simpson also must have been at a creative high point during this time; they were now established recording stars in their own right, and had continued to cut classics on others, like Chaka Kahn’s “I’m Every Woman.”  Smartly, they also apparently tapped into that creativity brewing in Diana; according to J. Randy Taraborrelli’s Diana Ross: A Biography, “[Diana] would meet with Nick and Valerie to discuss the songs and what she wanted to the lyrics to convey” (325).  Thus, unlike some of her recent, more uneven albums (with the exception of Baby It’s Me, on which Diana also had strong input with producer Richard Perry), The Boss truly feels like a “Diana Ross album” from start to finish.  Though the songs are undoubtedly of the disco era  and sound somewhat dated today, they’re still much more listenable and far more complex than most of the repetitive dance hits of the late 70s, thanks to the intelligence of Ashford and Simpson as songwriters and the exuberance of Diana’s performances.

***

1.  No One Gets The Prize:  The Boss opens with one of its strongest and most infectious tracks, a slamming dance track that features absolutely stunning vocal work from Diana and some of the best writing on the album.  The song is, in a way, an updated take on “Keep An Eye” (one of the standouts on Diana’s debut album, Diana Ross), with a similar story about two friends torn apart by competition for a man.  The track opens with an almost primal call from Diana, who wordlessly belts out a 7-note intro before the bouncing beats kicks in.  The instrumental here, while on the surface typical of 70s disco, is upon further listens much more challenging, with Valerie’s pounding piano and funky, New Orleans-ish horn work setting it apart from more generic dance hits of the era.  Again, the vocal work here is stellar; Diana’s crystal-clear annunciation is necessary to make the rapid-fire lyrics of the second verse work, and she powerfully belts through much of the song, easily matching the impressive range she showed on songs like “Be A Lion” from The Wiz.  During the last minute of running time, Diana is singing at the top of her range; her “I was denied a love that satisfied” at 4:00, for example, is real soul belting, and sounds almost Chaka Kahn-esque.  To hear Diana sounding so committed to a challenging song is a thrill; it’s clear right from the start that she’s feeling the material – likely because she was creatively involved in it.  “No One Gets The Prize” – while apparently a hit in clubs – was never released as a single, and thus never charted.  It’s a mystery why; this song is one of Diana’s best in years, and a perfect way to open the album.

2.  I Ain’t Been Licked:  The high energy continues with this funky, upbeat song featuring the kind of uplifting message that Diana Ross obviously loves; I’d guess this is one of the songs written with Diana’s creative ideas in mind.  The lyrics are instantly relatable to anyone who’s ever been kicked down, and from the memorable opening line (“Roll down the gangway so they’ll see that it’s me…”) until her inspired belting at the end, Diana again sounds completely invested in the song.  As with “No One Gets The Prize,” the vocals here are strong and clear; Diana’s voice sounds full and vibrant, and she never once seems to strain to hit the high notes required of her on the choruses.  The backgrounds by Ashford and Simpson soar behind Miss Ross, providing a musical springboard for her, and the classic instrumental track really pops thanks to some great guitar, bass, and horn work.  Had this been released as a single, I imagine it could have gained strong airplay, at least on R&B stations; it’s every bit as anthemic as the similar “I’m Every Woman.”

3.  All For One:  A lovely ballad in the vein of “Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand),” which had been Ross’s first solo hit and was also written by Ashford and Simpson.  Of the ballads on The Boss, this is the strongest, thanks to a nice performance by Diana and an interesting song structure.  Diana initially offers up a relaxed performance, but her voice becomes more and more powerful, especially at around 1:50, during the bridge, as she cries out the words “…won’t you try?”  Though it’s not as memorable as “Reach Out…” or some of the ballads on Surrender, it’s a strong addition to this album and provides a nice break from the energetic tunes that surround it.  Diana also apparently liked it; she used it in her shows promoting the album, and even performed it as the encore to the second night of her famous Central Park concerts in 1983.

4.  The Boss:  This is perhaps the most joyous, celebratory track Diana Ross has ever recorded (well, it’s at least tied with “I’m Coming Out”) — if ever a song could be called “feel good,” this is it.  The LP’s title track and first single (it cracked the Top 20 and hit #1 on the dance charts) is an irresistible dance song that features an instantly-catchy hook, brilliant instrumentals, and one of Ross’s best vocal performances ever captured in the studio.  This is a perfect example of what Ashford and Simpson were capable of drawing out of Diana Ross; her energetic vocals inch higher and higher as the track plays out, culminating in her famous vocal run at around 2:10 which even she seems to know people went crazy over: “I was listening to ‘The Boss,’ and it still sounds really good.  I remember when I used to do the high part at the end of that song, and everybody thought that wasn’t me, that [it] was probably somebody else” (David Nathan’s The Soulful Divas, 157).  Being that this song is still recognized as a “Diana Ross classic” and is featured on many soul and dance compilations, it’s hard to imagine why people still label her as a singer that didn’t have much range — one listen to this song immediately disproves that.  The production here is superb, and a fine example of how 70s dance music didn’t have to be boring, repetitive, or campy; the song, in fact, has far outlived it’s life as a 70s dance classic, having been resurrected by other artists over the years and topping the dance chart TWO other times.  Miss Ross herself still performs the song in concert, often as the first or second song in her set — her enjoyment of the song after all these years is still evident.

5.  Once In The Morning:  The most purely “disco” song on the album, this is not really a vocal or production showcase; the point here, clearly, is to get people out dancing.  Diana turns in a sexy, subdued vocal that sounds very different from her turns on “The Boss” and “No One Gets The Prize” – her breathy performance is much more akin to Donna Summer’s “Love To Love You Baby” or Andrea True’s “More, More, More” than her more powerful work on other cuts here.  She does get to do a little more emoting during the last 30 seconds, which is nice to hear, but again, this song is one of the few (if not the only) on the album that really seems to emphasize the beat over the lyrics and vocals.

6.  It’s My House:  This is probably the most unusual song on the LP, and was chosen as the second single.  Though it only found moderate success on the R&B charts, it’s still remembered today, and often referenced in pop culture – proof that it made an impact on radio, even if the overall chart position was underwhelming.  This isn’t a traditional dance song, and it’s not a ballad; it falls somewhere in between, a groovy kind of easy listening tune with an Island flavor and a finger-snapping beat.  The song doesn’t require as much vocal energy by Diana, but she turns in a pleasant, relaxed vocal that perfectly fits the laid-back and confident theme.  The lyrics here speak of an empowered woman inviting a man inside her house on her own terms (“…say you wanna move in with me…gotta follow the rules to get me…”), and Ross – who was a single mother at the time, and newly living in New York – was likely really feeling the idea; it sure sounds like she was, anyway.

7.  Sparkle:  Strangely, the longest song on the LP isn’t one of the dance tracks; it’s this tune, a light, classy pop/soul ballad that runs just over five minutes.  The production work here is reminiscent of Richard Perry’s work on Diana’s Baby It’s Me; Valerie Simpson plays an almost jazz-influenced piano line and there’s a prominent sax featured, too.  While this is a pleasant piece of easy-listening, it doesn’t pack nearly the punch of “It’s My House” or even “All For One” – it’s ultimately just not as memorable as the songs that have come before it.  Diana offers up a performance not unlike that on some of her work with Michael Masser; there’s a softness and roundness to her voice here that’s very pleasing.  This is by no means a bad song, but it’s a bit meandering and again, doesn’t quite match the excitement of the tracks that surround it.

8.  I’m In The World:  This song sounds like it could have come straight off of the soundtrack to The Wiz; the self-empowerment lyric is exactly the kind Diana Ross sang in character as Dorothy, and serves as almost a sequel to “Is This What Feeling Gets (Dorothy’s Theme)” – which, it just so happens, was also penned by Ashford and Simpson.  There’s a cinematic quality to the entire production; the soaring strings could easily complement a film’s dramatic high point, and the long, slow fade-out at the end seems tailor-made for a movie’s end credit sequence.  Diana’s inspiring performance foreshadows her work on the next year’s “It’s My Turn” (which, coincidentally, actually is a feature film theme song); again, I’d be willing to bet this one was written with Diana’s input, as she sounds completely invested in the words she’s singing.  Though it’s not as full of hooks as “I Ain’t Been Licked” or as exuberant as “The Boss,” this is actually a perfect way to end the album – the lyrics are about finding one’s place in the world, and Diana Ross (by her own admission) was doing just that as she recorded the entire album.

***

The Boss is one of the most cohesive albums of Diana Ross’s career – and thus, one of the most consistently enjoyable.  To me, the quality of the songs is just slightly more variable than on Surrender and Baby It’s Me, and thus isn’t quite as solid as those two offerings.  Still, Ashford and Simpson prove once again that not only are they master writers and producers, but that they also know how to bring the very best out of Miss Ross.  Allowing her creative input in the album clearly motivated Diana to push herself in the studio, and the vocals here reveal an artist with a depth and range that many people still don’t appreciate.  Though The Boss went gold and was a hit for Diana, it wasn’t nearly the success that it should have been — it’s impossible to understand why she didn’t at least get a Grammy nod for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, considering her work on the entire album is stronger than on songs like “Your Love Is So Good For Me” and even “Love Hangover,” which had previously gained her nominations in that category.  Of course, she wouldn’t have to wait long for a chart-busting, platinum LP…that would come the next year…

Final Analysis:  4.5/5  (Diana “Sparkles”)

Choice Cuts:  “No One Gets The Prize,” “The Boss,” “It’s My House”

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About Paul

Album-by-album, track-by-track, a look at the entire Diana Ross discography...
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39 Responses to The Boss (1979)

  1. Tony says:

    By far one of my favorite albums. Her voice is perfect on every song. I really do enjoy her voice on Sparkle and I’m in the World. Both songs seem to hint at her soulfulness and even a touch of the blues comes through. I could not seem to learn to enjoy I ain’t Been Licked, but agree No One Gets…and Once in the Morn…could have been very big hits. Both those songs seem to really be on the pulse of what we wanted from Diana!

    Again thank you for my Sunday Morning read and reuniting me with the classic Diana!

    • Paul says:

      “No One Gets The Prize” is definitely a lost hit — it’s too bad because the song and performance deserve to be much more well-known — this song would sound great on Diana “Greatest Hits” collections…if only!

  2. wayne2710 says:

    One of her finest – and one with very treasured memories for me. I still remember the saturday morning I walked into a record store in Liverpool and saw this for the first time. I was about to graduate from uni and had planned spending that evening celebrating with friends. All that went out of the window when I saw this, a US import at a silly price, which meant I could either buy it and not go out that night – or eat either come to think of it – no contest ! I Ain’t Been Licked has been up there with the best of her songs ever since for me, although I had to wait 26 long years to hear her sing it live in concert, appropriately enough back in Liverpool. Perfect !

    • Paul says:

      Wayne — ha ha ha — love that you chose the LP over eating…I would have done the same thing!!! Especially for an album this good. I bet hearing Diana sing “I Ain’t Been Licked” live was amazing!

  3. spookyelectric says:

    Once again thanks – really look forward to reading your weekly posts. This is one of her very best, I agree.

    Ashford & Simpson, as you say, always knew exactly how to get the best out of Diana as a performer. Nic and Val would often base their songs for her on what was happening in her life at that moment – and as you allude to above – at this time was experiencing a new freedom both creatively and in her personal life living in New York. You can feel how comfortable she is here – she inhabits these songs in a way I would say she rarely would again.

    The title track is still overwhelming – all these years later it still sounds so fresh and vibrant. On the 12inch version there are even more feisty little ad libs and yelps from Diana which are just a joy. I think ‘Once In The Morning’ is a lot better than you give it credit for – listen to those strings! And Diana is really ripping into that chorus.

    So sad this was the last time Diana, Nic and Val would work together.

    • Paul says:

      Hmmm…maybe you’ll make me have to listen to “Once In The Morning” a few more times 🙂

      I think your word choice for “The Boss” — overwhelming — is perfect. The pure joy and energy captured on the record is astonishing!

  4. Antje says:

    Again Paul, a very well thought-out review. As you recently focused on Diana’s vocal qualities, I may introduce another piece of ignorance and/or bias into our discussion:
    Three years ago the Rolling Stone published a list of “The 100 greatest singers of all time”, and “of course” no Diana Ross listed. Hopefully your blog gets some people to LISTEN to her singing, but I doubt it – too much prejudice connected with her name.

    By the way: Among those Top 100 were only 25 women, 9 of them black – makes 9% black women altogether. DR really deserves her right place in this kind of pop history, especially when considering some names on the list.

    • Paul says:

      Antje — I remember when that list came out, and I was really angered by it. Not including Diana was a shame…and really made the entire list something of a joke. Her voice has hit #1 on the pop charts here in the US a total of 18 times…and she’s not among the top 100 voices?

  5. johninpa says:

    I remember seeing Diana at the Valley Forge Music Fair in Devon, PA twice while this was her current album. After the obligatory instrumental intro, and a measure of drum beats, the band broke into “I Ain’t Been Licked”, making that show one of the best openings of the 30+ times I saw her. I still have a cassette tape of the show somewhere since I used to smuggle my little recorder into shows! It was amazing.

    By the way Paul, I love reading all your reviews. Brings back such good memories!

    Thank you!

    • Paul says:

      Hey John — glad you’re enjoying. You need to find that casette and share!!!! 🙂 I bet it was thrilling to see Diana promoting this album — she seems to have been in such a good, creative place…

  6. spookyelectric says:

    I wasn’t familiar with the Rolling Stone list discussed above so I just checked it out – typically it’s a very ‘white rock’ orientated run down with a few obvious black vocalists thrown in for nominal measure.

    I reckon there’s several reasons why Diana rarely makes these lists – she’s probably seen as too ‘pop’ to represent ‘black music’; her achievements as an ‘all-round entertainer’ (as opposed to purely music-based) and the lingering image of her as a ‘diva’ as opposed to a singer (the Florence Ballard story being constantly rehashed and distorted to cast her in a certain light) sadly seem to have far greater cultural resonance still than any of her triumphs in the recording studio.

    There’s a interesting book by Ed Ifkovic called ‘Diana’s Dogs’ that really puts the detail around perceptions of Diana’s image throughout the years into focus which I’m sure your readers would enjoy. In an odd way it could be seen as a testament of Diana and Berry Gordy’s success at creating the first true global black superstar that this fascination into projecting all kinds of gossip and rumour onto her would circulate over the decades.

    I’m hard pushed to think of another singer that was as consistently successful for so long that’s afforded so little recognition really. If commentators are looking to namecheck an iconic black female vocalist it will invariably be Aretha. Maybe Tina, Patti or Whitney.

    The fact Diana wasn’t known for a churchy, straight ahead R&B sound often sees her dismissed when (as you’ve regularly pointed out in this blog) her talent for really communicating a song – her emotional investment, tone, diction, phrasing – are second to none. Something that’s unlikely to change anytime soon I think – the ‘American Idol’ generation (raised on the likes of Mariah and Christina) have been taught to value showy vocal pyrotechnics over any kind of subtlety every time.

  7. “Diana had some things she wanted to say in a particular way. Listen to
    “It’s My House”. The song it’s about a modern woman who tells her lover
    ,I’m independent and may fit you into my space…but on my terms”
    Valerie Simpson (NY Sunday News, Jan 13, 1980)

    That line ” and may fit into my space” was very much used by those who
    took the EST training back in the late 70’s. My uncle introduced me to this
    intensive two weekend crazy training back in 1979, of course he sold it to me by letting me know that my idol had the “experience”! Diana took from EST, like everyone
    who took the training, that you were responsible for your choices. In my opinion
    this inspired Diana to take charge of her career, “The Boss” it’s part of this
    “choice”. I think it’s the most personal and passionate album from Ross, you can tell
    her burning desire to really express her ideas and independence.

    By September 6, 1979 the top disco songs on the Billboard chart were “The Boss” and “Found a Cure”. That November on the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade Diana wore a green short cropped fur coat ( a costume from “The Wiz”) and standing on top of an apple shaped float she sang “The Boss”.

    Thank you Paul for igniting so many great memories from my early days in New York. I really look forward your great reviews on Diana’s music, they make my week!

    • Paul says:

      Hey Carlos — thanks for the quote from Valerie Simpson — would love to read more and hear more of her memories about writing and recording “The Boss” album. I’d also LOVE to see Diana’s performance in the Macy’s Parade — were you at the parade or did you watch it on TV?

      • Hello Paul-The article on the NY Sunday News hinted at Diana’s new direction in her career and life and the quote of Valerie Simpson was the only insight into what went into the the idea of “The Boss”. The article was titled “The Evolution of Diana Ross” and it was in the Sunday magazine section which Diana graced the cover.

        “Less than two years ago, I began to take responsibility for me. Before that , it was like, come over here; now go over there;that’s a good girl. They said do this and I did it. I was a puppet and they were pulling the strings…it’s different now. I’m older. I have children, I have responsibilities” Reading the interview you feel a tough side of Diana, something was definitively changing in her during that period.

        Back in 1979 I moved to New York from Puerto Rico to attend Parsons School of Design. I was living with family relatives on Farragut, Brooklyn since I missed my dorm deadline. I was with them for a year. That Thanksgiving I received a call from my friends from school to let me know that I should meet them in the city since Diana was going to be performing at the parade. The parade already begun. I told my aunt I was going to the parade to see Diana, I promised her I was going to be back before her Thanksgiving dinner. Knowing how obsessed I was with Diana she let me go. I took the bus to the train then I had to wait a lifetime for the L train, it was a long ride from where I lived. When I finally made it and met my friends they told me Diana already sang! She lip synched “The Boss”. That same day right at the parade she was given the Front Music Page Award for Rhythm & Blues by the Daily News. The disco award was given to Donna Summer.

        I missed her during the parade but I saw her earlier that fall in concert for the first time at Radio City Music Hall. I paid 12 dlls to see her and I sat all the way up on the last row, Paul it was pure magic. Everybody was transfixed by her. Her charisma and amazing voice filled the whole space. Just unbelievable.

      • Paul says:

        I love hearing your stories! How awesome! And 12 dollars?!?!?! Wow!

  8. Antje says:

    Thank you Paul for opening my ears! I was never very fond of this album for it’s lush orchestration. But you made me listen to the overall product, and now I really enjoy it.
    It is reported that Diana remarked on “I ain’t been licked” she should have made this song her anthem (instead of “I will survive”) – oh yes!

    • Paul says:

      Hey Antje!
      “The Boss” is definitely not an album I can listen to all the time — and the orchestration is part of the issue — but as an overall album and a vocal showcase I think it’s really one of the standouts in Diana’s discography. Interesting that Diana says she should have put more attention on “I Ain’t Been Licked” — I’d LOVE to hear her sing it in concert these days — I bet she could really put a whole new meaning into the song given some of her struggles over the past 15 years…

  9. chris meklis says:

    She did recently put it in her concerts in Europe and SA…in 2004/5 and the verve with which she sang it truly showed that indeed she hand’t been licked!

  10. spookyelectric says:

    Wish this album would get a proper Deluxe reissue – it’s only ever had the 12″ versions of ‘It’s My House’ and the title track added. Would be great to see the extended versions of ‘No One Get The Prize’ and ‘I Ain’t Been Licked’ on one set, as well as the great ‘Prize/Boss’ medley. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some alternate vocal takes or maybe Valerie’s demos knocking around somewhere too. That would definitely be worth a root through the vaults!

    • Paul says:

      I would love to see The Boss get a loving, deluxe edition like diana did — as you said, there are additional remixes, plus surely some alternate takes and demos. Wouldn’t it be great to hear Diana “feeling” her way through “The Boss” on other takes?

  11. Augustus says:

    Not much to add here other than the fact that I love “Once in the Morning”. The swirling strings, thumping bass – and I love that you can still hear the piano in the background. From the pre (or is it post?) coital purring that morphs into something much more carnal, Diana sounds great on this cut. Indeed, she does on the whole disc. A & S brought serious musicality to The Boss which help make it a seminal LP from the “disco” era – and one of Ross’ best. Love it Paul. You Rock.

  12. Mike says:

    The organisation of the tracks on this album ranks with the best–Abbey Road, Dionne’s Heartbreaker album. Perfect progression.

  13. Luke says:

    For me, the real highlights of this album were “Sparkle” and “No one gets the prize”. The first was a love song in which the fine music is perfectly combined with the smooth voice of Diana, and in “No one gets the prize” we hear a nice, catchy dancing sound sung by a really strong vocalist. The rest of the album sound dated today, like most of the late 70s disco songs. About the “Boss”…I tend to dislke tracks which are being used too much in live performances just because they were big hits. I feel like we;ve had enough of “The boss” or “Ain;t no mountain”. I usually skip it whan i hear the album.

  14. pnyc1969 says:

    From my experience, she has only recently put “The Boss” back into her shows in the US. I’ve seen at least one performance of every concert tour that has hit the New York area since “Workin’ Overtime” except the “I Love You” tour in 2007 (I was on vacation) and I never heard it live till the “More than Yesterday” shows I saw in 2010 and 2011 (and the TV Land performance in 2006). I do remember an Entertainment Tonight clip during the “I Love You” tour that very briefly showed her singing “I Ain’t Been Licked”. There is also a YouTube clip of her singing “The Boss” in Amsterdam in 1994. I would like to appeal to longtime fans to fill in the blanks on this one. When and where has she sung songs from “The Boss” after Central Park, when she sang “All for One” and before TV Land, other than the 1994 concert? I’d be interested to know.

  15. Eric says:

    No one gets the prize is probaly the best disco song ever.
    Once in the morning is musical divinity!

    I hate the ballads on here except “sparkle” which shines. To be honest I dislike all her “heal the world ” type songs. I’m a bad person!

    The title track is wonderful . Pop singer Kylie minogue semi-samples it on her 2000 song “so now goodbye” check out the track to compare

    It’s a very cohesive album and def more interesting than “Diana” or more satisfying than “baby it’s me”–it ranks with take me higher as one of her best albums. Def her best of the 70s!

  16. Eric says:

    Btw I must add, that rolling stone list was a total joke! Pretentious and predictable . This is the same magazine that labeled Justin timberland the king of pop! I stopped reading after that! To b honest, workin overtime” is a stronger album than some of the duds that made it! To be fair though, id list these albums on the best of all time by ross

    -Diana ross (76)
    Take me higher
    The boss
    diana
    Ross (83)
    Diana Ross (70)
    Touch me in the morning
    Everyday is a new day
    Surrender

  17. Carlton L Saunders says:

    OMG!!! I just listened to The Boss album @ the gym today and all I can say is Diana Ross SANG on that album! Always like the album but never really I mean really listened to each song like I did today. Kudos to Ashford & Simpson. Quite the shame that Diana Ross never revisited that pairing. I remember hearing a few years ago the rumor that A&S wanted to work with Diana again. The longer version of “I Ain’t Been Licked” is stunning and Diana is letting us HAVE IT with both barrels especially during the ending vamp/fade out!!! Wonder if “Licked” would’ve worked as a single? My song is “Once In The Morning”. I remember hearing it on the radio a lot and it sounded sooooooooo good too. Ohhhhhhhhhh I miss the good ole radio days when they played album cuts too to help sell the album smh. The Boss album is a very well cohesive project and I can’t believe there wasn’t any #1 songs lifted from it. Haven’t heard Diana Ross sing that strong since the Surrender album! My bad, make that The Wiz Soundtrack!!! Genius

  18. spookyelectric says:

    Interesting ‘Boss’ sidenote: Dionne Warwick recorded some sides with Ashford & Simpson at Warners in the early 70s that were shelved. One of them was called “Someone Else Gets The Prize”. I wonder. Never heard them, but Warners are finally releasing them later this year on a compilation of unreleased Dionne recordings called “We Need To Go Back”…

    • Paul says:

      I’ve read before — I think it was in David Nathan’s book — that Dionne originally recorded “No One Gets The Prize.” I can’t wait to hear this, if indeed it’s an early version of Diana’s song. I can’t “hear” anyone else but Miss Ross doing it, so this will be interesting.

      • spookyelectric says:

        Agree – I’m totally intrigued. Think the Dionne/Nic&Val sessions were 72/73 so if it is the same toon it certainly would have the same discofied arrangement as The Boss version for sure.

      • So I finally got hold of the Dionne’s ‘Unissued Warner Bros Sessions’ release – and guess what? Her “Someone Else Gets The Prize” is a completely different tune, melodically and lyrically, than “No One Gets The Prize”. It was recorded in 1973 so not surprisingly it has the same warmly soulful feel as Diana’s ‘Surrender’ album with lovely gospel flourishes backing up Dionne’s strident lead.

        There’s one other Nic & Val collab on the cd – “We Need To Go Back”- which is even better. Funny thing is that previously shelved tune turns out to be an early version of a song they recorded on Candi Staton (then covered by Angela Bofill) in the late 70s. Very nice too.

        One more thing – fans of “The Boss” might be interested in the lovely mini-Lp new reissue of the album, along with a load of other Diana titles – worth checking out!

        http://www.culturefactoryusa.com/component/virtuemart/view/productdetails/virtuemart_product_id/85/virtuemart_category_id/1

      • Paul says:

        Interesting — so “No One…” really wasn’t a reworking of “Someone Else…” at all — other than the use of the phrase “…get the prize!” I’ll have to get my hands on this Dionne recording. It’s only in recent years that I’ve really started appreciated her discographer more and enjoying the various phases of her career.

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  23. david wilson says:

    This album and the various singles bombed in the UK. Diana was out of favour and Donna was hot. The various singles failed to be included on BBC radio 1’s playlist which sealed their fate. Diana’s career was in decline in the UK. Her last top 10 hit was Love Hangover back in 76 and she was very much in Donna’s shadow at that point. Even Donna’s UK chart success was patchy by comparison to her Billboard placings in 79. The album kinda passed me by and I eventually bought it 6 months later- picked it up in the bargain bin for 99p! I fell in love with it and felt so guilty at deserting my idol! The Boss, Prize, Licked were my top tunes. They still sound good today. The project is cohesive- tightly produced by Nick & Val. It works in much the same way as Baby It’s Me- One production team/producer. It is a complete piece with consistently good songs and production values. I wish The Boss had received more airplay in the UK- It deserved greater success- it scrapped into to the top 40 at.. 40 for one week. A big problem was that Diana rarely visited the UK for promotion and Motown was slow to capitalise on promo videos- Abba were the masters of video promotion- always with a video ready to support their latest release in all markets. I keep hoping someone will use Licked or Prize in an ad raising it’s profile.

  24. Robert Gallagher says:

    Paul, I think you underrated “Once in the Morning.” True, relatively subdued vocal compared to “The Boss,” for example, but that’s exactly why it works so well. Had she belted it, it wouldn’t have lined up with the lyrics, like why the beginning of “Love Hangover” works so brilliantly. Needs that trademark Diana breathiness. And about 1:15, the sexiest “baby, baby” of her career (and there are a lot to choose from).

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