Why Do Fools Fall In Love (1981)

 “It’s Never Too Late to hold the power in your hands…”

In late 1981, Diana Ross began the third act of her career.  Act I, of course, had been her rise to stardom as lead singer of the Supremes, the Motown supergroup that scored 12 #1 hits.  Act II came with the 1970s and solo success, during which time she notched six more #1’s and made three feature films.  But in 1981, in a quest for creative control of her career (and a way bigger paycheck), Diana Ross left Motown and signed with RCA Records.  She apparently talked with a couple of producers about working with her on this important first album, but ended up in the hot seat herself, not only producing the album but also co-writing one song, the first case of Miss Ross being credited in helping to write her own music.

Sales-wise, Why Do Fools Fall In Love was a huge hit; it went platinum, and continued Diana’s string of hit singles with two Billboard top 10 singles, the title track and “Mirror Mirror.”  A third single, “Work That Body” (the one featuring a writing credit from Miss Ross) nearly made the top 40.  This is, then, one of the few solo Diana Ross albums to feature two top 10 hits; diana did it the year before (“Upside Down” and “I’m Coming Out”) and so did 1976’s Diana Ross (“Theme From Mahogany” and “Love Hangover”).  This success must have given Miss Ross great confidence; surely there was a lot of uncertainty about leaving Motown — the only record company she’d ever been part of — and striking out on her own.

Creatively, the album is largely successful, too.  Though her RCA years would be marked by some very uneven albums to come, this one is a cohesive set; whether you love or hate the songs, they do have a very distinct sound and form a seamless collection.  The high points here are the big hits; “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” and especially “Mirror Mirror” are vibrant, exciting recordings that sound still sound like hits today.  Though some of the album tracks are pretty vanilla — “It’s Never Too Late” and “Two Can Make It” cry out for the harder edge of Diana’s work with Chic — they’re certainly not bad songs, and are pretty representative of pop/R&B music in the early 80s.  Why Do Fools Fall In Love doesn’t necessarily break any new ground for Diana Ross, but as her first full-length producing effort, it’s not the mess it could have been, given that her imagination was finally allowed to run wild.  Clearly Diana Ross was looking to continue the success she’d found in The Boss and diana as a high-energy dance queen, and in that respect, this album works.

***

1.  Why Do Fools Fall In Love:  From the opening, machine-gun-like drum roll, the bar is set high with the album’s title track, a remake of the 1956 Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers hit.  Diana has often remarked that she’d been influenced by Lymon when she was a child in Detroit, so her choice to cover it isn’t really a surprising one, although it probably seemed strange at the time that she was pulling from the past while trying so hard to establish her “new” identity apart from Motown.  Still, the song was a top 10 pop and R&B hit, and remains a staple in Diana Ross concerts; her version here would also stand as one of the strongest singles she’d ever release while signed to RCA.  The song is given a brassy, swinging treatment here, with the driving percussion line, blaring horns, and a great guitar solo reminiscent of some of the work on diana.  Diana’s vocal is superbly done; her crystal-clear delivery is perfect for the sing-song quality of the melody, and the choice to layer her voice and feature her as her own background singer adds an exciting complexity.  This isn’t the most challenging or interesting song ever recorded by Diana Ross, but it’s got a joy and vibrancy that makes it a stand-out for the singer; she truly sounds happy and invigorated here, likely a reflection of her feelings about producing and being so creatively involved in the project.

2.  Sweet Surrender:  When appearing on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” in 1981, Diana specifically mentioned this song, noting that it “…is a song that was sent to me a writer, young writer, and I kept it for years, and finally when I did decide to do it, I couldn’t find the writers, and we almost didn’t use it because we couldn’t find them, but we did find them in the last minute.”  Clearly Diana liked the song a lot, since she was probably hearing hundred and hundreds of songs a year as recording possibilities and chose to keep this one.  It’s an interesting piece, with a bass-heavy, slowed-down track and almost hypnotic strings.  The track is, in a way, similar to Issac Hayes’s classic reading of “Walk On By” — both songs are sexy, slightly dark, and feature hushed, husky vocals.  What’s interesting to note here is the blurred, strangely echoed quality of Diana’s recorded vocal; while it works well in the context of this song, it’s a treatment that would feature heavily on this album and the next (Silk Electric) — often to very lackluster results.  As she was producing these albums herself, clearly there’s a deliberate reason Diana was choosing to make her voice sound that way, but it often robbed the songs of the distinctive personality that made Diana such a recognizable voice to begin with.  In any case, again, in a provocative setting like this, the almost-dulled sound of Miss Ross’s voice works well, and this is a memorable addition to the album.  And back to the “Walk On By” connection, it’s surprising “Sweet Surrender” hasn’t been sampled by contemporary R&B artists like the Hayes song has — the distinctive instrumental here seems destined to be used again someday!

3.  Mirror Mirror:  The album’s second single was another major pop and R&B hit, and aside from “Missing You” later in the decade, I’d say it’s the best song Diana Ross would release during her tenure with RCA.  This is slamming piece of pure funk, nearly as good as the best work on diana, and features a searing instrumental and vocal performance that probably should’ve gotten Diana another Grammy nomination (although she was well-represented at the awards for her work in 1981 due to “Endless Love” with Lionel Richie).  As on the album’s title track, there’s a strong horn and guitar component here, but this time the instrumental is far more complex and haunting, and seamlessly combines a harder rock sound with the pop/R&B/dance vibe of the surrounding songs.  Diana’s vocal, meanwhile, is also a more challenging continuation of her work on “Why Do Fools…” — she again layers her voice, providing her own background vocals, but this time puts far more emotion into them, portraying the agony of a woman “trapped in this mirror forever.”  There’s also a nice display of strength and power in Diana’s voice during the final minute of the song, as she belts “Tell me Mirror Mirror, on the wall…thought you said you had the answer to it all…”  The lyrics here are fascinating, featuring the classic opening line “You have turned my life into a paperback novel,” which seems completely appropriate for a woman’s of Diana’s star power to be singing, and the incredibly visual and startling, “You have nailed my heart upon the wall for your pleasure.”  Not only is “Mirror Mirror” a top-notch track from her 1980s output, it’s also one of the best singles of her entire career.

4.  Endless Love:  The “Endless Love” included on this album is not that same “Endless Love” that became Diana’s biggest hit single ever; that one was a duet with Lionel Richie, who wrote the song as the theme to the movie of the same name.  When released in 1981 (before this album was released), it shot to #1 and stayed there for an astounding 9 weeks, becoming one of the longest-running #1 hits in Billboard history.  It also garnered Diana and Lionel several Grammy nominations (of which, incredibly, they won NONE) and the song was nominated for an Oscar.  Miss Ross re-recorded the song solo for this album, probably a very wise move in that record-buyers seeing the name “Endless Love” on the sleeve might assume it was the duet that was included.  The problem, of course, is that it’s impossible not to compare the two versions, since they came so closely together.  The duet version was simple and clean, driven by a piano and acoustic guitar; Diana and Lionel both turned in crisp but powerful performances, their voices blending seamlessly.  In the solo version on this album, everything is cranked up a notch; the instrumental track is embellished by a prominent flute and is far more glossy in nature, and Diana’s vocal is much showier and more emotive.  While there are those who prefer this more dramatic reading of the song, I think this is a case of “less is more” — the simplicity of the original duet was a perfect counterpoint to the saccharine lyrics, whereas here it’s all just a little too much.  There’s no denying that Diana’s voice sounds very powerful in this solo version; she’s extremely committed to this performance, and her voice soars.  However, the over-production nearly kills the song; the instrumental is so clouded and muddled and overdone that it sounds more like elevator music than an appropriate track for Diana Ross.  And as much as Diana’s voice displays impressive range here, she does tend to over-annunciate, turning the word “sure” into “shee-ooooore” and so forth, which can be a little grating.  Though the original duet is an undeniable highlight of Ross’s career, the version on this LP is just okay.

5.  It’s Never Too Late:  One of the catchiest songs on the LP, “It’s Never Too Late” — as a composition — sounds like it could have been an outtake from The Boss; it’s a much more typical pop/dance tune than the funkier “Mirror Mirror” and title track.  Though it was never released as a single, Diana did perform it on “Soul Train” to promote the album, and it certainly sounds like it could have gotten some radio play, too.  That said, the simplicity of the song’s production, especially coming after the strangely compelling “Sweet Surrender” and the spectacular “Mirror Mirror,” is a little disappointing.  Though Diana sounds nice here, she doesn’t push herself vocally; this is an extremely laid back, almost icy performance from her.  The instrumental lacks fire as well — there’s no distinct edge to the music here (in the way that the drums give an edge to “Why Do Fools…” and the guitar does so on “Mirror Mirror”), and it sounds just a little too glossy to be truly exciting.  Again, this is a well-written, catchy song, and it’s not a bad inclusion…it’s just not a standout.

6.  Think I’m In Love:  An unusual mid-tempo number that features another strangely hypnotic chorus, this one also layers Diana’s vocals to good effect.  The song itself isn’t very memorable; the instrumental track is a kind of hybrid of “Sweet Surrender” and “It’s Never Too Late,” though it’s not as strong as either of those two.  The most notable thing about the song is, again, the layering of Diana’s voice on the chorus, as she repeats “…think I’m in love…” in a dreamy, almost staccato manner reminiscent of the Chic background vocals on her diana album.  Her vocal performance on the verses isn’t particularly inspired (she reaches a high note a few times on the word “love” — though it doesn’t sound as effortless as one might hope, like on “The Boss” and other earlier work); it’s not bad, it’s just not that impressive.  Overall, I’d say this is the most “Easy Listening” tune on the album…which, if that’s what she was going for, is fine.

7.  Sweet Nothings:  Diana reaches back a few decades again, covering the popular Brenda Lee song from the late 50s, and finally brings back a little fire to the album in the process.  This is a nice, swinging pseudo-Rockabilly number in the vein of Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock And Roll,” with Diana turning in a playful performance that’s at once youthful, energetic and wise.  Aside from the two hit singles, this is really the most energy Miss Ross displays on the album, and the instrumental may be the best, with a superb sax solo and a pulsing bass that helps elevate the song out of the “campy remake” territory that it easily could’ve fallen into.  The only real flaw here is the vocal production; again, Diana turns in a fun and coy performance, but this song is another case of her voice sounding muddy.  There are moments in which Diana almost seems to be singing into a tin can; the clarity of her voice on something like “I’m Coming Out” or “Give Up” from diana is noticeably missing.  This is a shame, because had her voice been cleanly brought to the forefront — like the saxophone is — this would have been an even stronger entry than it already is.

8.  Two Can Make It:  Another mid-tempo pop tune that, if a little bland, is nicely produced and features a nice vocal performance from Diana Ross.  She sounds confident and controlled here during the opening verse, with a nice dip to her lower register at 40 seconds in on the word “chances.”  I’d compare her work on this song to some of her work in the early 70s, post-Lady Sings The Blues; she sounds relaxed and really doesn’t push herself vocally, but because the song doesn’t call for it, the laid-back vibe works.  The production here sounds as dated as on songs like “It’s Never Too Late” and “Think I’m In Love,” but it’s still a pleasant listen.

9.  Work That Body:  Ah, “Work That Body”…this, the album’s third single, may be one of the most maligned of all Diana Ross releases; it wasn’t a big hit at the time (it just missed the top 40, though it did better in the UK), and in the years since has gained a reputation for being a “Physical” (Olivia Newton-John’s 1981 hit) knock-off and nothing more.  It is notable in that it’s the first Diana Ross single ever to credit her as writer, along with Ray Chew.  Personally, I kind of like this ode to aerobics; it’s as campy as The Weather Girls’s “It’s Raining Men” and incredibly catchy; Diana doesn’t so much sing as kind of speak along in a raspy voice, but at least she sounds like she’s having a good time.  The choice to include another voice actually acting out the role of aerobics teacher during the dance break is actually kind of genius, as well.  The lyrics are completely ridiculous, with the opening, “Every morning when we wake, to make up for that piece of cake, we ate last night…” ranking among the most brainless Diana ever released.  But, again, this isn’t supposed to be a serious song; this ain’t “Theme From Mahogany” after all.  This is a song about the joys of looking good, and if nothing else, it remains a completely entertaining listen, if only to sing along with Diana Ross about being the “hottest girl in town!”

***

In terms of Diana Ross’s career, Why Do Fools Fall In Love did exactly what it was supposed to do, which was to prove that Miss Ross could turn out a hit album and singles without the association of Motown Records.  Although many have intimated that the success of the album and singles was due mainly to the fact that it closely followed diana and “Endless Love,” and therefore rode on the coattails of those Motown successes a bit, I think the two top 10 hits completely deserved to be recorded and released; “Why Do Fools…” and “Mirror Mirror” both still sound like hits today, and are great examples of Diana Ross’s talent at bridging the pop, R&B, and dance genres.  While some of the tracks here are muddled and perhaps a bit bland, they are no more so than some of the songs on the Touch Me In The Morning, Diana & Marvin, and Diana Ross (1976) albums.  And again, the fact that the songs do form a seamless collection qualifies the album at least as one of the more sonically smooth of her career, especially in light of the disjointed album that follows this one (1982’s Silk Electric).

Final Analysis:  4/5 (Diana “Can Make It” On Her Own)

Choice Cuts:  “Mirror Mirror,” “Why Do Fools Fall In Love,” “Sweet Surrender”

Trivia:
The Grammy nominees for Record of the Year that year were:
Kim Carnes, “Bette Davis Eyes” (Winner)
Christopher Cross, “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)”
John Lennon, “(Just Like) Starting Over”
Diana Ross & Lionel Richie, “Endless Love”
Grover Washington, Jr. With Bill Withers, “Just The Two Of Us”

The Grammy nominees Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals that year were:
The Manhattan Transfer, “The Boy From New York City” (Winner)
Hall & Oates, Private Eyes
The Pointer Sisters, “Slow Hand”
Diana Ross & Lionel Richie, “Endless Love”
Steely Dan, Gaucho

About Paul

Album-by-album, track-by-track, a look at the entire Diana Ross discography...
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46 Responses to Why Do Fools Fall In Love (1981)

  1. Tony says:

    I call this the “Arrogant Album” from the cover to the background vocals. I did love the title track- it was fun and up! I adored and was addicted to Mirror Mirror – it was dark and sexy! I still enjoy these 2 songs very much today. I think Diana believed she was onto something with this new sound and as a result she pursued this new style for too long , losing much of her fan base. This album should have only been a one off creative work. Rather it was a complete shift in her style for years to come. I think that the success of this album – gave Diana the sense that she was on to something great as far a finding a new sound, when really we were just impressed with this new sound for only a short time. This is where her arrogance came in. She refused, for years to believe that this sound did not have staying power- thus she put out several albums with this sound – waiting for a hit! She refused to abandon the thin, processed, electric sound. I recall waiting for years for her to return to a more classical Diana ross- (Yes there were a few moment in the RCA years that hinted at it), but I missed my Diana after this album!

    I want to say – I do admire her courage, to play with her sound, to play and experiment with her voice – and as a one off creative work — it is well received.

    • Antje says:

      So well said, Tony. It was the last of her albums I bought then. I too liked “Mirror Mirror” a lot, but now I think it’s way too long – something that would recur with several songs to come (Dirty looks, I love you – just to mention a few). I must admit I like the naivete of “Two can make it”, and there is no one who can coo “UUUhhh yeah” at 2:14 like her. I call it my “silly feel good song”. And I do HATE “Endless love” – sorry folks, I do not want to step on anybody’s toes, I am aware that a lot of people’s precious memories are connected with this one. Her solo version is almost unbearable to listen to, she sounds so strained – this was the final straw that made me quit her music (but of course I am glad I returned after so many years).
      And I know, Paul, it is not about the number of stars – but 4 in comparison to her debut with 4.5???

      • Paul says:

        ha ha ha…Antje…I knew people would question the 4 stars. I had put it at 3.5 originally, but I personally think the two hit singles are so strong they elevate the entire album. I admit a strong bias here…this was the first DR album I ever heard (thanks to my mom, who bought it to do aerobics to) and is the reason I fell in love with her, so it will always hold a special place for me! I used to sit in my bedroom playing this album over and over again!

    • Paul says:

      Tony, there is an arrogance to the album, but I think it’s warranted — this was Diana’s time to really “come out” and trust herself, and she was at the top of her game in 1980-1981. I think that confidence is what sells the album…even with the odd vocal production on many cuts (which gets much, much worse on “Silk Electric” — on which she sounds like she’s shouting through an old air conditioning vent). Perhaps because I’m an 80s child and this was the first Diana Ross I was ever exposed to, I have a soft spot for it — but objectively I also think it’s at least a better album than many of those to come in the 80s…

      • Tony says:

        I agree Paul the arrogance is warranted! I just didn’t want it to cloud her judgement for the future ( which it did) This album and its success made her feel she could do no wrong and stopped listening to those around her. There is a great expression, “Nothing fails like success.” Sometimes when we experience success – we stop doing the very things that made us successful in the first place. She took her success with the last few albums (especially this one) for granted , arrogance set in and … she stopped doing what got her to the success stage.

        I too have a soft spot for this album, lots of fun, great times …. wonderful memories! Like her , I was venturing out on my own- believing in myself! I was so excited for her at this time. Also I was proud of her and to be a fan of hers!

      • Paul says:

        Yes, I defintiely agree that the success of this album led her to make some poor choices down the road — most notably self-producing some songs that she probably should have let others handle. That said, it’s hard to fault her considering you know she was so happy being able to produce herself in the first place!

  2. wayne2710 says:

    A very fair assessment Paul, although I have to admit that this is one album I seldom play nowadays. Don’t know why, I think it just hasn’t stuck in my memory the way most of her recordings have. I suppose I also have to admit that if I never heard her sing the title track live ever again then, to me, it would be no great loss. Which is odd in itself because when I first saw her perform it live back in the day it was really impressive. Work That Body is a strange novelty that somehow has retained some sort of weird appeal to me. I’ll have to dig it out and listen to the cd and give it all another go.

    • Paul says:

      Wayne — there is something weirdly appealing about “Work That Body” — it’s so bizarre that you have to listen to it all the way through! I’m glad that Diana still performs “Mirror Mirror” in concerts, because it’s a song I always enjoy her doing live.

  3. spookyelectric says:

    Got to agree with you Paul – this album did exactly what it was supposed to do for Diana- continue her momentum as a crossover pop superstar at the top of her game. No one’s mentioned that outrageous gatefold sleeve – one can imagine there were discussions about that in some RCA boardroom – all that extra cost but I’m sure Diana and her people insisted. After all ‘diana’ was similarly packaged by Motown. It certainly asserted a confidence from Diana and her new label.

    In the UK, ‘Mirror’ wasn’t a hit (a little too ‘hard’ for radio here at the time I think) but ‘Work That Body’ was a smash, following ‘Fools’ into the Top 10. There was so much love in the UK for Diana that ‘Never Too Late’ even came as out as a 4th single. Although it just missed the top 40, I remember it being played to death on the radio.

    I don’t think there’s anything on here that really ranks amongst Diana’s best (though ‘Mirror’ certainly packs a punch) but its a fun, ‘up’ listen… even the solo, indulgent ‘Endless Love’ has a certain mesmeric appeal, I think.

    • Tony says:

      I actually really liked “Its Never Too Late.” I am probably the only one . I can’t put my finger on exactly why. I guess I kind of imagined her adding it to her live shows and perhaps entering with it! It sounds up and positive….

    • Paul says:

      YES — I love, love, love the cover — some might disagree, but I think it’s fantastic! It’s the reason I fell in love with Miss Ross in the first place! That odd leopard-print outfit is a classic!

  4. ejluther says:

    Well, here we are in the RCA years and another great analysis! I’ve always had a soft spot for “Work That Body” and find it funky in a way that “Physical” could only dream of. Plus, it’s worth noting that “Physical” single was also released in September, 1981, meaning that “Work That Body” was not a rip-off in the sense that it was a huge hit and Diana copied it. Rather, both songs came out at basically the same time and were riding the aerobics/gym craze. I wonder what would have happened if “Work That Body” had beaten “Physical” as a single release? Would “Physical” have then been seen as a “Work That Body” rip-off instead? Also, Diana apparently had aerobics on her mind as a business, too – on the liner notes of the LP was this: “For information on fan club and Diana’s disc aerobics write to Rainbow colors of my life PO box 888, Westbury NY 11590” Maybe if “Work That Body” had been a bigger hit these “disc aerobics” would have become a reality? This video for the song certainly seems to suggest so – I love that she changes leotards like she does gowns!

    • Paul says:

      Oh my God…can you imagine Diana’s disc aerobics?!? How fantastic would that have been!!! I’d never really looked at the timeline of “Work That Body” vs. “Physical” — interesting — I kind of wish Diana’s song had been a bigger hit — I know it’s totally campy and silly, but there’s something really, really likeable about it! And that video!!!!

  5. Tony says:

    The video…. Simply showing off. Mary wilson must have just turned green when she saw it. Diana was no longer the skinny one in the middle. Now she was the sexy one – solo!

  6. markus says:

    Excellent review once again! I pulled my copy of this album out a few days ago anticipating your review coming up. I always thought the title track was a bit too much Vegas-cheese (could it be I’m just subconsciously intertwining the song and the video? lol) but I cant deny its sheer joy and exuberance.
    I liked the comparison to between Sweet Surrender and Isaac Hayes’ Walk on By- i wouldn’t have associated the two, but i can definitely hear it. And I absolutely agree with everything you said about Mirror, Mirror- fantastic song and one that deserves its place alongside other classics in Diana’s canon.
    I gotta say I do love Think I’m in Love- the production has a very breezy AC feel to it, but i love Diana’s vocal- the lyric has a very uncertain, hesitant tone to it, and I think her performance matches the lyric perfectly. It may not have worked as well if Diana sounded really assertive and confident.
    As for Work That Body…how can one not love it!? LOL Seriously, it’s easy to look back and say, “my God, what was she thinking”, but at the time the move actually seems pretty savvy on Diana’s part, since it caught on to a national craze just as it was reaching its zenith. And the Brits obviously loved it, since they put it in the Top 10 in the UK (Mirror, Mirror only reached #36). And yes, i have it on my iPod- when you’re on the treadmill or the elliptical, can you think of a better song to get you going??

    • spookyelectric says:

      Diana and her team definitely had their finger on the commercial pulse of the day with ‘Work That Body’ – not only Olivia’s Physical, but ‘Fame’ the movie and TV series, Jane Fonda’s Workout and loads more where all huge at the time. You certainly get the sense that RCA and Diana were trying to capture the pop moment with her label debut in a way Motown arguably hadn’t ever attempted so aggressively in recent years.

      There was load of marketing dollars spent on this record – with three promos videos shot – a first for Diana and her newly formed ‘Anaid Productions’. That certainly boosted the record’s reach with the title track hitting big globally and ‘Mirror’ in US and ‘Work That Body’ in Europe. And it worked – I’m pretty sure this is the biggest seller of her RCA Years by far.

      • Paul says:

        I think you’re right — this is probably her biggest seller from the RCA years still — and it’s one of the few that’s pretty easy to get on CD, and seems to have been in print longer and more continuously than any of the other RCA releases.

    • Paul says:

      Markus — it’s on my iPod, too 🙂

  7. “Mirror, Mirror” have the feel of “Reflections” in tone and mood, it is a great song and it does bring Diana to the 80’s. I really wished the whole album had the same rock and roll/funk feeling. The other songs are good but not great and I must confess I danced to “Work That Body” at the clubs and loved it! Everybody did! When Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” came out I thought of Diana’s “Work That Body”. So if any one of you DJ’s is reading this please do a mash up of these two songs!

    • Paul says:

      I’d never thought about it before — but “Hollaback Girl” is kind of reminiscent of “Work That Body” — too bad Diana’s song couldn’t have been the hit that Gwen’s was!!!

  8. chris meklis says:

    As usual my friend- your writing is incredible and wonderfully descriptive..

    Here’s my take: I have never enjoyed this RCA album like I have come to enjoy the others- and the cover is one of my worst- with the Swept Away cover being one of my best (shoot me now lol).

    My favorite track on the album is indeed Sweet Surrender- and I love love love the “strange new” vocal sound on this song and her sexy, smoldering treatment- especially when she says “I keep RUNNING for cover” in the 2nd verse- it’s so wickedly playful and sexy and kind of a taste of things to come like ‘Oh Teacher’ from EA 1985 or ‘Shine’ from RHRAB 1987 or even the divinely captivating languishing ‘Telephone’ on SA 1984!

    If anyone were to ask me which Diana Ross albums I mostly play today- my answer is her RCA and 2nd Motown collections except for Baby Its Me, Surrender, Diana Ross 76 and maybe The Boss.
    It also has to do with the fact that I first discovered the wonder that is Miss Ross in the ’80’s with Swept Away being the first album I bought then Anthology 83.
    My Diana Ross was the ’80’s Ross- there was a sassy, and yes arrogance and confidence and for me this sound was ‘her sound’…funny enough it took me a while to get used to her 70’s sound and really long to get into the whole Supremes sound! lol

    Another aspect I find true is that though some of the albums were not popular amoungst fans at the time of their release (ie Last Time I Saw Him, Everything is Everything, Silk Electric and Ross 83), these same releases have seem to have attracted a cult like following as the years have rolled by and are more enjoyable now then they were then!

    Silk Electric most definitely one for me with the passing of time I have learned to really appreciate and like as with Ross 83!
    Remember Silk Electric was perhaps intended as a bit of a concept in sound….”Silk being Diana’s voice and “Electric” the sound fused with the vocal….so in that respect the album kind of worked.

    But getting back to this album- I also love Sweet Nothings- the same teasing vocals like in Sweet Surrender, and yes there is something infectious about It’s Never Too Late.
    I find Why Do Fools Fall In Love a little irritating and hate her live rendition save for the pumping one performed at Central Park.

    Mirror Mirror was a tour de force in proving a proper rock cross- over and making it work. It could have been a mess where she went too far- a little like Fool For Your Love the next year, but Mirror Mirror still retained a ‘popability’ to it and is a well put together track and vocal.

    Interesting that as much as Miss Ross has been touted a difficult person to work with- she has retained many of her writers and musicians and engineers from this supposedly ‘arrogant’ period…Ray Chew, Paul Riser, Larry Alexander, Michael Sambello who wrote Mirror Mirror also wrote Heavy Weather for her years later, and the incredibly talented Michael Brecker who provided the haunting sax interlude on Sparkle on The Boss album also lends his sax to Sweet Nothings here.

    I enjoy Work That Body and adore the cutesy Two Can Make It.
    Can’t wait for your Silk Electric posting.

    Props to you

    Chris x

    • Paul says:

      Thanks Chris! As I mentioned before, I’m in your boat — I discovered Ross with this album and “Swept Away” was the first Diana Ross album that I MADE my parents buy for me…and I was only 5 years old 🙂 So I have a real soft spot for the 80s Ross, too — and when I was younger, I really couldn’t appreciate her 70s sound, either! I think you’ll be happy with my analysis of “Ross” ’83 — it’s one of my favorites — though I’m not as big a fan of “Silk Electric” which is an album that I’ll listen to, but has never really grown on me.

      • As a fan of Diana Ross since I also was 5, I have greatly enjoyed reading every part of your “Project” thus far, and have been reading in chronological order. My intent was to wait and make various comments, intermittently, once I had enjoyed all of your spot-on reviews. BUT, in reading the above comment that you also discovered her at 5, and yet your discovery was at age 5 in 1982?! A baby, you are! For that alone, my jealousy of your youth should negate my devout following of your site. Instead, I am now even more impressed with your reviews and dedication to this subject. Your words are eloquent, honest and certainly sound as if you, like me, grew up with DR through the 60s, 70s and beyond. That still doesn’t mean I don’t hate you for being 5 in the early 80s. 😉
        Seriously, though, thanks for all your time, hard work and professionalism in handling such a subject matter with the candor and objectivity it deserves. You will hear from me further, like it not, as I also am a resolute follower of Ross’ career and music, and my profession in the entertainment creative community has enabled me some unique DR insights regarding her career and professional struggles. That said, I definitely look forward to your opinions on her less than stellar “missteps” known as the RCA years. A lost career opportunity, if ever there was one. I truly believe Silk Electric, its reviews and dismal display of talents, single handedly, rendered her irrelavent and out of vogue to the American Pop, Youth and Record Buying culture of the time. An amazing feat, considering her string of hits and successful touring that took place just a year and two prior. Especially given the fact that Tina Turner would subsequently hit the scene in a couple of years. Proving an American adversity (pop, youth, culturally and otherwise) in elevating and revearing a middle aged, African American, female recording artist from the 60’s, was nonexistent at the time.

        By the way, I turned 5 in 1969! My career in Hollywood necessitates a little fudging in this department, so my real age is just a technicality anyway. Among my professional community, I am known to have been born in 1973, rather than ’64. So in relation to your site, I guess I can have my cake and eat it too…I personally remember certain points and years of her Supremes and 70’s solo work, while at the same time also “discovering” Diana Ross at age 5, by necessity, during a similar timeframe as yourself. Here’s to you and your fascinating read regarding Diana Ross’ discography. A job superbly executed!!

      • Paul says:

        lol — Rick — I feel about 70 years old, if that makes it better 🙂

        I am so, so excited to hear your insights into Miss Ross’s career and whatever “behind the scenes” info you can give!

    • Tony says:

      The cover is “an acquired” taste. (wink)

  9. chris meklis says:

    In my last msg…it sounded like I dont like Surrender, Baby It’s Me etc…but I love those the most from 1st Motown era- thats what I meant to say

    C x

  10. Tony says:

    “Get the message… its never too late” to become a Diana Ross fan. Is it not amazing how many generations she spans. My Mother LOVED her in the Supremes, Me in the 70, 80.(to Present) My 15 year old nephew is in LOVE WITH HER NOW!!!!! He is hooked on Take Me Higher and the I LOVE YO ALBUM!!!! My nephews mother (my sister) passed away a few years ago. My Nephew dedicated the song ”I Love You ” to his mother. As someone older than you young men, I experienced the opposite reaction to the 80’s Diana. I recall feeling confused by her sound at times (change is always hard). I was loyal and dug deep to try to appreciate the direction she was going in. I wanted to trust her. It took time but I did come along. I did learn to appreciate the 80’s Diana and today I really do love some of the material. I find it a refreshing change to her earlier material. I do find myself rediscovering the 80’s Diana regularly. I recall loving Pieces of Ice, but confused as to how to dance to it back in the day! I was all over Swept Away, but struggled with the video of it. My Point…. My Mother had difficulty embracing the 70’s Diana . I had difficulty embracing the 80’s Diana. Change is difficult for any fan bass, yet Diana has obviously created several generational fan bases!! This in its self is amazing!

  11. chris meklis says:

    So Succinctly put Tony!
    I love love love Pieces of Ice for just the very elements for which it is sometimes criticized…stunning almost dark instrumental- love the video and I’m glad that it has been forever captured for posterity via Central Park as is the stunning live rendition of Lets Go Up on the second day!

    • Paul says:

      Chris — I’m in total agreement on “Pieces Of Ice” and “Let’s Go Up” at Central Park — both are awesome!! I think “Pieces…” deserved to be a far bigger hit, and “Let’s Go Up” is one of Miss Ross’s best RCA singles, by far.

  12. spookyelectric says:

    Might interest some people to know there was a extended mix of ‘Work That Body’ released in some parts of Europe where it hit big – you can find it on YouTube…

    • spookyelectric says:

      Diana obviously was messing around when she talked about how much she loved that Frankie Lymon tune….

      • spookyelectric says:

        Ek autocorrect! I mean WASN’T messing around!! Not too sure how Diana felt when Elton threatened to tell to ‘cluck off’ though.

  13. SpringAffair says:

    A beautiful album from Diana.

    I never liked the title song though “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”, I just think its too cheesy, and to be honest, it bores me. I can see why it was a top 10 hit, because its catchy and memorable, but its just not to my taste. Diana’s “ah ah ahh ahh’s” at the end, is the only interesting part of the song.
    HOWEVER Songs like Mirror Mirror are AMAZING!! I love that song sooo much and its one of Dianas best.
    AND “Think Im in Love”!
    I think Im in love with that song, because, as you said, its dreamy and although slightly repetative, I think the lyrics are tender and sweet, and the chorus lines make me imagine the story being told. I agree, the high Eb5 notes on the word “love” are a bit weak….. but the overall beauty of the song makes up for it.
    I love sexy songs, the sexier the better!!! And this song has a strong erotic vibe in my opinion. Its subtle, but its there.
    If Diana ever released an album consisting of her various fabulous album fillers… this should be track 1! It would be a great opening track!
    🙂

    SpringAffair (A.K.A George)

  14. SpringAffair says:

    …… and just to add, I think “Work That Body” is a fabulous song!!
    Diana’s vocal is very commanding.

    this perfomance sounds so spontaneous and brilliant in every way, and she really lets her hair down and has fun with it.

  15. Piotr says:

    I am big Diana fan from Poland! Yes, indeed Poland listens to Diana Ross 🙂 “Why Do Fools Fall In Love?” was the only available studio album by Diana Ross in Poland at the time I bought it back in 1999. Decade ago I thought that this album was absolutely great now I think it’s pleasant enough but not as moving as her 70’s efforts. “Mirror, Mirror” is definately a winner here along with “Sweet Surrender” and solo version of “Endless Love”. “Sweet Nothings” is simple, rock and roll cover and nothing special. I like “Think I’m In Love”-it’s not one of her most stunning pieces but fits nicely the content of the album. “Work That Body” is sadly ugly cousin of “Physical”. Generally, the album lacks the energy and excitement of her previous record (the unmatched Diana!) but serves as a reminder that Diana could take her music into her hands and control every aspect of it. Free from Motown chains she proved that without that label she can be successful and ambitious artist. All in all, it seems that “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” was like Diana’s “Control”- a kind of statement sent to the world saying that: “I’m finally on my own and control my career”. And we all know that in future it would bring her string of successful and not so successful releases.

    • Paul says:

      Hey Piotr! Great to hear from someone in Poland!! I’m glad you found this site and took the time to leave some comments! I agree that the album — while not close to matching “Diana”‘s excitement — served its purpose and emerges as a cohesive, consistent effort.

  16. Eric says:

    This album is a legend in my mind for 3 reasons:
    Work
    That
    Body!!!!

    Such an epic song!!! I adore it so much (though the video version is my fav-more cleaned up than the lp version )

    The album is nice . Not her best but not her worst I wonder why she doesn’t perform work that body ever!

    I also wonder what she thinks of that song now, or any of her songs? Has she ever praised a particular song/ album in public? Or tore down a past LP/song?

  17. davidh says:

    since there was so much talk and debate about dianas 80s albums I thought id stop in here to see what everyones opinions was and where better to start then here with this album. I remember it well, Diane was a hude hit with Diana album and even the kids that normally didn’t like her ,suddenly she was the IN thing.or woman,i should say. as a fan I was happy that she was popular again no matter what,even if I didn’t like the song. although I did like the two hit singles from this album and THINK IM IN LOVE has always been a favorite.
    still. I know I am the odd one out here on that one. however, after the success of Diana lp I think we were all expecting something different but, hey,it was a hit,. I have tried to like the other songs here but find them to bland and think your review is spot on again. I actually prefer the songs from SILK ELECTRIC more than I do this album especially WHO and LOVE LIES. I have had to make my own version of this album by coupling the two albums together. but I know I am again probably the odd one with that. I will have another listen to those other songs but I do think the new Diana sound was good. she was POP again.
    over the years she had been the DIVA but never the Queen of….. but I always thought she was the Queen of POP. always. and still is.
    today the other ladies count ALL their number ones from all the various charts,while Diana has only counted the number ones on Billboard pop charts. but if you add in all her number ones from all the charts, she is the QUEEN. thanks for your review and for refreshing our take on her music.
    to me ,this decade was all about her eturn to the pop charts(IMO)

  18. davidh says:

    I listened to this album today and I found I like it better than I thought. even the few I didn’t like had a nice pop quality to them. I still like SILK Electric more though.

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