Why Do Fools Fall In Love (1981)

“It’s never too late to hold the power in your hands…”

The opening line of the November 1981 Ebony cover story on Diana Ross said it all:  “Now that the unspeakable — no, unthinkable — has actually happened, now that Diana Ross has cut the umbilical cord which for 20 years has tied her to Berry Gordy’s Motown recording empire, fans of the 37-year-old superstar are debating the meaning and the pros and cons of her move.”  Indeed, since signing her first contract with the label in January of 1961, Diana Ross had been so inextricably linked to Motown that it was nearly impossible to think of one without the other; founder Berry Gordy, Jr. had orchestrated a decades-long campaign to turn Miss Ross into an entertainment superstar, while the singer’s incredible talent and inexhaustible work ethic had likewise brought Motown a kind of commercial success afforded to few record labels throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

For Ross, the downside to this relationship was the long-standing assumption within the music industry that she was little more than a puppet, following orders without any creative input or ability to make her own decisions.  As Rob Hoerburger wrote in Billboard, “…she always seemed to need someone else to put her voice in the right surroundings and tell her, ‘OK, Diana, time to be sensual,’ or ‘OK, Diana, let’s turn on the schmaltz.’  As such, the greatness of her records resulted for the most part because somebody behind the scenes pulled all the right strings” (November 14, 1981).  In truth, Ross had been taking more and more control of her career, her confidence growing with the critical and commercial success of 1979’s The Boss and 1980’s diana.  In the wake of the latter, a platinum smash, Ross was offered an irresistible seven-year contract with RCA Records for a reported $20 million, a record-breaking deal at the time.  Best of all, Ross would gain a newfound artistic freedom, telling Ebony, “Actually, [Michael Jackson] inspired me to do this next album because he produced his own album. The one I’m working on now, I’m producing.  I don’t know what the title will be.”  According to engineer Larry Alexander, Diana’s decision to self-produce came after her previous collaborators, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, told her they were too busy to immediately return to the studio.  “So she booked studio time to start the album,” Alexander told Tape Op in 2013.  “We went into the studio and had so much fun. She had the best band and the best arrangers.”

For that all-important first album with RCA, Ross chose an eclectic batch of nine tracks, beginning with “Why Do Fools Fall In Love,” originally a hit in 1956 for Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers.  “That’s one of the first songs I used to sing, before The Supremes even,” Ross explained during an appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” and the song ended up becoming the album’s title track and first single.  Second single “Mirror, Mirror” was co-written by Michael Sembello, a session guitarist who would go on to score a major hit single on his own with 1983’s “Maniac,” and Diana herself helped write the album’s third single, the aerobic dance track “Work That Body.”  Ross and RCA certainly weren’t about to miss a chance to capitalize off of “Endless Love,” the singer’s recent blockbuster duet with Lionel Richie (#1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for nine weeks), so the singer re-recorded a solo version for her album, too.  In the end, Diana produced every single track for her RCA debut, describing the experience to Ebony, “I would always compromise if I liked something and [my producers] didn’t like it.  This time I get the chance to trust myself and believe in myself and do what think, things that like, and trust that, maybe, it’s going to be okay.”

Released in November of 1981, just in time for the holiday sales rush, Why Do Fools Fall In Love finally brought Diana Ross the kind of critical acceptance as an albums artist she’d long been denied.  “For the first time on any Diana Ross album, she sounds like she’s doing what she wants, and the result is the most alluring album of her career,” raved Rob Hoerburger in Billboard, continuing,  “No longer does she just supply the paint.  Now she’s wielding the brush, and the result is nothing short of a masterpiece.”  Stephen Holden in Rolling Stone wrote that the album “scores handsomely” and that it “presents a clear case that Diana Ross is one of the most original and influential pop talents of our time.”  Creatively, the album is largely a success for the singer, too; listened to nearly 40 years later, most of the songs certainly sound dated, but they do form a sonically cohesive set and seem to represent the artist’s vision in a way that many of her previous albums had not.  The quality of the songs is variable; second single “Mirror, Mirror” is among the singer’s best, while the solo version of “Endless Love” is easily among her worst, but in the end the album accomplishes its goal, which is to prove that Diana Ross could be a viable artist outside of the Motown fold.

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Jet: December 3, 1981

1.  Why Do Fools Fall In Love:  “Ross’ first single for RCA has her digging back to a song that was a hit before she even signed with Motown.  It’s a giddy, lighthearted track which is a great change-of-pace from the solemn ballad ‘Endless Love,’ now in its ninth straight week at No. 1,” wrote Billboard in its October 10, 1981 issue, and the very next week, “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at #56.  The song leapt into the Top 40 the following week, eventually peaking at #7, becoming Diana’s ninth top 10 hit as a solo artist (the single also peaked at #6 R&B and #2 Adult Contemporary).  Long before it was a hit for Diana, however, “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” had dominated the charts throughout much of 1956, thanks not only to its original version by Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers but also competing cover versions by Gale Storm, Gloria Mann, and The Diamonds (all four versions charted simultaneously on Billboard’s Top 100 for the week ending March 31!).  Lymon’s original was the biggest hit, of course, and remains an influential rock and roll classic; his group’s recording peaked at #6 on the Top 100 and #1 on the R&B Best Sellers in Stores chart.  Diana Ross has long been vocal about her appreciation for Lymon’s voice and his impact on her own singing career; she told Jet in 1981, “I used to sing it on the streets.  I’d walk through the backyard where I lived and there was an echo there and I’d sing ‘ahhh, ahhh’ like when he used to do the high part.  It just used to echo.  That was one of my favorite songs” (December 3).  For her own updated “Why Do Fools Fall In Love,” Miss Ross the producer enlisted Rob Mounsey as musical arranger; the prolific Mounsey had already contributed horn & string arrangements to several songs on the singer’s 1979 LP The Boss, which explains why the peppy feel of “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” recalls that earlier album in terms of the pure joy inherent in its groove.  The song is given a brassy, bouncy treatment here, with machine-gun drums, blaring horns, and a great guitar solo by Robert Kulick, known for his studio work with KISS (Diana happened to be dating KISS frontman Gene Simmons at the time).  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 song ever recorded by Diana Ross, and it certainly doesn’t stretch her much as a vocalist, but the vibrancy makes it a stand-out; she truly sounds happy and invigorated here, likely a reflection of her feelings about producing and being so creatively involved in the project.  To help promote the single, Diana recorded a music video for it in which she dances and sings down the Las Vegas strip; the clip received airplay on television programs including “Soul Train” and would later be included on her 1985 video collection The Visions Of Diana Ross.

2.  Sweet Surrender:  According to Diana Ross, this song almost didn’t make it onto Why Do Fools Fall In Love; the singer told Johnny Carson during a 1981 appearance to promote the record, “[‘Sweet Surrender’] is a song that was sent to me by 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.”  It’s fortunate that Ross did track down writers Lenny Stack and Cheryl Christensen, as “Sweet Surrender” is a highlight of the album, perfectly described by Rob Hoerburger in Billboard: “The rhythm section creates a steamy atmosphere, taking the listener on a trip through the tropics on the muggiest day of the year.  Ross’ voice then pours out the speakers like a cool, exotic thirst quencher.” (November 14, 1981).  Indeed, the heat generated by “Sweet Surrender” is almost unparalleled in the Diana Ross discography; the singer had done sexy very well in previous recordings including “Once In The Morning” and especially “Love Hangover,” but she takes it to the next level in this piece, surrounded by a dark, sensual track that’s heavy on the bass and topped by swirling, hypnotic strings.  This oil-smudged track was arranged by Ray Chew, who played for the “Saturday Night Live” Band at the time and would years later become musical director for the hit television show “American Idol.”  Chew figures prominently on Diana’s first few RCA projects, and clearly was an indispensable figure in her early producing career; Chew would later tell Huffington Post, “…at 18 I started working with Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson and they introduced me to the New York session scene as well as being their musical director for a very long time,” which explains the Ross connection.  Diana’s vocal perfectly matches the instrumental track, as she murmurs lyrics like “It’s gotta be fate, ’cause I can’t deny you,” her voice hushed and eerily doubled to good effect; there’s a near-robotic quality to parts of her delivery which only heightens the mesmeric tone of the entire recording.  If the album’s lead-off track is a sassy take on Diana’s past as a kid singing on a Detroit stoop, then “Sweet Surrender” is a peek at her present as a smart, sexy woman taking charge of her life.

Billboard: January 30, 1982

3.  Mirror, Mirror:  Had songwriter Michael Sembello had his way, “Mirror, Mirror” might have been a major hit for a popular singing group instead of Diana Ross.  According to The Billboard Book Of Number One Hits, “Sembello had originally given the tune to an associate of the Pointer Sisters, convinced it would be perfect for their intricate three-part harmonies.  Much to his surprise, however, the song was rejected as ‘a hokey nursery rhyme.'”  Speaking of surprise, imagine the shock of the Pointer Sisters and their producers when Diana’s recording of “Mirror, Mirror” came blasting out of radio speakers in early 1982; many words could be used to describe the song, but “hokey” sure isn’t one of them.  Simply put, this song is the masterpiece of Why Do Fools Fall In Love and one of the best singles Ross would release during the 1980s; when critics wrote of the singer’s newfound confidence on her first self-produced album, it’s likely they were reacting to this cut.  As produced by Miss Ross and arranged by Ray Chew, “Mirror, Mirror” is a slamming piece of funk-rock, easily the hardest-edged single of Diana’s career; the searing instrumental track is almost as good as the best work on 1980’s diana, which is saying a lot.  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.  Much credit goes to Grammy-winner Randy Brecker for the epic horn arrangement, Robert Kulick for another rocking guitar solo, and the great Ralph McDonald on percussion; the musicians here play with a tightness that elevates “Mirror, Mirror” far above most late-era disco-funk.  Diana Ross also gets a chance to flex her vocal muscles here, the song offering her a more challenging continuation of her work on “Why Do Fools Fall In Love.”  She again layers her voice on this cut, 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 real power behind her vocals, and an appealing rawness that brings out Diana’s natural soul; Stephen Holden smartly recognized in Rolling Stone, “No matter how sophisticated she tries to be, there’s always something of the street singer in her,” and no track on Why Do Fools Fall In Love showcases that street singer better.  “Mirror, Mirror” was the perfect choice for a second single, and after its release in January of 1982, the song followed the album’s first single right up the charts, topping out at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the R&B side, held from the top spot by her old friend Stevie Wonder’s “That Girl” (co-listed with “Work That Body,” the song also made it to #14 on the Disco chart).  Along with giving Diana Ross yet another Top 10 record, “Mirror, Mirror” was also apparently responsible for another one of the major hits of the decade; according to writer Michael Sembello, the rejection from the Pointer Sisters led him to pursue a career as a solo artist, and the following year he scored a #1 hit on his own with “Maniac,” from the film Flashdance.

4.  Endless Love:  When Lionel Richie first met with producer Jon Peters and director Franco Zeffirelli to discuss writing some music for the upcoming film Endless Love, little did any of them know that the result would be one of the most successful singles in the history of popular music.  According to The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Zeffirelli suggested Diana Ross as a possible candidate to sing with Richie on the title ballad, and although Miss Ross had just left Motown for RCA, the labels allowed the duo to go ahead and record together (Motown would release the single).  Within just a few weeks of hitting the airwaves, “Endless Love” had climbed to the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100, where it would remain for a staggering nine weeks; the song went on to garner an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song, along with Grammy nominations for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Duo of Group.  Although the record’s success was unprecedented, it’s entirely justified; as schmaltzy as some might deem it to be, “Endless Love” is a perfect pop love ballad, simple in melody and lyric and delivered with tasteful power by its superstar vocalists.  Certainly there’s no way Ross or RCA were going to miss out on a chance to share in some of the gold dust sprinkled by “Endless Love,” which is why Diana re-cut the song during sessions for Why Do Fools Fall In Love and included a solo, self-produced version on the album.  To be fair, Ross gets some credit for not producing a carbon copy of the original recording; here, every element is cranked up several notches, from the glossy instrumental track embellished by a prominent flute to Diana’s showier and emotive vocal performance.  Although Rolling Stone praised this “Endless Love,” calling it “much more impassioned” than the duet version and a Billboard Spotlight review dubbed it “marvelous and sensitive,” the truth is that Diana’s own version of the song is a perfect example of the old adage “less is more.”  The simplicity of the original duet was a perfect counterpoint to the saccharine lyrics, something Richie probably instinctively knew; it’s easy for love ballads to fall into a syrupy trap, and he managed to walk the narrow line by keeping the performances fairly restrained and honest.  Diana Ross, with this version, falls headfirst into that syrupy trap.  There’s no denying her voice sounds very powerful in this solo version; she’s extremely committed to the performance, and her voice soars (even if she occasionally falls into her old Supremes bit of over-enunciating to the point of self-parody).  However, the over-production really kills the song; the instrumental is so clouded and muddled and overdone that it sounds more like sappy elevator music than an appropriate track for Diana Ross.  Though the original duet is an undeniable highlight of Ross’s career, the version on this LP is barely listenable; amazingly, RCA considered releasing this solo version as a single and edited it down for a promotional release before wisely deciding to go with another one of the album’s tracks.

“Diana said, ‘Get me the best band in New York!’ She had people picking songs for her. She had people doing arrangements. She assembled a really great crew, which is what producers do. We get along really well. I love Diana. She’s very creative, has a lot of ideas, and she doesn’t like to be told no…She wants to try her ideas. If they don’t work, she’s the first one to say so.” -Engineer Larry Alexander, Tape Op (May/June 2013)

5.  It’s Never Too Late:  Just a few months after Diana Ross hit #1 on the Disco charts with The Boss in 1979, singer-songwriter Dan Hartman followed her there with “Vertigo/Re-light My Fire,” which topped the Disco Top 100 for several weeks in early 1980.  Along with experiencing success with his own recordings (including the big pop hit “I Can Dream About You” in 1984), Hartman also wrote and produced for other artists, giving James Brown a major hit in 1986 with “Living In America.”  Hartman penned “It’s Never Too Late,” and it’s no surprise why Diana would have wanted to record the song for her debut RCA release; with lyrics like “It’s never too late/To try and reach for your desires” and “It’s never too late/To hold the power in your hands,” the song certainly described what the singer must have been feeling as she enjoyed her newfound creative freedom.  “It’s Never Too Late” is the most traditional disco tune on Why Do Fools Fall In Love, with an upbeat production and repetitive melody tailor-made for the dancefloor; although it wasn’t released as a single, Diana did perform the song on an episode of “Soul Train” and it more than likely got at least a few spins in clubs across the country.  Miss Ross the producer seems to be taking a few cues from Ashford and Simpson this time around, giving the song a bounce reminiscent of several cuts on The Boss; several of the players here (including arranger Ray Chew, guitarist Eric Gale, and horn & string arranger Paul Riser) also took part in sessions for that earlier 1979 album.  Diana the producer also adds boisterous background vocals to the track, one of only two times on Why Do Fools Fall In Love in which she doesn’t handle all the vocals herself; noted session singers Margaret Dorn, Leata Galloway, and Millie Whiteside provide a bright, ringing counterpoint to Diana’s laid-back , confident performance.  Even with the talented musicians and strong vocals, however, there’s a flatness to the production of “It’s Never Too Late” that’s hard to ignore; the song never quite explodes from the speakers in the way that earlier Ross cuts like “I’m Coming Out” or even “Mirror, Mirror” do.  This may be the result of Diana’s inexperience as a producer; although technically the song is well-done, there are some dynamics lacking that could have really elevated the entire recording.  As it stands, “It’s Never Too Late” is a pleasant, if just a bit bland, addition to the album.

6.  Think I’m In Love:  Singer-songwriter Laura Taylor experienced some disco success in the late 1970s with the infectious “Dancin’ In My Feet” and today records and releases terrific jazz music; several artists have covered Taylor’s songs, including Diana Ross with “Think I’m In Love.”  In an exclusive conversation with THE DIANA ROSS PROJECT in 2018, Taylor remembers writing the song early in her career: “As with many of my songs this one started with a personal experience, and a ‘hook’ and a bass line that I found on the piano.  I was performing in New York and Atlantic City and living in Miami.  I honed it on the job with different groups and did a demo of it in Atlantic City.”  Amazingly, Beatles producer George Martin ended up hearing Taylor’s demo, and told her he thought the song was a hit and would be a good fit for Olivia Newton-John; together, they crafted a new demo of the song, which Taylor sent to Martin in London.  Meanwhile, Ms. Taylor recorded it again herself at The Hit Factory in New York, and through her attorney, it ended up with Diana’s team.  Says Taylor, “I knew nothing about Diana Ross recording it until it was finished and they needed my permission to release it…they said if I gave my permission for [Diana] to release it, it would be the first single off the new album!”  When it was decided that Diana’s recording of “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” would be the first single instead, Taylor was given the option of having the song placed as the b-side, which she agreed to, which is how “Think I’m In Love” ended up on the flipside of the album’s first single and Top 10 hit. It’s interesting to ponder what might have happened had “Think I’m In Love” remained the album’s first official release; as a composition, it’s one of the strongest on the album, and Diana’s instrumental track is a kind of hybrid of “Sweet Surrender” and “It’s Never Too Late” in the way that it bridges pop and easy listening with a soft disco vibe.  The most notable aspect of the production is the layering of the singer’s voice on the chorus, as she repeats the song’s title in a dreamy, almost staccato manner reminiscent of the Chic background vocals on her diana album.  Her vocal performance on the verses is smooth and accomplished; she reaches a high note a few times on the word “love” which is a nice touch, although she doesn’t quite go for it with the gusto one might expect from Ross at this point in her career.  Still, “Think I’m In Love” is a strong addition to the album; Laura Taylor performs the song live to this day, and online videos prove it works even better when sung by her with a stripped down, jazzier arrangement.  The songwriter, by the way, also shared a lovely story about meeting Miss Ross backstage in Las Vegas, shortly after the release of Why Do Fools Fall In Love; she says, “I thanked [Diana] very much  for recording my song and told her I appreciated her taking the time to meet me. She proceeded by saying ‘You know, your song was going to be the first single off this album.’ I said, ‘I know…it was very disappointing when you changed your mind.’  ‘Well,’ she said, ‘I had a little trouble with the high note!'”  (NOTE: Special thanks to Laura Taylor for sharing her memories with THE DIANA ROSS PROJECT!  You can check out her website here.) 

7.  Sweet Nothings:  Under the title “Sweet Nothin’s,” this song gave singer Brenda Lee a major hit in 1960; it was written by Ronnie Self, who also wrote Lee’s iconic “I’m Sorry.”  Lee’s original recording would have been peaking on the charts at the same time The Primettes (consisting of Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard, and Barbara Martin) were stalking the halls of Motown, hanging out after school and waiting for the day when they’d be offered a record contract; thus, like “Why Do Fools Fall In Love,” it’s most likely made an impact on the young Miss Ross and it’s easy to imagine the young singer crooning it with her friends on the front steps of Hitsville.  This is probably the most spirited cut on Why Do Fools Fall In Love, more rollicking in nature than “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” and certainly lighter in tone than “Mirror, Mirror” — it’s not disco, but it’s danceable funk with a rockabilly edge and a pleasant bounce.  The arrangement here comes courtesy Leon Pendarvis, Jr., known best for leading the “Saturday Night Live” band (which gives him a connection to Diana’s frequent collaborator Ray Chew, who also played in the band), and notable musicians include the Grammy-winning Brecker Brothers, who provide the horn arrangement (Randy) and play tenor sax (Michael).  As for her own performance on “Sweet Nothings,” Diana offers up her most playful vocal on the album; she’s sexy and breathy for most of the song, but throws in some nice guttural moments as a respectful nod to Brenda Lee’s rambunctious original.  The only real drawback 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 “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.  In any case, considering how well “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” did at pop and R&B radio, this song might have been able to gain similar traction had it been released as a follow-up; instead, the song was placed on the b-side of the “Mirror, Mirror” single in the United States, which was a solid hit and ensured plenty of people heard “Sweet Nothings.”

8.  Two Can Make It:  This is a light, classy piece of pop music written by a pair of men experienced in writing classy pop music.  Tom Snow had already given Miss Ross a moderate hit when he penned “Gettin’ Ready For Love,” the debut single from her 1977 LP Baby It’s Me; Snow also wrote that album’s superb cut “Top Of The World.”  Dean Pitchford, meanwhile, won an Academy Award for writing the lyrics to the 1980 hit “Fame,” and would later write the screenplay and music for the hit film Footloose.  Had Richard Perry produced “Two Can Make It,” it probably could have worked on Baby It’s Me; there’s a crisp, clean feel to the song that brings to mind that album’s “All Night Lover.”  Thankfully, producer Ross also does right by the song, giving it a nice lilt; there’s a bit of an early-Motown-Supremes vibe in the way the piano bounces and the horns lend a sweet, melodic touch.  Diana turns in one of her more enjoyable vocals here, wisely bringing her voice to the front of the recording; unlike the previous “Sweet Nothings,” there’s a brightness to the vocal production that brings out the best qualities in the singer’s voice.  For whatever reason, when producing herself, Diana Ross would tend to bury her own voice, muddying her own sound in favor of the instrumental track (this is especially an issue on 1982’s Silk Electric), so it’s nice to hear her bell-like tone lead the way through this tune.  Diana even throws in one of her patented “ooh” sounds, the kind she made famous way back on 1964’s “Baby Love,” at roughly 33 seconds in, and gets the chance to show off a bit of range as her voice slides down on the word “chances” at the 0:40 mark.  Although it tends to be overlooked in favor of the album’s hit singles, “Two Can Make It” is a standout track that still sounds good today; it’s certainly evocative of the early 1980s, but the subtle nods to Diana’s own musical past help it feel timeless in a way other cuts here don’t.  (NOTE: “Two Can Make It” was released as the b-side of Why Do Fools Fall In Love‘s third single, “Work That Body.”)

“Work That Body” hits #10 on the Jet Soul Brothers chart,   May 31, 1982

9.  Work That Body:  “Ross gets into physical on this zesty ode to dancercize.  A natural for the morning drive, this could easily become Ross’ third top 10 single from ‘Why Do Fools Fall In Love,'” wrote Billboard on April 10, 1982, as “Work That Body” was released as the album’s third and final single in the United States.  The positive review is, of course, giving a nod to Olivia Newton-John’s massive “Physical,” which hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in November of 1981 and stayed there for ten weeks, just beating out nine-week residency of Diana’s own “Endless Love” earlier that year.  In the years since, “Work That Body” has sometimes been derided as a “Physical” knock-off, an attempt by Miss Ross to jump on the aerobics bandwagon in the aftermath of Newton-John’s success; in reality, the singers likely recorded their songs around the same time, and Why Do Fools Fall In Love had already been released by the time “Physical” hit the top spot on the charts.  “Work That Body” is one of the undeniably great campy moments of Diana’s career, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with certain moments from Mahogany in terms of eye-popping, over-the-top ridiculousness; Diana’s own daughter Tracee Ellis Ross paid tribute with a hilarious recreation of the song’s music video in 2015.  At the time of its release, however, critics took “Work That Body” seriously, with Rolling Stone calling it “an engaging piece of calisthenic dance music” and Billboard praising “one of the grittiest vocals of [Diana’s] career” and predicting “listeners will probably be burning a hole in through the floor with their feet.”  Just after the album’s release, “Work That Body” did climb to #14 on Disco charts co-listed with “Mirror, Mirror,” and although it stalled at #44 on the Billboard Hot 100 (#34 R&B), it was a big hit in the United Kingdom, topping out at #7.  The song is particularly notable for being the first single ever co-written by Diana Ross; on a 1982 episode of “Soul Train,” Ross would remark, “This is really new for me, I’ve been trying to write songs for years.  I came up with a concept for this song…just a few of the lyrics were really mine, the lyrics were written by Paul Jabara.”  Jabara, of course, is the writer of classics including “Last Dance” and “It’s Raining Men,” and he and Diana would later co-write “Ladies Hot Line,” recorded by The Weather Girls; musician Ray Chew is also credited as a co-writer on “Work That Body.”  Because Miss Ross co-wrote “Work That Body,” it will always hold a special place of interest for fans and those studying the singer’s career; it remains one of only a handful of Ross compositions.  That said, the track is very much a product of its time, feeding into the aerobics craze of the ’80s and featuring a chunky, late-disco rhythm section.  The song is also maddeningly catchy; Diana doesn’t so much sing as kind of speak along in a raspy voice, but she sounds like she’s having a great time in the studio.  The lyrics, of course, are completely ridiculous, with the hilarious opening, “Every morning when we wake/To make up for that piece of cake/We ate last night…” representative of everything else to come.  But, really, this isn’t supposed to be a serious song; it’s not exactly “It’s My Turn,” is it?  This is a song about the joys of looking good, and it remains a completely entertaining listen, if only to sing along with Diana Ross about being the “hottest girl in town!”  Certainly credit goes to Mr. Jabara, who clearly lent a gay sensibility which has helped the song (along with “It’s Raining Men”) outlive many others of the era.  For example, 15 years after listeners first heard “Work That Body,” no less a diva than the fabulous RuPaul brought the song back for his 1996 album Foxy Lady.

***

Why Do Fools Fall In Love went on to become one of the most successful Diana Ross albums of all time; it peaked at #15 on the Billboard 200 and #4 on the R&B Albums chart, and was the singer’s second studio album to be certified platinum, marking sales of at least one million albums.  Certainly the flurry of publicity surrounding the album helped; Diana appeared on several television programs including “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” and “Soul Train,” and was the subject of a “20/20” profile piece on ABC.  On January 24, 1982, the singer also sang the National Anthem before Super Bowl XVI at the Pontiac Silverdome near her hometown of Detroit, one of the most-watched television events in history at the time.  Not only was her performance superb and pitch-perfect (not to mention a capella!), but it was trailblazing, in a way; according to writer Lorenzo Arguello on the website Business Insider, “Early on, the NFL called on college marching bands like Grambling State University and the U.S. Air Force Academy to perform ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’  The league’s first foray into having pop artists sing the National Anthem came in 1982 when Diana Ross performed.”

But beyond the abundance of publicity and the general interest in a post-Motown Diana Ross, Why Do Fools Fall In Love does artfully capture the era in a way that the public clearly responded to.  The energy, the genre-blurring productions, and certainly the heightened sensuality of the music are emblematic of the early 1980s, and even if they sound dated today, the songs do 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,” for example, cries out for the harder edge of Diana’s work with Chic — they’re certainly not bad recordings (except for the dreadful “Endless Love”).  Why Do Fools Fall In Love doesn’t really 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.

Final Analysis: 4/5 (A “Sweet” Success)

Paul’s Picks:  “Mirror, Mirror,” “Why Do Fools Fall In Love,” “Two Can Make It”

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About Paul

Album-by-album, track-by-track, a look at the entire Diana Ross discography...
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51 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 🙂

    • Wayne Hill says:

      ‘why do fools’ single was the first recorded I ever bought! The B side in the U.K was ‘ Think I’m in love’ I ended up listening to this more that the A side. I always thought it sounded so classy with a beautiful rich sound and stunning vocals from Diana. I have fond memories of that 7″ Vinyl. Apart from mirror and work the rest of the album was just to pop and no soul for me

  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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  26. david wilson says:

    When this album was first released I was totally underwhelmed. Following the amazing success of the CHIC produced Diana album which was so “current” at the time and restored Diana’s “cool” and “”credibility” in the industry and put her back at the top of the pile,, this first post Motown album seemed to be a backwards step. “Why Do Fools” sounded like a disposable frothy pop piece of fluff that to my surprise became a massive hit on both sides of the Atlantic. To me it lacked the class and sophistication that was the hallmark of a Diana Ross recording. I never really warmed to any of the tracks and it quickly ended up at the back of my collection, rarely played and none of the tracks were ever selected for the many Diana Ross compilation tapes I made for the car. For me the 80s were Diana’s wilderness years, her star waned and chart success became elusive with the exception of “Missing You” (which hovered around the bottom of the UK chart for six months) & the awesome Bee Gee’s production & No 1 “Chain Reaction” here in the UK. Having read your updated review I decided to revisit WDFFIL? almost 40 years after its release. Giving it a serious listen I was amazed to find myself re-evaluating the entire album! I really enjoyed it! It’s so much better than I remembered it. The material isn’t half as cheesy as I thought back in the day. The only weak spot for me is “Sweet Nothin’s”. I’m so glad your review provided the spark that aroused my curiosity and led me to rediscover this album.

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