Swept Away (1984)

“I saw your light on the horizon, and I knew that I was blown away again…”

After a major hot streak lasting from 1979’s top 20 hit “The Boss” through 1982’s top 10 “Muscles,” Diana Ross had a brief cooling-off period music-wise in 1983.  Her LP Ross wasn’t really a hit, and featured only one top 40 single, “Pieces Of Ice.”  Though the year was high-profile for Ross due to her Central Park concerts, which enjoyed tremendous publicity, it’s likely she was already looking for her next big hit.  It came via an unlikely source — Julio Iglesias, the legendary Spanish singer.  Julio and Diana teamed up on the love ballad “All Of You,” for his album 1100 Bel Air Place; produced by Richard Perry (who’d helmed Diana’s masterpiece, Baby It’s Me), the single leapt to the top 20 of the pop charts, hit #2 Adult Contemporary, and was a smash in many other countries around the world.

The song set her up for a nice return to churning out hits, and 1984’s Swept Away didn’t disappoint.  Along with including “All Of You,” the album featured the energetic and slightly dark title track, produced by Daryl Hall, which also went top 20 (and hit #1 on the dance charts).  This, then, was Diana’s first album since 1981’s Why Do Fools Fall In Love to contain two top 20 hits.  But Swept Away went one better, when the Lionel Richie-written ballad “Missing You” was pulled for release in late 1984; it shot to #1 on the R&B charts, her first since “Endless Love” (also written by Richie), and the top 10 on the pop charts.  This then, incredibly, became the first Diana Ross solo album ever to contain three top 20 pop hits, a major achievement for a woman who’d been a star for 20 years.

“Missing You” is the undoubted highlight of the set, and remains a career highlight for Miss Ross; however, Swept Away is a somewhat uneven album.  Though the hits are strong and there are some nice album tracks, the misses are big misses; “We Are The Children Of The World” and “Nobody Makes Me Crazy Like You Do” are two of the most unlistenable songs Diana would ever release.  In this way, Swept Away is kind of the 80s equivalent of 1976’s Diana Ross; that earlier album contained two of Diana’s biggest hits (the #1’s “Theme From Mahogany” and “Love Hangover”), but also featured “Smile” and “Kiss Me Now” among other very weak efforts.  Though the really great material on both albums helps elevate the works as a whole, it doesn’t quite balance out the really poor songs, either, making both albums interesting but at times challenging listening experiences.

***

1.  Missing You:  Though Diana Ross now has a lifetime achievement Grammy award, there are at least two competitive awards that deserve to be hers.  The first is a Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Grammy for “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” for which she was nominated but lost to Dionne Warwick (who won for “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again.”)  The second is a Best Female R&B Vocal Performance Grammy for “Missing You.”  Diana had no chance of winning this one — because she wasn’t even nominated — and this is one of the great Grammy mysteries of all time, given that the song was a solid hit (#1 for three weeks on the R&B singles chart) and is, I believe, the best ballad performance of Diana Ross’s entire career.  The genesis of “Missing You” came soon after the death of Marvin Gaye in 1984; Diana is quoted in The Billboard Book Of Number One R&B Hits as saying, “It actually came out of a conversation that Smokey Robinson and I had one evening about how we were missing Marvin…and what he meant to us, as well as to music.  Then Lionel and I got to talking about how we need to tell people that we love them while they’re still alive.  Lionel used all this to write that beautiful and special song” (340-341).  Certainly Lionel Richie knew a thing or two about Diana’s gifts in singing ballads, given that he’d teamed up with her on the massive hit “Endless Love” in 1981.  This song takes the best aspects of that previous hit — a touching simplicity and relatable, meaningful lyric — and adds to it an emotional depth and power that highlight the best qualities of Diana’s voice.  Her performance here is absolutely masterful; there’s a sorrow and somber quality to her voice that never becomes overdramatic or schmaltzy — the yearning in her voice as she sings questions like “Where did you run to?” and “What were you going through?” is completely authentic.  The real thrill of the song comes during the bridge, though, during which Diana unleashes a rare power in her voice; starting around 2:30 into the song, as she wails “I cried so many tears,” she’s pushing her voice in a way she really hadn’t since 1979 and her The Boss album.  The production is also beautifully done; never once do producers Richie and James Carmichael allow the instrumental to compete with Ross or become too overbearing.  This is, simply, one of the great R&B ballads of the decade; again, that it garnered no Grammy nominations at all seems baffling now, especially given that the song which followed it at #1 on the charts, “Nightshift” by the Commodores (coincidentally also dedicated to the late Marvin Gaye) won one for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.  Still, it gets my vote for the best ballad performance of Miss Ross’s career, and remains definitive proof that she’s among the very best pop and soul singers of all time.

2.  Touch By Touch:  The mood lightens considerably for Swept Away‘s second track, a bouncy, upbeat Island-flavored pop song that sounds like it could have served as a nice counterpart to Lionel Richie’s massive hit from the year before, “All Night Long.”  This track was released as a single internationally but not in the United States; had it been sent to radio and given some push by RCA, I think it could have been a major pop hit for Diana, likely even bigger than “Swept Away.”  The song has a fresh, vibrant feel even today, and Diana’s soprano is clear and confident, nailing all the notes with a crisp precision that matches the staccato feel of the instrumental track.  The song itself (co-written by Joe Esposito, writer of hits like “Flashdance…What A Feeling”) is extremely catchy; the “Touch…by…touch…” chorus is a great hook, and would have played nicely on radio (the instrumental break, by the way, is identical to the opening of the “Magnum, P.I.” television series theme song, a show that I loved as a kid, which made this song a favorite of mine!).  Certainly the heavily featured synthesizers sound dated today, but not to the point of distraction; they’re used effectively enough that, again, there’s still a freshness about the song more than 20 years later.  In terms of Diana’s RCA output, this is one of the better album tracks and is a nice way to follow the mastery of “Missing You;”  Diana also performed it live several times, notably on the American Music Awards during a hosting stint in the late 80s, and she sounded great singing the energetic song in front of an audience.

3.  Rescue Me:  As she seemed fond of doing in the 1980s, Diana reaches back to the past for the LP’s next track, “Rescue Me.”  This is a remake of the 1965 Fontella Bass song, which had hit #1 on the R&B charts (coincidentally just a few months after Diana and the Supremes had scored their first #1 on the R&B chart, “Back In My Arms Again”).  While Diana had scored with a successful cover of the R&B classic “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” a few years earlier, and would turn in a nice version of “Selfish One” a few years later, this particular track is not one of her strongest efforts.  The biggest problem here is her vocal; she’s singing in a high key (as she had on “Touch By Touch”), but sounds to be straining at times; rather than really pushing her vocal to the higher register and giving it some power, she doesn’t inject much fire into the performance, which ends up making her sound a little shrill when singing so high.  The instrumental track isn’t particularly strong, either; though there’s some nice guitar work (sounding very Chic-like on the solo), the track overall seems to be a little too sterile for a song that features such passionate lyrics.  This song isn’t terrible, and it’s not unlistenable, but after the one-two punch of “Missing You” and “Touch By Touch,” it does feel like a weak effort.

4.  It’s Your Move:  An interesting 80s pop song that, like “Touch By Touch,” still sounds good today despite featuring a dated instrumental track.  This is one of the strongest album tracks on Swept Away, thanks to the fact that it’s both a well-written song and features a nice, relaxed performance by Miss Ross.  Though it’s heavy on the electronic instruments, the actual melody line of the verses is written in the vein of the hits Diana was singing in the 1960s; just listen as she sings the opening words, “I don’t understand it ’cause you won’t say ‘yes,’ but you don’t say ‘no’…” — it could have come straight from a Supremes single.  The background vocals are also arranged in an almost vintage way that nods toward Diana’s Motown heritage while still sounding contemporary and youthful.  What really sets this track apart from several other weaker ones on the album, however, is that while it sounds youthful, it also sounds appropriate for Diana Ross to be singing.  Miss Ross turned 40 the year this album came out, and this song never once comes off as a case of the singer trying to sound younger; it’s modern and exciting while still allowing her to sound confident and seasoned while singing it.  I’m not sure that “It’s Your Move” could have been a big radio hit, given the fact that it doesn’t have the immediate excitement of “Swept Away” and “Touch By Touch” or the poignancy of “Missing You” and “All Of You,” but this is a well-chosen addition to the album.

5.  Swept Away:  Since signing with RCA earlier in the decade, Diana Ross had shown a real fondness for rock music; the harder sound hinted at in her 1981 hit “Mirror Mirror” led to the full-on rocker “Fool For Your Love” on Silk Electric and the electric guitar-driven “Up Front” on Ross.  That penchant for edgier music continues with this album’s title track, a rock/pop/dance track that features a powerhouse vocal from Diana.  The song was penned by Darryl Hall and Sara Allen — Hall, of course, is half of the pop/R&B due Hall & Oates, who’d owned the decade thus far with major hits like “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” and “Maneater” — and Ross herself contributed the opening spoken verse.  The rock tone is set immediately with the urgent drum beat; from there instruments begin to layer in, creating a swirling musical environment that becomes an almost literal translation of the title, “Swept Away.”  Most notable are the electric guitar (the solo is played by Hall) and shimmering, bell-like synthesizers, not to mention the superb background vocals.  Diana’s lead vocal, meanwhile, is her most urgent, frenetic performance in years; she’s completely committed to the lyrics, and really lets loose with her ad-libs, soaring to the top of her range and even growling out some lines here and there.  This is a perfect example of Diana’s talent in crossing genre lines; her performance could be categorized as pop, soul, dance, or rock, which is why the song charted all over the place.  Along with topping the dance chart (it was knocked out of the #1 spot by Chaka Kahn’s “I Feel For You” — and would be Diana’s last #1 on the dance chart until 1995’s “Take Me Higher”), it was a top 20 pop hit and also reached #3 on the R&B chart.  That success still seems deserved today; “Swept Away” may not be as timeless as “Missing You” or as focused as “Mirror Mirror,” but it’s a dynamic addition to Diana Ross’s long list of hits.

6.  Telephone:  This is sort of the “forgotten single” of Swept Away; the trio of pop top 20 hits get most of the attention, but “Telephone” was pulled as the album’s fourth single and reached the top 20 of the R&B chart.  What’s really interesting is that the song reunites Diana with one of the men responsible for her biggest album ever, diana (which featured the hits “Upside Down” and “I’m Coming Out”).  Bernard Edwards — who along with Nile Rodgers had written and produced diana in 1981 — wrote and produced this tune, which could be considered Diana’s first foray into hip-hop territory (something she’d explore further with, coincidentally, Nile Rodgers…on 1989’s Workin’ Overtime).  This is a sparse, beat-heavy chunk of soul with an extremely unusual vocal by Diana Ross; rarely since her early days with the Supremes had she sung in such a high register, and some of the notes she hits are pretty amazing, especially her run on the word “need” at around 3:30.  That said, Diana’s performance on “Telephone” is a little limited; though her voice has a striking clarity and pitch, the song doesn’t allow her to do much, and thus it’s not a song that reveals new layers with repeated listens, as “Missing You” and “Swept Away” do.  Interestingly, I think “Telephone” may have been a little ahead of its time for R&B radio — had it been released a year or two later, with artists like Janet Jackson and Pebbles scoring hits with songs built on strong, harder beats, perhaps it would have charted even higher than it did.

7.  Nobody Makes Me Crazy Like You Do:  This is one of the most jaw-dropping songs of the entire Diana Ross discography; it is so completely wild and bizarre that it makes earlier oddities like “Work That Body” and “Fool For Your Love” sound conservative by comparison.  Thus far the songs on “Swept Away” have ranged from really good to a little bland…but nothing could have prepared listeners for this manic, cartoon-like pop song that sounds like it was created on another planet.  Consisting of strange, electronic sound effects…a frantic, almost Europop beat…and Diana Ross sounding like she just sucked in a helium balloon, the song is certainly a novelty, and is impossible to take seriously after the tremendously grown-up tone set by the LP’s opening track.  The song’s bridge, during which Diana sings “Say…it’s alright…say it’s alright…say we’ll spend some time together…” has a campy horror-movie feel that makes you wonder if Diana wasn’t looking for her own “Thriller” here.  Of course, this song is no “Thriller,” and could never be…because Diana Ross was, at this point, a seasoned superstar who was just too good for one-note recordings like this one.  Is it an entertaining first listen?  Of course…it’s so weird that it’s totally entertaining.  Is it a song that sounds good with repeated listens?  I don’t know…because I can’t stand to keep listening to it.

8.  All Of You:  The album’s first single, this was a big adult contemporary hit that still gets play today (I hear it in grocery stores all the time), even though it’s almost never featured on Diana’s “Greatest Hits” collections and seems to have been totally forgotten by the singer herself.  It’s a very strong song, though, which isn’t surprising; Richard Perry, who produced it, was a master and certainly knew how to get a great performance out of Miss Ross, and Diana herself almost always acquits herself well during duets (minus several tracks on Diana & Marvin), knowing just how to showcase herself while allowing her partner to shine as well.  In this case, I think Diana turns in a far stronger performance than Julio Iglesias; he sounds fine, but she is really emoting here, and her sensitive performance allows her to display tenderness as well as some satisfying strength.  Listen, for example, to her sing “As long as you live!” at around 3:30, her voice soaring above the track and background singers; it’s a great moment of belting that sounds worlds away from her high-pitched performance on the previous track.  If there’s any issue for the song, it’s that it does sound a little dated, thanks to the high-gloss, echoey production, although the vocals are strong enough that I don’t think that detracts from the quality much.  The real problem the song probably faced is that each artist followed it up with a much bigger hit; Diana with “Missing You” and Julio with “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before,” a duet with Willie Nelson that shot to the top 5 of the pop charts.  Thus, attention on “All Of You” probably faded a little faster than it would have otherwise.  Still, this is among the better singles Diana Ross released while signed to RCA, and it deserves more attention in her discography.

9.  We Are The Children Of The World:  A spirited performance by Diana Ross is about the only reason to recommend this song, which is basically a collection of some of the lamest cliches in pop music.  Sadly, this song boasts her name as a co-writer; of the tunes she helped write during her stint with RCA, I’d say this is the bottom of the barrel.  The psuedo-rock instrumental track, with electric guitars, power drums, and popping bass, lacks any kind of excitement or edge, and the chorus of children that sings along with Miss Ross takes the song down to the level of a Saturday morning kids’ TV show theme.  Diana sounds strong during much of the song, but her vocal during the bridge borders on painful; to my ears, she doesn’t quite hit the right note on the word “lose” at around 2:50.  Most disappointing is that there is another Ross-written song that was left off Swept Away that would have been a much stronger addition than this one; “Fight For It” was the b-side to the “Swept Away” single, but never appeared on an album.  A slow-burning, funky rocker, it may be the best song Diana co-wrote in the 80s (she apparently produced it, too), and would have really elevated the quality of the second half of this LP.  What was she thinking?

10.  Forever Young:  Diana Ross ends the album with this famous Bob Dylan tune, which has been covered many times by many different artists.  After some very questionable choices over the second half of Swept Away, this song at least takes Miss Ross back to basics; she keeps her performance mature and simple, and at times almost sounds choked with emotion.  That said, the song has such a sad, somber quality that it’s almost tough to listen to.  While the lyrics of “Missing You” are far more morose, there’s a crispness to that production that allowed it (and the listener) to breathe.  This song is almost oppressively heavy; Diana really sounds like she’s singing it to someone who’s in the process of dying, and thus the song becomes almost too depressing to really enjoy, although the quality of her performance certainly can be appreciated.

Note: For information on bonus tracks from this album, click HERE.

***

Swept Away certainly did what it needed to do, which was to give Diana Ross some new hits and keep her on the charts.  Beyond that, it gave her a classic, “Missing You,” on which she offered one of the great performances of her career; as noted before, that she didn’t win that elusive competitive Grammy for this song — that she wasn’t even nominated for it! — is just a travesty.  The album itself holds up pretty well, although it’s bogged down by some very poor choices, especially during the underwhelming (and, at times, just plain bad) second side.  Had a few of those songs been replaced, this album could have easily been Diana’s best at RCA; instead, it features some sparkling highlights but lacks the consistent quality and cohesiveness of its predecessor, Ross.

Final Analysis:  3.5/5  (Some Great Tracks, But “Missing” More)

Choice Cuts:  “Missing You,” “All Of You,” “Swept Away”

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About Paul

Album-by-album, track-by-track, a look at the entire Diana Ross discography...
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70 Responses to Swept Away (1984)

  1. wayne2710 says:

    Spot on again Paul ! All of You is a highlight, not just of this album but of her entire 80s output. Strange how it has become ‘lost’. It is a very mixed collection though, I think she was trying to reinvent herself without really having any sound idea as to what she was supposed to be reinventing. From the dreadful Tina Turner wig on the cover photo to the depths of awfulness with We Are The Children of the Word. And then there are the soaring ‘highs’ like Forever Young and Missing You. Pity she didn’t just take the good stuff from this and combine it with the good stuff from Silk Electric and make one really amazing album and consign the leftovers to the garbage can ! Sadly though I doubt if she would have known at this point in her career which songs were good and which were just plain bad.

    • Paul says:

      Wayne — once again I think you nailed it — MIss Ross was changing with the times, which is admirable and necessary and we all know she’s great at doing it…but perhaps didn’t have a clear plan on which way to go at this point in her career. This is likely why the album is such a mixed bag. As she was executive producer, the credit for including the great songs goes to her…but so does the blame for the missteps. Wouldn’t you love the chance to sit with her and ask what went into these decisions?

    • Paul says:

      Also — I think part of Diana’s possible “dilemma” on musical direction at this time is also a result of the bizarre musical decade that was the 1980s. So much music from this decade doesn’t hold up — it was an era of some strange novelty tunes and new sounds in music, many of which didn’t work. This sort of “scattershot” musical climate also probably made it tough for someone established like Miss Ross to keep up with the times!

  2. Tony says:

    Very fair and complete review Paul. You once again have nailed it. As I look back I recall . I recall a lot of buzz about this album. I recall fans talking about Swept Away and how great it was. I purchased it it baited breath, not want to get my hopes up too high.
    The minute I heard “Missing You” I was relieved – to me Diana was back!!!!
    Missing You – had every element of what what makes Diana great. There is a lovely, hummable melody, There is her spoken sequence, There is her cooing and wowing. There is a rawness , force and climatic power to her voice- almost Wiz like. This song embodied all the element that make Diana Ross songs great! I was so thrilled. Having said that – the songs ends weakly. i think the song could have had a better ending as it almost seems unfinished. Loved the video too!
    The song ‘All of You also very nice – and just what I needed as a fan. Could I get into the track- Swept Away – Damn YES!!!!!!! love it ! It was cool – it was as they say in Italian, it was very “oggi” ( today ,now)! I too liked Touch by Touch and wondered why this was not released- very catchy. I personally enjoyed her rendition of Forever Young but I do believe it is extremely sad sounding. The above songs were so strong for me that they allowed me to forgive her for the other horrid songs on the album. Hate Telephone- and the other songs. I get the feeling that Diana was getting tired of looking for new directions. she just slapped stuff together. But I do believe she was starting to listen to people again, she was trusting in and turing to the experts for a change, thus allowing herself to be guided and managed a little more. Hence the good stuff on the album!! Thanks Paul – I was swept away – not blown away. BUt my Diana was coming back !!!!!!!!- and boy was I ever missing her by then !

    • Paul says:

      Tony — your posts always give me such a smile, because I can feel your enthusiasm and I totally get it! The high points of “Swept Away” are so good that it certainly makes this album a necessity for Ross fans…I just wish it had been more consistent. I have listened to it HUNDREDS of times…I pretty much have the entire thing memorized…and it’s one of the few Ross albums on which the songs I like haven’t changed, and the ones I don’t like haven’t changed. I loved “Missing You” from the minute I heard it (at 4 or 5 years old!)…but even as a kid I knew I didn’t like “We Are The Children…”!!!

  3. Dominic says:

    Great review! I agree with all of your comments, except “Telephone”, which I think is a near masterpiece, a magnificently lean slice of funk that is among the best things Diana ever recorded in her later career.

    I also love “Nobody Makes Me Crazy Like You Do”, but then again I also love “Fool for Your Love”, “Turn Me Over” and all the other weird oddities in Diana’s discography.

    • chris meklis says:

      I’m with you on Telephone Dominic and even Nobody Makes Me Crazy….I also think Telephone is a near masterpiece ahead of its time….unbelievable just how progressive Diana was in her career, yet this asset to her artistry was never fully appreciated like say Madonna’s

    • Paul says:

      Hey Dominic! Thanks for reading/commenting! I definitely understand how you feel about “Telephone” — again, I think it was ahead of its time should have charted higher than it did. It’s really not unlike a lot of the female R&B hits that would come out in the next few years, and certrainly Bernard Edwards knew his way around writing striking songs. I find “Telephone” to be a lot like “Now That You’re Gone” on the “diana” album.

      As for the oddities, I always, as a fan, enjoy discovering and hearing them, too…but listening to them repeatedly is a different matter 🙂 I gotta say I agree — I think the “Turn Me Over” gimmick is great!

  4. markus says:

    Another excellent review Paul…you assessed this album perfectly. Particularly great is what you said about Telephone. This is one of my best friend’s favorite Diana songs (and he’s not really a fan). I remember once on a road trip to NYC he’s sleeping in the passenger seat, I’m driving, middle of the night…and Telephone is playing. He stirs for one moment and says “her voice is so pure”, and then falls back to sleep. 😉
    I’ve often wondered if it would’ve sounded better with a more earthy, loose vocal from Diana (I usually dislike Diana singing such an affected way, like “In Your Arms”), but I think this actually fits the song well. But everything you said (“Hip Hop”, “a little ahead of its time for R&B radio”, etc.) totally spot on.

    I’ve always thought “Touch By Touch” is the hit that never was- not only comparable to All Night Long, but Debarge’s Rhythm of the Night as well, which actually was still several months away from release. Imagine if it had been the 4th single instead of Telephone?

    Agree with the Missing You, Swept Away and It’s Your Move (which is a fantastic album track) comments. Nobody Makes Me Crazy…for years I absolutely hated the song. It grew on me from a camp point of view. I must admit I’ve had people in my car and felt slightly embarrassed for Diana when it comes on, but she’s totally committed to this ridiculously quasi-avant garde new wave atrocity. But you know what? If you asked which song to get rid of between this and We Are the Children of the World, the “children” would get the boot. I’ll allow Diana a camp oddity on her album, but Children is toooooooooooooo saccharine and generic. Beyond bland.

    Fight For It kind hovers over the proceedings, doesnt it? They really couldnt have squeezed onto the vinyl? or couldnt Diana have just let Children go? Anyway, in case anyone has not heard Fight For It:

    • Paul says:

      Thanks, Markus — and you are so right, I’d totally forgotten about “Rhythm Of The Night” — but it’s another one very similar in feel to “Touch By Touch” and shows again what a hit this song could have been.

      I am with you — if one song had to go, it would be “We Are The Children…” — no question!

  5. Antje says:

    Next to “Missing you” of course, I am an addict to “Telephone”. Singing in such a high pitch and still being able to shift accents, and add emotions – I wonder who else could have been able to do this. She is far beyond her “comfort zone”, yet there is no shrillness to her singing (just like on “Let’s go up” – on this I agree with you, Paul).
    As I admitted to like “In your arms”, you may wonder that I totally disagree on “All of you”. I think it has to do with Julio Iglesias as I disdain him. But I agree, often her duets are superb; recently I came across “I’ve got a crush on you “ with Rod Stewart – great!
    Altogether, “Swept away” is another album I hardly play – can’t wait till we get to 1995!

    An idea that had already slipped into my mind when discussing „Ross“: Admittedly I do not know anything about blogs on other singers – but is there a community that is as harsh on their favorite as we are on Diana Ross? It seems we wanted her to be perfect in the ears of MILLIONS throughout almost five decades of recording– who could have ever accomplished this? She always said she is a risk-taker. Rather than playing it safe her experiments at least added new, sometimes exciting sounds to her catalogue. Sales figures are not a measure of good music, though of course it is satisfying when both coincide. I wonder whether even we could agree on what a “perfect Diana Ross song” should be like – and on the cover as well.

    • Paul says:

      Antije — interesting thoughts. I think when an artist turns out the sheer volume of work that Diana Ross has, it certainly opens fans up to lots of discussions and debates.

      Personally, I’ve always given her credit for trying new things, and I hope that’s obvious in this little project. I like that Diana tried new things and was never afraid (as she herself has said in interviews) “to make an ass” of herself (love when she said that, by the way!). However, I try to be objective about her music and acknowledge when those new things work/don’t work. It’s never about her personally — this project is about the music only, not about her personality, fashion, album cover choices, etc.

      Miss Ross, to her credit, is pretty realistic about her successes and failures — she’s plainly said that she wasn’t happy with some things she’s done. She also is a person who seemingly doesn’t look back in regret; she does what she wants to do, then moves on. I think that allows fans some freedom to really look closely at her choices and discuss her work without having to worry about being too judgemental. We are all here because we are fans and we know what Diana Ross is capable of. At her best, there is nobody better.

      • Antje says:

        Paul, I clearly understand what your project is all about – and I love it a lot. But, as chris meklis remarks so rightly – we are a diverse bunch, just like her music. It is so easy critizing while lying back comfortably, especially when commenting in retrospective. As so many statements show, you may well change your mind on a lot of songs. Definitely it is about the music, but listening to her music is also associated with emotions and memories.This is what I was trying to point out – we should be fair.

      • Paul says:

        I think overall Ross fans are pretty fair toward her (although I don’t frequent a lot of message boards, so perhaps I’m not aware of everything going on out there). That’s why we’ve stood by her for so many decades! Sure, everyone has his or her own favorite “era” or song, but we can mostly agree when she is truly at her best — as on “Lady Sings The Blues,” “Ain’t No Mountain…,” “Missing You,” etc. It’s the lesser known aspects of her career that are more divisive, and I think more fun to look at and discuss. I hope fans aren’t “lying back” criticizing merely for the sake of being critical…I think the fact is we just enjoy talking about Diana Ross.

        What is “unfair” to me is the on-going misperception that Diana was a “limited” vocalist with little range. There are still many listeners (and VERY short-sighted writers) out there who believe that Diana Ross was essentially a Motown product with a small voice. That’s why I wanted to put my own opinion out there…even in such a small way as this blog. Listening to her work every week and thinking critically about her vocals on each song has done nothing but deepen my appreciation for her talent. I already knew what a truly great singer she was — clearly that’s why I am a fan and started writing about here — but really taking a close look at every single album track has even surprised me at the lengths she went to push herself and develop her own musical ability.

      • Tony says:

        It is about the voice Paul – you are so right. I love the focus you maintain on her voice and the quality of her singing. The later material – the 80.s material really does bring much more discussion. I will say – i do listen to the songs over again and seem to find something new in them to enjoy. Listening to fans rave about Telephone – made me give it another chance. Actually my dad – had a great saying. He would say “i don’t like him very much – I should get to know him better.” With songs I never liked much – I try a little hared to “hear” them. These discussions- help open my ears! I am still working on the Telephone song . Boy she really is in a high register!!!

      • Paul says:

        Tony,
        The discussions open my ears, too! It’s been interesting making myself listen over and over to some of the songs of Miss Ross’s that I really don’t like for the purpose of writing about them…in some cases, my opinion has changed totally. The song “To Love Again” is a perfect example — I never “got” that song until I listened to it repeatedly to write about “Ross” — it’s now one of my favorite of her ballads!

    • markus says:

      @Antje- believe it or not, i think some fan communities are actually MORE harsh on their artists. The Madonna folks, for instance…those fans are ruthless!

      • Paul says:

        Markus — I’d say the same thing about Mariah Carey fans — who can be SAVAGE when it comes to her musical choices!!!!

    • Tony says:

      I’m with you! I can’t wait till we hit 1995 as well. Lover her return home to Motown (for the most part). I rarely play the RCA material.

      • Paul says:

        We may hit 1995 sooner than you all think…today the “Take Me Higher” CD got stuck in my car CD player! It won’t eject!!! Maybe my car is trying to send me a message 🙂

      • Tony says:

        Ya — like its probably her best album to date !!!!

  6. chris meklis says:

    This album is like a child to me-
    it’s the first album ever that I bought (age 10) and most definitely held within my top five of Miss Ross’s collections, though I may not play it that often…
    In addition I feel it is the best or at least 2nd best (Eaten Alive competing for best) of her RCA albums as far as sounding like a complete product.

    Up until this point I felt her RCA albums missing something, especially the Ross album of the previous year- it was not as eclectic as this, but this album feels far more like a complete product (save for Fight For It), and I also think that in comparison to her first very eclectic album Silk Electric, this album’s eclecticism actually seems to come together more easily.

    Though I appreciate Ross more now- in comparison to Swept Away it comes off boring and dull at times…
    This collection sees her stretching again and trying new things, and achieving superior production results with them than on Silk Electric.

    Someone earlier mentioned the Tina Turner style wig on the cover lol….
    I think we should take it for what it was- FUN and very fitting, firstly for the times and secondly matching the hard hitting rock of the title track.
    I personally love this cover- it startles the viewer and in my opinion demands attention, almost coerces the listener to see what music is inside.

    The lame pantsuit, slick and shimmery, the purposeful look with hand on hip- Miss Ross means business and the spiked hairdo says, “yes, I too can be a rock chic, should I so desire”…I love it- though I suppose it was perhaps too much for older fans- I was young then and as I look back on it now, it reminds me of my youth.

    Missing you is Ross’s best elements of voice versus interpretation summed up. Paul, you explained this classic perfectly- what a performance and what a beautiful music video (incidentally the first video ever played on VH1 when that station began broadcasting)

    Touch by Touch is another favorite of mine. And I have always liked Rescue Me, never expecting anything more from it. I have always found it a pretty bland repetitive song and I liked the purposeful base on the track of this song. There’s nothing more one can do to make this already middling song more attractive.

    Love It’s your move- it has a nice moody quality about it and perfectly bridges the all the relatively easy songs with what’s to come- Swept Away, something that the album needs here- and boy does it pack that punch.
    Incredible layering of music here and the vocals match the cover- sizzling rock all the way. Diana Ross finally succeeded here in bringing home a very edgy rock song authentically and memorably and making it chart well almost like Mirror Mirror- though this is vastly more risky.

    There is something addictive for me about the song Telephone- you say that you can’t find more layers to her performance here, I always do- there’s a very subtle sense of urgency about the whole track and her vocal, climaxing with the little riffs she does which you mentioned.
    The production is hauntingly sparse with brilliant base from Edwards, and I feel a sexual tension here that is compelling.
    It’s pure funk and it is interesting to listen to. Again this voice seems to fit in with the look of the fierce lady on the cover and the cheekiness comes through especially when she says the word “really” (when you feel like you “really”) in preparation for the startling high riffed “need” love line….
    I have heard that she actually performed this song live at the time this album was out- would so love to see her do this number live.

    And then there’s the bizarre yet for me compelling, frantic and almost existential crisis mood of Nobody Makes Me Crazy Like You Do… she seems to be channeling a Glenn Close type stalker from Fatal Attraction lol!
    It’s again fun and she probably added this song to this collection, firstly because it was the 80’s and wanted to play with those sounds and secondly because it is precisely ‘anti-Ross’ sounding.
    I’m a stickler for synthetic sounds and interesting ‘Vangelis like’ music. The fact that she’s audacious enough to put in on an album deserves huge kudos- and she almost gets away with it too! 🙂

    All of you is a perfect pop ballad, lusciously produced and easy on the ear- and I agree- top class vocals here on her part. In fact it is the very sound of her voice on this album that I find so compelling- a different Diana Ross voice- she just seems so damn confident, it’s a joy to hear!

    Don’t like We Are The Children much, and yes, how she chose this over the superior quality of Fight For It is beyond me, but it must be said…Diana Ross has a knack of pre-empting things to come, here next year’s We Are The World.

    Forever Young is like this her ’80’s ‘Sleepin’ in content and performance. It is again an incredible emotive vocal and her live performance of this song on the Jerry Lewis telethon is beautiful.
    I was surprised in a way that you find this album uneven with so many weak points. I never saw it like that. For me it was a vast improvement on Ross 🙂

    One thing is for sure her fans are a diverse bunch- a lot like her music.

    Many Thanks Paul.

    See you next week for Eaten Alive x

    • spookyelectric says:

      Thanks again for the weekly posts Paul – it’s been great listening back through the catalogue and reading everyone’s comments. It’s thrown up a few new perspectives which has been interesting. Case in point: “Swept Away”. I’ve always thought of this as one of her stronger albums of the decade – listening again now I’ve got to be objective and say it’s probably one of her weakest!

      I never liked that first single – the Julio duet. Mainly I just think it’s a really average song and sorry to say I never had much time for Julio’s voice – especially when he sang in English. I always found it a bit comical. Diana’s ad-libs towards the end add some much needed excitement, but it’s all a bit too land of the bland for me. (Would have preferred it if Columbia had refused to license it for the album – maybe then there would have been a solo Ross version a la “Endless Love”!)

      And then the first ‘proper’ single (in the UK anyway) – “Touch By Touch”. Another weak song – the verses are ok but the chorus really doesn’t have enough lift to it. I see what they were trying to do with the ‘islands’ flavour similar to various pop-soul big hits of the day but it falls flat to me sadly. It was played loads on UK radio and did nothing chart wise. To me, this was the weakest singles’ set-up of any of Ross’ RCA album.

      But then “Swept Away”. Ridiculously this was never a single in the UK. I remember hearing it for the first time on Paul Gambaccini’s US Top 40 rundown and being thrilled. Yes, it’s very much ‘of the time’ but to me this is probably the best of all Diana’s 80s singles. From the opening spoken monologue you’re immediately drawn into the drama of the production. It’s totally excessive, totally 80s, and it totally works. The vocal interplay between Diana and Daryl Hall in the later half of the record is wild. (There’s a great 12″ Version of this track too which may press the ’80s’ button a bit too much for some listeners’ tastes – loads of cut-up vocal parts and staccato loops and loads of fun too).

      And then “Missing You”. Another landmark recording for Diana, absolutely. It really came at the right time in her career to remind audiences of the essence of classic Diana – the core of why millions fell in love with her in the first place. It’s a shame it took such a tragic event to spark it’s creation. Lionel Richie knew exactly how to frame Diana’s vocal and make the most out of it. Totally agree with you Paul, that middle-eight section where the track shifts gears is genius. What says “Ross” more that a spoken monologue? It must have been years at this point since Diana last recorded one (tell me Paul!) I read somewhere (probably a Randy Tambourine book) that Lionel was a one point in the frame for producing a whole album on Diana. If that is true it’s a real shame it never happened – everything they did together (well maybe not “Dreaming Of You”) was a masterclass in “Ross” magic.

      I saw Diana live in concert around the release of his record so it holds a special place for me because of that. My main memories are her running onto the stage in a wildly OTT sparkly outfit reflecting a million lights to “Swept Away” and a very seductive performance of “Telephone”. She would sway next to the mic, leaning backwards to emphasis the ‘lean on me’ part of the lyric. I remember being surprised when I saw the US R&B listings at the time and there was “Telephone”. It’s not a great, great Diana single in the shape of the previous two of course but it does have a great groove and her vocal is quite mesmerising.

      As a whole though I think it doesn’t really stand up to the consistency of the last album (or the next for that matter) – because the rest of the tracks don’t quite hit the mark in one way or another. All those tracks, including that b-side “Fight For It”, were Diana productions and I think the main problem is Diana really wasn’t the best person to be producing herself. I can only speculate no one could tell her that at the time though. Her vocal production always lent towards the brittle, thiner end of her register and the arrangements often were too obvious. So even on a great song like “Forever Young” it feels a little uncomfortable to listen to (her vocal here really reminds me of her self-produced solo “Endless Love”) or at its worst a bit painful (those sharp notes on “We Are The Children Of The World” – ouch!). Shame she didn’t put “Rescue Me” aside for a couple of years for the “Red Hot” album really.

      Still I think “Swept Away” was an important record for her. Unlike the last album “Ross” – this record feels very market-conscious. I don’t think they’re necessarily all her best recordings but there was something for every market on this record – AC, Dance, Pop – and of course “Telephone” was worked exclusively to R&B radio. Plus RCA put a load of marketing budget into all those videos – especially “Swept Away” which must of cost a fortune. It totally makes sense it was one of her most successful projects of the era.

      • markus says:

        enjoyed your thoughts, SpookyElectric (actually I’m enjoying everyone’s thoughts!)…but good to hear the perspective of someone from the UK. I’ve always been mystified as to why Touch By Touch was the leadoff single(!), and why Missing You didnt do well there.

      • Paul says:

        Hey Spooky — I think you nailed it saying this was a “market-conscious” album — I absolutely feel the same way. Diana was clearly trying to hit several different markets and I think she was working hard for a hit — and she got some.

        Releasing “Touch By Touch” was certainly a weird move in the UK — personally I like it and think it could have been a hit in the US, but I’d never choose it as a lead single.

        I love the 12″ “Swept Away,” too — love the looping and mixing — it’s so much fun to listen to! I imagine DJs in that era were really experimenting with new sounds and effects, and this remix certainly plays into that.

    • Paul says:

      Oh dear — Chris — I DID respond — and am only realizing now that it never posted! I thought it was weird that you hadn’t responded to my response…now I know why…loll!!!

      Anyway…jeez…now I gotta type all this again?!?!? 🙂

      I totally get an album feeling like your children. For me, “Take Me Higher” is like my baby…that album is such an important part of my life that there is no way anyone can ever tell me there’s anything wrong with it!! It’s for me a magical work, and I still go back to it often when I need some words of comfort from Diana. I was a sophomore in high school when the album came out, and it really spoke to me then; it’s also the year I first saw her in concert!

      “Swept Away” was a big part of my childhood, but it was really “Missing You” that I connected to as a little boy and that I hold dear to this day. I still believe it to be her best ballad vocal performance, and I’m glad you mentioned the video, too, as I still think it’s one of her best. Diana has a spotty record when it comes to music videos…but “Missing You” is classy and simple, perfectly matching the record.

      I’ve always loved the entire first side of the LP (tracks 1-5) — I liked “Rescue Me” much more as a kid, but I still think it’s listenable and decent, if just bland. Unlike you, I actually like the song a lot — I’ve heard some great, soulful covers over the years — but Diana’s vocal here just lacks fire to me.

      It’s the second side that has always been a little tricky for me — even as a little kid. I really like “Telephone” — I always have. I think it’s a great addition to the album and an enjoyable performance from Diana, though I do wish there was a little more variation to the vocal. This is probably just a matter of personal preference; I like songs on which Diana displays both her high notes and her rich, deeper range. Next time I listen to it, I’m going to think about how you hear new layers to her vocal — and I’m sure I’ll start to, as well!

      “All Of You” and “Forever Young” are also strong side 2 tracks…but…oh, gosh, “Nobody Makes Me Crazy…” and “We Are The Children.” I have to say, I TOTALLY agree with your apt description of Diana-goes-Fatal Attraction on the former! I, as a fan, appreciate how different it is and how downright weird the production is…but I just don’t get why Diana included it on this album. To me, it just really throws the album off-balance — I’d liken it to throwing a song like “Fool For Your Love” onto the “Baby It’s Me” album. It’s just so out-of-left-field from the classy, sexy pop/R&B that comes before it. Every time I hear it, I can’t help but get the image of Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote out of my hear — it’s just so cartoon to me!

      Personally,I think that although the highlights here (“Missing You, “Swept Away,” etc.) are so strong, the album from start to finish is not as strong as 83’s “Ross.” It’s like “Surrender” — even though not a single song on that 1971 album is as strong as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” I still think “Surrender” is a superior album to her 1970 debut when it comes to start-to-finish strength.

      As for the cover…it’s weird…but I like it 🙂 I mean, as a 5-year-old kid just getting the album, I thought it was the most awesome hair I’d ever seen…so how can I complain about it now???

      • chris meklis says:

        No Worries man! BTW- I love Take Me Higher very very much- def in my top five, so cannot wait to discuss it….but in terms of not responding to my post on Swept Away….If you’re not gonna love me right…..;-) lol x

  7. markus says:

    Sidenote- I just learned that actor Robby Benson wrote Nobody Makes Me Crazy???
    (who knew…lol)

    I’m really looking forward to the Eaten Alive review next week.

    I was listening to it on the way to work this morning…i have a feeling that’s going to be a lively discussion!

    • chris meklis says:

      Markus I have always been baffled as to why Britain (Ross’s most loyal chart audience) didn’t get the whole Swept Away (or Baby It’s Me for that matter!) album…it’s mystifying there’s no denying 😉
      This is the audience that made ‘Ndoobe Ndoobe’ a very sizable hit after all lol

      • markus says:

        @Chris- LOL at your ‘Ndoobe Ndoobe’ observation! More often than not they were spot on in recognizing great songs that the US market overlooked (“I’m Still Waiting”, “All of My Life”, “My Old Piano” up to this point). Of course, “Work That Body”was also a Top 10 hit there… 😉

        PS- nice “Top of the World” lyric reference in there. 🙂

    • Paul says:

      Markus — I’m scared for my life over “Eaten Alive” 🙂 Actually, it’s another case of my opinion softening now that I’m really analyzing each song closely as I write about them. It’s a challenging album for me in terms of the vocals…but some of the songs really are quite remarkable!

      • markus says:

        @Paul- LOL! i’m sure you will be as fair and balanced as always. I dont want to jump ahead, of course, but as I was listening I kept thinking about the “crispness” of Diana’s vocal (or lack thereof) that you noted on the Why Do Fools Fall in Love and Silk Electric albums. Unfortunately there’s more of that to come, but I still think overall it’s a great album.
        Ok, no more Eaten Alive talk from me until next week… 😉

      • markus says:

        PS- if the phrasing/enunciation/style of Diana’s vocals are perplexing, I think giving a listen to Barry Gibb’s demos for the songs (many of them are on youtube) may shed some light on that. They were a revelation for me in understanding the album…

  8. chris meklis says:

    I’m feeling extremely left out Paul!!! You have responded personally to every post on this album except for mine…

  9. Billy says:

    I find all of the comments about “Swept Away” being to the point. I would just like to add that I feel it is her most “1980s-sounding” record. It betrays the era out of which it came out, which could be considered a disadvantage for some, or nostalgic for others. While “All of You” is very melodic and I definitely enjoy it, it also sounds somehow corny, while the video is the epitome of 1980s aesthetics! Finally, I love “Telephone” with a passion, as well as the almost spiritual delivery on “Forever Young.” Needless to say that “Missing You” may very well be my favorite Diana Ross song ever.

    • chris meklis says:

      At Billy Funny enough- All of you both production, lyrics and definitely video, are very slick and almost like a parody rather than being a serious love song. But I like nonetheless

    • Paul says:

      Oh Lord that “All Of You” video…maybe when I’m done with her albums we’ll have to go through and discuss all of her videos. To say it’s the epitome of 1980s aesthetics is putting it nicely!! I’d say watching it is more like 1984 exploded all over the television screen…

  10. spookyelectric says:

    Congrats Paul – the blog seems to be getting more and more popular as each week passes – every time I check back there are loads more comments.

    Just wanted to pick up the conversation on the comparative lack of success of this album in the UK. On the face of it it does seem odd – especially as Diana would often sell out night after night at arenas across the country at this time. But I think her sales had been drained from her new RCA releases by a run of Greatest Hits packages that were promoted at the time – and there were one or two almost every year in the early 80s, sometimes heavily TV-advertised. So I think maybe the ‘new’ spikey haired punky Diana was competing with classic Motown diva Diana – and guess who won.

    That added to the fact RCA UK messed up the singles releases on this album. ‘All Of Me’ and ‘Touch By Touch’ I remember getting a fair bit of radio but neither hit Top 40, they passed on ‘Swept Away’ completely and by the time they got round to releasing ‘Missing You’ (several months after the US release) the momentum had just gone. It got very little radio and don’t think Diana ever promoted it in the UK at the time… so ‘Swept Away’ tanked. (But to be fair RCA UK more than made up for their promotion mistakes on the next album).

    On a ‘Missing You’ tip I discovered this recently – I didn’t know it existed – check the chemistry between Diana and Smokey – guaranteed to make you smile

  11. Lawrence says:

    Am looking forward to the “Take Me Higher” blog! It’s also the first time I saw her live (now I am up to 5 concerts?) and met her in person – and as we talked, she said I was cute, asked me if she could kiss me and did! I almost fainted with joy 🙂

    For “Swept Away”, I confess I rarely listen to the whole album these days. Still, I love the title track (and video), “All of You”, and “Rescue Me”. “Missing You” is probably the finest moment she had in the entire decade. Why she didn’t get a Grammy Award for this performance is beyond me. I agree with you that it’s very 1980s – but the willingness for Diana to experiment in styles on each album is still quite impressive.

    Best, Lawrence

  12. spookyelectric says:

    Got to say again Paul, it’s always great when your reviews shine a new light on something you’ve heard many many times and help you hear it in a whole new way.

    Case in point: ‘It’s Your Move’.

    I was thought of it as a nice little filler because the hook is kind of weak, but you’re so right about the Supreme-esque verses and vintage BVs. Great. There’s something so classically Brill Building when she sings “when I think you’re getting hot… you’re not”.

    Plus I’d forgotten this song was co-written by Steve Kipner – who at the time was mega in demand after ONJ’s ‘Physical’ had been so massive. RCA really pulled in some big guns on this album – Lionel Richie, Daryl Hall, Arthur Baker, Jeff Beck, Bernard Edward and on and on. They must have clocked up tens of millions of sales between them. You certainly can’t accuse the label of not investing in Diana in this period!

  13. david h says:

    lol, i guess i am the only one who likes NOBODY DRIVES ME CRAZY LIKE YOU DO. love it.the rest i agree on,thanks

  14. Mike says:

    I’m the odd one out here: Have always liked We Are The Children, have never cared for Missing You. The former rocks; the latter never gets going–I’ve often thought its hit status derived from Lionel’s considerable pull at the time and from the “stunt” element: had it not been so loudly proclaimed as being about Marvin, would it have received so much attention? All of You is voluptuous. Diana always responds to the challenge of a duet (cf: Crush w Rod Stewart), and her incredible, clarion, higher register takes on an even more exultant quality.

    • Paul says:

      Can’t belive you don’t care for “Missing You” — since it’s one of my top 3 Diana songs/performances ever!! But that’s what’s amazing about her discography — there is so much to choose from that just about everyone has his or her own favorite!

  15. bokiluis says:

    As time has passed, I have gone back and forth trying to decide which was my favorite RCA album. I stand two decades passed its release and now can comfortably declare “Swept Away” as indeed the winner. I sense Diana’s focus and determination with this album as producer/performer. It can be argued that because of the huge amount of responsibilities she had assumed once leaving Motown, taking full control of her career at RCA, the first 3 albums suffered and gained from these massive career changes. In my opinion, both “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” and “Silk Electric” glided on the fumes from 1980’s “diana” global dominance. Billboard stated that “diana” went onto sell 10 mil copies and gave her fuel for several more years. Those first two RCA/EMI UK album(s), fed off their predecessors to gold/platinum sales across international territories. “Ross ’83” became a component in the grand marketing design, rather than the catalyst. Of all the 80s era releases, “Ross ’83” is one we know the least about. Rumours abounded that it was the RCA A&R forces that coupled her with Gary Katz. While others speculated it was Diana’s relationship with Gene Simmons that introduced her to the New York recording session players, of which, Gary Katz was already entrenched. The huge undertaking of a Central Park concert caused even more of a sense that Diana had far too much on her plate.
    So the “Swept Away” project had one specific goal…….more hits! For the singles, she turned to top line producers like Richard Perry (“All of You”), Daryl Hall/Arthur Baker (“Swept Away”) and Bernard Edwards (“Telephone”). She had gathered a nice collection of songs to round out the album, that she would self produce. This would really be the key to “Swept Away” going from a “good” album to a “strong album”. The 4 aforementioned singles would chart no lower than T20 on the Hot 100 while dominating specific genre charts:
    “All of You” w/Julio Iglesias peaks #2 Adult Contemporary/#19 Hot 100/Top 10 International
    “Swept Away” peaks #1 Dance/#19 Hot 100
    “Missing You” peaks #1 R&B/Top 10 Hot 100
    “Telephone” peaks #13 R&B
    Considering the “no-brainer” global success of “All of You”, legend states that RCA negotiated to include that duet, effectively removing a B-side, “Fight for It” that would have taken “Swept Away” a notch or two higher critically and commercially. If Diana did take her eye off the target momentarily, it would have been giving “We Are the Children of the World”, a Ross-co-penned track, an album slot…that rightfully belonged to “Fight for It”. (Hall & Oates previously used a sizable sample from The Supremes hits for “I Can’t Go For That” and “Maneater”. With “Fight for It”, Diana co-penned possibly the best song she has written to date, using similar bass lines that Hall & Oates utilized). “Touch by Touch” had an infectious island feel to it. Though she performed it on the American Music Awards, EMI UK went with “Touch by Touch” as the next international single to great results. “Touch by Touch” hit the Top 10 across several European markets. EMI UK could have licensed her AMA performance as their music video. It also became a regular concert staple from that era. Diana, like most of us, had a fondness for covering songs from her formative years. “Rescue Me” by Fontella Bass was given an 80s new wave/soul pop twist that made it her best nostalgic cover to date. Robbie Benson contributed the new wave/pop song, “Nobody Makes You Crazy Like You Do” that best captured the spiked new wave hair cut she sported on the cover. “It’s Your Move” also demonstrated Diana’s astute growth in finding material that worked for her. Her cover of Dylan’s “Forever Young”, though a tad bland, gave the album cred.
    The “Swept Away” album gave Diana good, if not great, MTV play. The title track got respectable exposure on MTV, VH1 and BET. Diana’s strong relationship with Dick Clark Prod. afforded the “Missing You” video exposure to over 20-22 mil viewers of the AMAs that augmented the strong VH1 play (“Missing You” was the very first video the channel ever played) and top notch BET play insuring Diana her next #1 single!. The Jerry Lewis Marathon aired a special performance of “Forever Young” that was culled for additional VH1 play. Entertainment Tonight (ET) created and aired their own video for “We Are the Children of the World”, etc.
    I was not crazy about the album art, inspired by the “diana” album 4-5 years early. The spiked hair look had already been co-opt by RCA labelmate, Nona Hendryx and even more on Tina Turner’s groundbreaking “Private Dancer” album. Problem was, Diana was following a trend, when she was known for creating a trend.
    Despite this misstep, “Swept Away” endures. It is her most consistent of all her 80s releases. It underscored Diana’s growing abilities as a Producer and/or Executive Producer. Both “Eaten Alive” and “Red Hot Rhythm and Blues” were solid follow-ups…..but, both were poorly titled and misdirected on some level. In an era where we can create our own “playlist”, I have made my own “Swept Away: Special Edition”, eliminating “We Are the Children of the World” for the much stronger “Fight for It”!

  16. Luke says:

    “”Fight For It” was the b-side to the “Swept Away” single, but never appeared on an album. A slow-burning, funky rocker, it may be the best song Diana co-wrote in the 80s (she apparently produced it, too), and would have really elevated the quality of the second half of this LP. What was she thinking?”
    Well, you are in my mind! I listened to “Fight for it” a couple of years ago on youtube and i couldn’t believe my ears! She did chose “We are the children of the world” instead of this? Why? As far as the rest of the album is concerned, I think it was just a good album, nothing more, nothing less. I like “Telephone” more than “Touch by touch” and I prefer the remixed club version of “Swept away” than the album’s version. The video is a classic, Diana had never been sexier on a video before or after that. “Missing you was a masterpiece but after hearing it a thousand times during all these years, I tend to get bored with that.

    • Luis Boki says:

      It is fascinating how just the inclusion of one track, “Fight for It”, in exchange of the deletion of another, “We Are the Children of The World” could really make the difference, at least to my ears and I am convinced to other fans and consumers, of the quality of the “Swept Away” album. That album had several interesting stats like “All of You” being a #1 smash in Julio Iglesias’ native country, Spain (allowing for Diana to become even more popular there), #3 in Italy and #4 in Norway, along with “Touch by Touch” being a hit in several European countries as well. (On a side note, I wonder why she never used the American Music Awards performance of “Touch by Touch” as the music video because as far as I know it, that single was marketed without the benefit of a music video). As far as the tremendous amount of play on “Missing You”, at least in the states, it was a pivotal release that took the album to platinum status. “Missing You” reawakened American audiences to the “Swept Away” album and gave her the biggest R&B single since “Upside Down”. So I can never begrudge its exposure. That night, when she used her clout to get the video played on the American Music Awards, the album was completely rejuvenated.

  17. Luis Boki says:

    Paul, Let me once again thank you for your wonderful, in depth analysis of Diana’s body of work. I think a lot of the naysayers think that Diana Ross fans are two-deminsional, more interested in her glamour than her musical integrity. While I simply love Diana’s glamour and style she is so associated with (another reason “The Wiz” was baffling, how do you do a Diana Ross movie with a fashion show scene and Diana isn’t in the fashion show?), I am very enamored with Diana Ross, the artist. So as time has passed by, I feel that ” Swept Away”, to me, is both her best RCA era and 80s Album! It is possible we don’t give her enough credit for her most consistent producing endeavor. She wisely commissioned top notch producers for the singles from Richard Perry to Daryl Hall to Lionel Richie/James Carmichael to Bernard Edwards. But lying subtly under the hit singles are album tracks like “Touch by Touch” (a hit single in several European territories), “Rescue Me” (I like the “new wave” production lilt on this cover from Diana’s formative years. I think it gives the track an updated 80s feel), “It’s Your Move” just a good, solid album track, “Nobody Drives Me Crazy Like You Do” is again to be another befitting 80s sounding new wave pop song written by my old heartthrob, Robbie Benson, also reflecting the horrible 80s cover art. Diana does a much better job in producing “Swept Away” than on either “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” or “Silk Electric”. In reflection, “Swept Away” is my favorite RCA era album that Diana should be proud of her producing skills. Though RCA, for whatever reason has not seen fit to certify it platinum, I have seen net sales figures of 1.3 million albums in the states. That gives her 3 gold/platinum RCA era albums out of 6, which is certainly nothing to apologize for.
    (Finally, I do take exception to the statement that “Smile” and “Kiss Me Now” are both solid additions to “The Black Abum-Diana Ross ’76”. In fact, listen to Michael Jackson’s cover of “Smile” on “HIStory” to see how he was inspired by Diana’s version. “Kiss Me Now” had that fun, vaudeville feel that could have been in a Broadway show…like her Tony-winning, “An Evening with…..”.

    • Paul says:

      Swept Away will always hold a special place in my heart — I believe it features her greatest-ever ballad performance (“Missing You”) and some real highlight from her recording career. That said, I think the low points are so low that they end up making the album a little too inconsistent. As you said in another post — IF ONLY “Fight For It” had been featured instead of one of the weaker links. Still — Swept Away is an album for which Miss Ross should be extremely proud — and as you said, as much as people like to downplay her RCA career, she produced some very strong and successful work that is, in many cases, just as good as her Motown recordings.

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  19. topher says:

    I have strong memories of 84 . I remember we were full of MTV kind of music all the time and even if we didn’t like this type of music, we were influenced by the sound.
    And Diana’s self productions were lackluster . So we had her own production and the rest , the rest being more contemporary.

    Another thing is that she couldn’t duplicate the sound of those records live. Wether it’s “sweept away” or “telephone” , her voice is not the same . So i have the feeling her voice is accelerated or something like that , to make it higher and faster.

    Anyway, i like “sweept away” she gives a razor shape performance on this one.
    “Telephone” is hypnotic, fascinating , scaring , and a fantastic production.
    “Missing you” is a classic Ross performance and Forever young is one of my all time favorite of her. Sad but true.
    “All of you” with it’s “dynasty” kind of clip is a monument of kitch .

  20. bokiluis says:

    I actually wished that Diana would have made a 180 adaption of the elements of a record like “Swept Away”. “Swept Away”, both the song and the album, had a bit of edge to it. Diana never seem to fully embrace the transformation of new sounds, live in concert.
    Case in point, it could be argued that “Swept Away” courted a younger demo, like say the MTV generation. When she would say, “I could never go out and wear jeans and tee-shirts in my concerts”. Or something to that effect. I was always puzzled as to why she believed that to be true. Who in her audience would take issue with her doing younger oriented songs like “Upside Down”, “I’m Coming Out”, “Mirror, Mirror”, “Muscles” and/or “Swept Away” in more appropriate attire. If she was going to compete effectively during the MTV era, her transformation needed to be reflected in her music and her image. Her most celebrated album covers of that time were Douglas Kirkland’s “The Boss” and Scavullo’s “diana”, both emphasizing au natural glamour. I yearned for her to switch into a hot glamorous top with a great pair of jeans and performing that kind of material with youthful exuberance and then return to her glamorous gown collection at the closing. Just switch it up! Every now and then, she would “Have Fun (Again)” like returning for encores at Radio City in a sexy leather pants and vest. (she would later do the same at Wembley and performed “You’re Gonna Love It”……audiences loved it and responded favorably).
    I don’t know why she felt that audiences demanded that she always wear gowns. Not if you are employing the services of Daryl Hall on a pop/dance/rock song like “Swept Away”. It did not have to be one or the other.
    It would have made, to me, her most valid play to the MTV era with the “Swept Away” album. On that tour she performed “Missing You”, “Touch by Touch”, “Rescue Me”, “Swept Away” and “Telephone” at different intervals. Heck she even did a much more digestible “Fool For Your Love” in a rock/soul fashion……so she seem to teeter with the younger MTV era generation, but, was never fully committed to that transformation. And that demographic knew it. So while Tina and Cher, admittedly a little more rock ‘n roll, were accepted by the MTV generation, Diana never committed to it.
    Add “Fight for It” into the mix. I actually envisioned her taking that Motown/James Jamerson bass line that runs through “You Can’t Hurry Love” (Phil Collins had reintroduce it to the MTV generation) segue into a bit of Hall & Oates “Maneater” fused it into “Fight for It” and then bring it full circle to “Swept Away”. It would not have threaten her core audience while seamlessly educating a younger audience to how she impacted the entire rock ‘n roll era as an artist. Alas, she always seemed to “play it safe” and cater to an older, less demanding, aging casino audience……when she really didn’t need to.

    • Trox says:

      I think you’re totally right, never understood her insistence in only using gowns, it aged her before it was time to age.

  21. davidh says:

    after listening to the SWEPT AWAY cd,i have decided you r correct about NOBODY DRIVES ME CRAZY

  22. Just found this cool extended mix of ‘Telephone’… not the promo 12″ RCA issued as last single from the set (that was just the album version) but a fan-made number. Still very good…

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  26. Larry says:

    I had been a casual Diana Ross fan as a Child. However, as a teen I was captivated by this album. The songs I lived as a teenager are not the same songs I love today. It’s interesting as she was trying to appeal to teenagers and long time adult fans bi still and have always loved Swept Away and you are not han if Missing You doesn’t bring you to tears. Touch by Touch is an eternal fave from this CD

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  29. James Grattan says:

    Hey Paul!!!..Swept Away remains for me, like looking into an old photo album of favorite memories. By this time I was in real time with my Diana Ross purchases. After playing catch-up for 3 years of her new releases and the back catalogue. THIS album played in my car cassette stereo on my way to school every day for senior year. EVERY song connects to new adventures found with a fake ID and my parent’s 69 Mustang:)
    …sneaking into a club and requesting “Nobody makes me…” Seeing her live for the first time, and she sings Swept Away!!!!!!…Touch by Touch remains the single that got away…and MIssing You being the song that I knew was a classic the first time I heard it on the radio.
    The Expanded Version of Swept Away is terrific…but nothing compares to opening that fold out LP with the Silver jeans and punk hair cut for the first time….THIS is the poster I wish I had.
    This album was so important to me for the years to come. I divided it up into playlists I carry with me on the IPOD after all of this time.
    Again, its always my fantasy that she would release some of these songs in a live compilation collection. Different deep album cuts of her performing them live over the years…..well…I can dream, can’t I???
    As always Paul, I’m so grateful to have this forum to read yours and the other contributor’s thoughts.
    James

    • Paul says:

      This always has a special place for me, too, because it’s the first one of hers that I remember buying, too. To be fair, I didn’t buy it…I made my parents go buy me the cassette tape! “Missing You” was the song that really did it for me — it was a song that I instantly connected with (and I was only 5 years old!) and drove everyone around me crazy by constantly singing. I also love the cover — it’s completely insane, but a fun and modern nod to the 1980 “diana” album — like a space-age version of that famous photo. Totally agree that “Touch By Touch” should have been a hit in the US — I think it should have been released before even “Swept Away.” Although the title track was a solid hit, I think “Touch By Touch” had the potential to be a bigger radio hit and reach a broader audience.

  30. James Grattan says:

    …and can you imagine the video “Touch by Touch” could have been?? Its always amazed me that Diana Ross wasn’t a bigger player in the video market. It seems so natural that she would have been a massive hit with video production. I remember reading a quote that she didn’t like the idea of having one interpretation for her songs. But with her acting chops, and her eye for art direction, its still a mystery to me why the all of videos weren’t more successful. And I love the idea you have going through her videos next on the forum. There’s a video for “I’m Gone” that shows how incredible she can be in the medium. The scene at the end on the waterfront, with the suitcase…PERFECTION from every direction. (Alright I’m starting to rhyme, so let me sigh off 🙂
    James
    PS: Did you say you were 5 years old when Missing You came out?????? :))

  31. TouchMe says:

    After the flop of ROSS, this seems like a bit of a safe bet for hits. Having said that there are plenty of wonderful tracks on this. I pretty much agree with your review. It’s accurate and fair. Does anyone else get the vibe that “It’s Your Move” is about our queen dating a closeted gay guy? “I’m giving up on trying to sell you things that you ain’t buyinnnng!”

    • Paul says:

      TouchMe — yes, as I wrote in the review, I think it was calculated very carefully to appeal to as wide an audience as possible and keep Diana on the charts. And in that respect, it’s a successful project. It did what it needed to do…albeit in a very uneven way. I’ve never interpreted “It’s Your Move” that way…but something’s definitely going on with the guy she’s singing about!!

  32. Trox says:

    The interesting thing is that “Nobody Makes Me Crazy Like You Do”, in my opinion, is not only a brilliant track, but it’s very ahead of its time, and it’s very Madonna (before Madonna did this type of work), vocal-wise and musically. If you pay attention to Madonna’s work in the mid-00’s (especially her Confessions on a Dance Floor album), you’ll see how much this Diana’s forgotten gem is the embryo for what came later. Other track that I found very similar to Madonna’s later work is Diana’s earlier 80’s track “Friend to Friend”. You can tell she inspired Madonna a great deal.

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