“Baby I’ll Come” (Released 2008)

“Don’t let your pride hold you back…that’s a silly way to act…”

Diana Ross’s 1971 album Surrender remains the best of her early solo work, and is still one of the strongest albums of her entire career — probably in the top 2 or 3.  In terms of vocal performance, Diana Ross never sounded better than she did on Surrender’s eleven tracks, each produced by the brilliant Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson; her work during the final minute of “I Can’t Give Back The Love I Feel For You” is some of the most impressive and powerful singing she’s ever released, and “Reach Out I’ll Be There” is nearly as good as her masterpiece “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” — which is saying a lot.  Though it wasn’t the huge hit it should have been, it did produce three top 40 singles and is considered by many to be the most soulful work Diana Ross recorded.  In truth, it’s also one of the best early 70s Motown albums, easily ranking with the work being turned out by Marvin Gaye and The Temptations at the time.

In 2008, on the heels of the masterful reissue of Everything Is Everything, Hip-O Select released an expanded edition of Surrender, adding several alternate versions to the existing lineup (not to mention also tacking on the UK #1 “I’m Still Waiting” and an alternate mix of “Ain’t No Mountain…”).  Most exciting of all was the release of the song “Baby I’ll Come,” apparently the only song from the Surrender recording sessions which didn’t make the final cut.  The song was also written and produced by Ashford and Simpson, and in the liner notes to the reissue, Simpson doesn’t offer any reason for the song’s exclusion from the original lineup except to say, “It’s a strange song, not really commercial, and something we wrote early, early on in our career, not for the Surrender project” (the liner notes also mention it was first recorded by singer Mary Love in 1967).  So, of course, the question is — does “Baby I’ll Come” match the quality of the eleven songs that did make the album?

Incredibly, yes.

Opening with a striking, staccato piano line unlike anything else on the Surrender album, “Baby I’ll Come” soon erupts into the kind of sizzling, soulful groove that Ashford and Simpson became known for with songs like “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing” for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.  In fact, the driving percussion here is extremely similar to that song’s, though the melody line on this tune is more challenging and abstract.  Diana’s performance here is as vibrant and soulful as on songs like “And If You See Him” from the original LP; listen to her voice build through the first minute of running time, from the deep, breathy delivery of the initial words through the soaring “I’ll come!” refrain.  This is the kind of singing that only Ashford and Simpson seemed capable of drawing from her in those early days; her “…baby, BABY, I’ll come!” at 1:18 displays the kind of abandon that she would rarely show in the next few years, once she was into her more sophisticated, muted work.  She is especially strong starting at 1:50, with, “I’ll love you more for saying you’re wrong…” and continuing through the end of the song; there’s a real power and elasticity to her voice that would surprise many who don’t consider Diana Ross a “real” soul singer.  She was — and is — and it was never more evident than on her work with Ashford and Simpson.  While Simpson says the song isn’t “commercial,” there is something about it that sounds modern today; the muscular piano line that drives much of the tune and the complexity of the melody give it a timeless feel, and it’s not hard to imagine someone like Alicia Keys covering it.  That is, of course, true of much of the Surrender album; the performances of everyone involved are so good that they just don’t date the way other material from the early 70s does.

Though leaving the song off of Surrender‘s final lineup obviously doesn’t hurt the LP, the addition of “Baby I’ll Come” wouldn’t have hurt it, either; it probably could have worked well between the tenth and eleventh tracks, serving as a bridge between the soulful, peppy “I’m A Winner” and the darker, more intricate “All The Befores.”  In any case, it’s a thrill to hear today; it’s further proof that Ashford and Simpson were the perfect teammates for Diana Ross, pushing her to push herself in the studio and allowing her to feel confident enough in her voice to really show off and explore the top and bottom ends of her range.  “Baby I’ll Come” is a welcome addition to what is already one of the absolute shining moments of Diana Ross’s long, storied career.

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About Paul

Album-by-album, track-by-track, a look at the entire Diana Ross discography...
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11 Responses to “Baby I’ll Come” (Released 2008)

  1. spookyelectric says:

    I absolutely agree Paul – there was a place Ashford & Simpson took Diana that no one else could. ‘Surrender’ as a whole work probably has the edge over her debut, just. There really isn’t a false move on the entire album.

    I was thrilled when ‘Baby I’ll Come’ finally saw the light of day – any Nick-Val-Diana collaboration is going to worth the wait. Somehow it’s not quite of the same quality as the rest of the tracks and I can see why it was left off. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great – but not as great. Lyrically it’s not as developed or involving as the other tunes – Nick and Val were so brilliant as creating mini-soap operas for Diana in a 4 minute pop symphony.

    I forgot they originally recorded the tune with Mary Love. I just looked it up now – it’s quite lovely, different arrangement from the Diana version and very soulful.

    • Paul says:

      It’s funny — when I first got the SURRENDER reissue, I wasn’t crazy about “Baby I’ll Come” — I liked it, but I didn’t think it was quite up to par with the rest of the LP. However, over time, it’s really, really grown on me. There is something about that piano line and Diana’s yearning vocal that have gotten under my skin. Though I don’t think it hurts the album that the song was left off — I do wish it had been there. I like Mary Love’s version, too — I’m really not too familiar with her output, but she’s got a lovely voice that works well on this cut for sure.

      • spookyelectric says:

        It’s definitely a grower, you’re right. I know nothing about Mary Rose either but think I should investigate after finding this. Then again, you can’t really go wrong with an Ashford & Simpson tune!

  2. Spring says:

    Dear Paul and all people around the world! Today brought us the amazing news!
    There are 10 Diana’s SHM CDs will be released in Japan on 28 of November, 2012: “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Everything Is Everything,” “Surrender,” “Touch Me In The Morning,” “Last Time I Saw Him,” “Diana Ross,” “Baby It’s Me,” “Ross,” “The Boss,” and “Diana.” I much impressed by the fact that in addition to rarity “Baby It’s Me” coming out on CD for the last time in 1994, for the first time ever they are release on CD the original album “Ross’78”!! It’s so so great!!!! My dream came true!!

    You all can to preorder your CDs from good Japanese International music store here: http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/list_from_code_banner.html?key=101440

  3. Spring says:

    Paul I’m so happy about that! I’m so excited just thinking about it. Incidentally “Last Time I So Him” also will be released on CD for the first time in Japan 🙂 Dear fans!! It’s our time for joy!

  4. The thing that I find interesting about these re-issues has been for someone like me that only knows some of these records via the Hip-O-Select releases it has been challenging to learn these LPs without the unreleased & alternate getting in the way of experiencing the original Album as released.

    I have since remedied this by creating separate playlists for each of the Expanded Editions that I own so that I can hear the initial release without extras (I don’t even want to go into how long it took me to come up with this solution :-P).

    The only real extra discs that I have enjoyed listening to are those that are not filled with alternates, but truly unreleased tracks. These are the second disc to ‘The Supremes 25th Anniversary’ & the second disc for ‘diana’ Deluxe Edition. These are structured to sound like lost albums (even if a little disjointed by the very nature of what is contained within) rather than a couple of unreleased tracks amongst multiple Alternate Takes.

    I have also then taken many of the unreleased tracks & created playlists for both The Supremes & Diana Ross so that I can listen to these lost recordings in peace (and appreciation) without the jarring experience of well known tracks/hits that have been vaulted for a reason.

    So ‘Baby I’ll Come’ as previously mentioned is a grower, it doesn’t initially jump out at you, and this is my point when lost amongst the alternate’s you can’t appreciate this fine recording. One that captures a joyous yearning performance from our Miss Ross at such a specific point of her recording life.

    Now when ‘Baby I’ll Come’ is preceded by ‘Something’ and followed by ‘Touch Me In The Morning’ (Alternate vocal, yes okay, an exception to the rule only because of the history of this recording and the fact that there is something so raw about this without Diana’s over dubs & post production, so in my head fits the bill/playlist :-P) you get a real sense of how good many of these tracks are excised of their context.

  5. SpringAffair says:

    PAUL OMG!! You’re a legend!!! 🙂
    Im so pleased you reviewed this song! I thought I was the only one who really loved it!!

    Its a shame this wasnt on the original release, and it could have replaced “Didnt You Know Youd have to Cry Sometime”. Im not keen on that song..
    Diana sounds great, but at times a bit like she’s trying too hard.

    Anyway, back to Baby Ill Come,
    its a marvellous track, with a heartfelt passion.. Dianas smokey low voice with the higher dynamic ending makes for great listening.

    SpringAffair (a.k.a George)

    🙂

  6. Pingback: Surrender (1971) | THE DIANA ROSS PROJECT

  7. david h says:

    there were times when I think Motown dropped the ball and this album is one of those albums. they really could have milked this one ,imo..
    great album

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