“I’ll let you on a secret of mine…you’re what I’m looking for…”
Swept Away — Diana Ross’s fourth studio album for RCA Records — was a return to form for the singer; after the lackluster response to 1983’s Ross (and, really, 1982’s Silk Electric, despite it’s Grammy-nominated first single, “Muscles”), the album took Diana Ross back to the top of several charts. The first single “All Of You,” a duet with Julio Iglesias, hit #2 on the Adult Contemporary charts, followed by the #1 dance title track and the #1 R&B hit “Missing You.” All three songs hit the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, making Swept Away the first Diana Ross solo album ever to contain three top 20 pop hits. This was a major achievement for Diana, who’d signed with RCA Records at the beginning of the decade looking for more creative control of her career; a hot streak like this continued to justify her decision, which many had believed would be extremely damaging to her professionally.
The 45 single for “Swept Away” contains a treat for fans, a B-side called “Fight For It” which ended up not being featured on the album — or any album thereafter. According to writer J. Randy Taraborrelli in Diana Ross: A Biography, “The third track on side two of the album was originally ‘Fight For It’ (the B-side of ‘Swept Away’). With the success of “All Of You,” RCA got clearance from CBS to include it in place of ‘Fight For It'” (515). This refers to the fact that “All Of You” had been recorded for the Iglesias album 1100 Bel Air Place; Iglesias was signed to another record label, which meant RCA needed permission to include it on Diana’s album. So — the hit made it on, “Fight For It” was dropped, and it became a little-known B-side that hasn’t yet been resurrected on any Diana Ross collections. The choice to leave off “Fight For It” is an interesting decision for two reasons; first of all, “Fight For It” was co-written by Diana Ross, and is thus one of a short list of songs the singer penned for herself. Second, it’s a really, really good song — better, in fact, than several of the songs that did make the album.
Opening with deep bass-and-drum groove reminiscent of the fantastically funky “Mirror Mirror” (from 1981’s Why Do Fools Fall In Love), “Fight For It” immediately becomes a sonic bridge between the hushed, rock-edged work of Diana’s first two RCA albums and the lean, cooler feel of her third, 1983’s Ross. At 14 seconds in, an electric guitar sounds a five-note run extremely similar to those featured on the opening of “Mirror Mirror” and on “Girls” — two songs also produced by Diana Ross — thus, it’s clearly a sound she was fond of. The electric guitars, keyboards, and programmed drums were sometimes an obstacle to overcome in Diana’s RCA work, especially on her overproduced Silk Electric LP, on which the sound was often so blurred and echoed that it was difficult to listen to. Here, with more experience as a producer, she finds exactly the right balance of production and performance. The vocal is irresistible; Miss Ross’s very first lyrics (“Take me for what you think I am…”) are sung in a breathy, seductive manner that further gives the song a modern, almost other-worldly feel. She remains rather low-key in terms of delivery — even in her ad-libbing at the end of the song, though she does display a little more power there — and she comes off as sexy and mature in the process. The chorus is brilliantly simple and catchy; the repetition of “Fight for it…you gotta fight for it…” is sung by Diana and a chorus of soulful background voices with a restrained, wise intensity that nicely underplays the emotion of the lyrics. Those lyrics, meanwhile, are among the best ever penned by Diana; several of her compositions tended to be too abstract or general, but the starkness of the words here (“If you want this love tonight…you gotta Fight For It…”) is perfect. The only flaw here is a slighty-too-long instrumental break, but even that is, at least, well-performed.
Because “Swept Away” sold well, plenty of people heard “Fight For It.” Today, however, it is sadly unavailable to anyone without a record player and the old 45 single. Again, there’s no telling why Diana (as executive producer of the album) chose to leave the song off — it is a far, far better recording than her other production, “We Are The Children Of The World” (which surely ranks as one of the worst Diana Ross recordings ever) as well as some of the other more dull inclusions. As successful as Swept Away was commercially, it is an uneven album when listened to today. “Fight For It” would have been a wise choice to leave on — it’s certainly proof of Diana’s talent both in front of the mic and behind the scenes. It’s a song of which she should be proud, and hopefully someday, on some reissue, it’ll be plucked from obscurity and a wider audience will appreciate it.