“Fight For It” (1984)

“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.

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About Paul

Album-by-album, track-by-track, a look at the entire Diana Ross discography...
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13 Responses to “Fight For It” (1984)

  1. Paul says:

    Just in case you all need a refresher 🙂

  2. Shame there’s not more rare Diana b-sides around! I know there were a few in the 90s on cd singles like ‘Too Many Nights’ but – correct me if I’m wrong – I don’t think there were any before this, right? I don’t mean one-off singles like ‘Flame’ – but actually non-album b-sides?

    • Paul says:

      I agree — there are some 90s b-sides, but really nothing other than this one as far as I know. As we know, Motown tended to just throw old LP tracks on as the b-sides to Diana’s singles…even if those LP tracks came from different albums than the a-sides!!

  3. Tony says:

    Flame???? Can you explain. Is there a song entitled “flame”?

  4. Tony says:

    I agree far – Far better than ” we are the children …..”
    What’s next my friend …..

  5. bokiluis says:

    Once I hear “Fight for It”, it was immediately baffling why this was left off the album. That one song would have made the difference in a good album vs. a very good album. The album would have seemed infinitely more contemporary. Whereas “We Are the Children of the World”, like “Girls” and most of both “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” and “Silk Electric”, indicated Diana’s insecurity as her own producer, let alone a producer of her own songs. Hall & Oates took a sizable cut from classic Holland-Dozier-Holland’s Supremes songs like “My World is Empty Without You” for their “Maneater” hit, Diana takes it back with “Fight for It”. “Fight for It” would have made “Swept Away” a hot album. It is because of “Fight for It” that I have gone back and declared “Swept Away” my favorite RCA album. “Eaten Alive” comes close except that the title song and first single did not fit with the remainder of the Gibb Brothers-sound. “Red Hot Rhythm and Blues” had several sterling moments, but, like its predecessor, it was mistitled. As much as I had issues with the cover art of “Swept Away”, the inclusion of “Fight for It” would have reflected a hot soul/rock album with attitude (albeit a tad forced).
    I cannot help going back and forth referring to the album wince this song came from those sessions. Had Diana been fully present, she got that coming of of the puzzling, misunderstood direction of “Ross”, she wanted hits! So she employed, wisely so top lined producers for the singles. However, the remaining vision from Diana, for the songs she produced…..were to find really good songs, which she did.
    At least in this era of having the ability to create your own playlists, I have made my own “Swept Away: Deluxe Edition” and include the mixes and the b-sides. That now makes “Swept Away” a real winner!

  6. davidh says:

    I agree, FIGHT FOR IT, should have been on this album. WE R THE CHILDREN should have been a b side.

  7. Peppy Castro says:

    Hi All, Interesting perspectives. Since I am a writer on “Fight for it” and “We are the children of the World”. I would share with you some behind the scenes. “We are the Children” had a concept and the original demo I did was far different from what Diana did with her arrangers. I couldn’t get Diana to do what I originally envisioned for the song but PM magazine did pick up on the basics and did a half hour tv special based on the song with Diana called ” We are The children of the world. Mind you it was also the “b” side of “missing you”. Missing you was written by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson. They had this song as the B side in their hands 9 months before, ” We are the world, We are The children”. was conceived. Diana approached me to write on “Fight for it”. I met Diana through Gene Simmons. Diana was nothing but a class act and a pleasure to work with. All the best. Peppy Castro

    • Paul says:

      This is really cool to hear from you, Mr. Castro! Thanks for leaving a comment — you definitely worked with Diana Ross during an interested time in her career, and wrote two of the most discussed songs in her 80s discography! I just visited your site and it’s great to see what you’ve been up to. Would love to hear more on the backstories of these songs and your work with Diana. Happy Holidays!

    • Shaza says:

      Hello Peppy Castro! You mentioned that ‘Missing You’ was written by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson. As far as I know, Lionel Richie wrote that song alone… Was Michael really involved? It’d be great if you can clarify that part! Thanks.

  8. Pingback: Interview: Peppy Castro On Working, Writing With Diana Ross | THE DIANA ROSS PROJECT

  9. Pingback: Swept Away (1984) | THE DIANA ROSS PROJECT

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