A “Funny” Reissue In 2014?

Diana Ross Supremes

“Lookin’ down you’ll never see me, try the sky ’cause that’ll be me…”

Before I write anything else, I must say I have no information regarding the possibility of a Baby It’s Me Expanded Edition.  That is the number one topic that brings people to this little website, and is easily the most asked question over e-mail — my original post on the 1977 LP is far and away the most viewed on The Diana Ross Project.  I wish I had some news — if any Diana Ross album deserves the deluxe treatment, it’s this one.  It’s ripe for rediscovery, especially as more and more people finally start to realize what a singular musical talent the singer really is.

All that said, I hear from sources that 2014 will likely bring us the release of a “long-awaited cover” by Diana Ross & The Supremes on the wonderful Hip-O Select label.  Does this mean Diana Ross & The Supremes Sing And Perform Funny Girl will finally get a proper CD release for fans?

If so, this is fantastic news.  Although thus far The Diana Ross Project has solely been devoted to the solo career of Miss Ross, the 1968 Funny Girl LP was arguably the first major showcase for Diana Ross as a solo star.  There is no doubt that the goal of the album was to position Diana as an entertainment force; critics had heralded Barbra Streisand as the ultimate female entertainer in Funny Girl on Broadway, and her film adaptation was about to be released.  According to J. Randy Taraborrelli’s Diana Ross: A Biography, “Berry [Gordy] had the shrewd idea of beating the original soundtrack recording into the shops” (192).  Though it was apparently rushed, the man who wrote the music for the show, Jule Styne, was involved in the Motown recording and wrote glowing liner notes for the LP.

Diana’s vocal work on the album (which really didn’t feature very much of the Supremes as a group) is easily her best of the entire decade; on some songs, her performances rival anything she’s done in her entire career.  Producer Gil Askey is quoted by Taraborrelli as saying, “Diane was in her glory every step of the way” (192), and that’s extremely apparent in the finished product.  There’s an unparalleled joy in her vocals on songs like “I’m The Greatest Star” and “If A Girl Isn’t Pretty,” not to mention the kind of power and control one would expect from an experienced Broadway actress.  This is especially true on the magical “The Music That Makes Me Dance,” a song which finally found its way onto CD with the 2009 Supremes compilation Love Songs.  This is one of the most thrilling and romantic musical moments of Diana’s 50+ year career; listen to the way she leisurely paces the song, beginning with a warm, sultry croon and ending in a brassy belt worlds away from her early-60’s work.  This is a tour de force.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that, indeed, 2014 is the year of Funny Girl.  Although there are albums fans would probably much rather see reissued (not just Baby It’s Me…what about 1978’s Ross?), a chance to reevaluate this important moment in launching Diana Ross as a star would be a wonderful treat.

Advertisements

About Paul

Album-by-album, track-by-track, a look at the entire Diana Ross discography...
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to A “Funny” Reissue In 2014?

  1. Hey Paul.

    Pleased that the blog is up and running again – have really enjoyed your recent TV appearance write ups.

    The 78 ‘Ross’ album is actually getting released next month – a limited edition vinyl replica on CD by Culture Factory – sadly no bonus tracks as far as I’m aware. Still if its as good as all their Supremes and Diana reissues last year its worth checking out….

    http://www.culturefactoryusa.com/new-releases/view/productdetails/virtuemart_product_id/150/virtuemart_category_id/4

    • Paul says:

      Thanks! Good to hear from you again!

      I saw that Culture Factory was set to reissue “Ross” — I like that the company is giving fans an affordable way to hear the music again and preserving the original look of the LP artwork. Still, for “Ross” — I wish Hip-O would do something extra. Even if there were no additional tracks, a good, thorough essay explaining why the LP ended up being released with such a strange, eclectic lineup would be a fascinating read.

      Of course, I’ll be buying the Culture Factory release — at least to get a nice, clean version of “Where Did We Go Wrong” — finally!

      • Absolutely. It would be great to know exactly how that album ended up being half recycled material – I wonder if Motown were being cautious after the relative lack of commercial success for ‘Baby It’s Me’ and just thought the shelved ‘Ross’ tracks weren’t good enough? Then again ‘Old Flame’ wound up being a single in the early 80s which would contradict that. Probably so long ago and so many ex Motown execs involved in these decisions it would be impossible to piece it all together!

        Hope the Funny Girl album makes it onto CD soon – I shamefully have to admit I’ve never owned or even heard the full album!

  2. rodolfo ramirez mauriello says:

    you maybe expanded too, the diana and supremes discography is fantastic.

  3. Tony says:

    Paul! I couldn’t agree more with your post. I found the Funny Girl album in a used record store. I bought it for the cover . I waited a few days before I decided to listen to it , as I wasn’t that interested in hearing Diana imitate Bab’s. The day I put it on the turntable …..WOW . I was captivated with her energy , joy and silky and at times sparky voice. It was no imitation! They way she carried each melody was spell bounding !!!!! ” His is the only music that makes me dance” blew me away and I think was what solidified my complete devotion to her. I was a young boy and her voice evocted such emotion in me …..that I would be forever a fan!
    I really think it was one of her greatest vocal triumphs !!!!! (Along with Lady sings the blues).

    And yes …..can not wait for a clean , crisp….”where did we go wrong, ” one of my all time favourites. To this day it stirs such meloncoly feelings and reflective thoughts!

    • Paul says:

      I am so glad you agree Tony — what a magical album, and so overlooked! I was completely blown away when I first heard “The Music That Makes Me Dance” — to think that Diana was recording this album around the same time she was recording songs like “Love Child” and her work with the Temptations is incredible — talk about range! Diana’s voice is just stunning on this LP. She really could have done Broadway, movie musicals, etc. — there was no limit.

  4. Olivier says:

    Yes, let’s cross fingers 🙂
    Thx for your posts, Paul.
    O.

  5. Billy "Ross" says:

    Paul….your review made me go back and re-listen last night and made me realize that she is truly a ONE OF A KIND TALENT.!!!!!! A skinny Black girl from the Brewster Projects singing these tunes as if she had sang them all HER LIFE.She has been truly God Blessed and destined for heights she has attained,and,her place as the ICONIC LEGEND she WAS,IS and WILL ALWAYS BE.!!!!!!!!!!!
    I LOVE ME SOME MISS DIANA ROSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Mark Aherne says:

    Dear Paul,

    Great to hear from you as usual!

    This post is wonderful!

    YES! I also love the “Baby It’s Me” album (though the “Diana Ross” of 1976 – lately reissued by Hip-o- Select – is easily its equal – with stunning photos by Victor Skrebneski. Skrebneski also did the photos for the “Baby — ” LP! I am sure that you are aware that further photos from these 2 album sessions were included in Ross’s self-produced book “Goin’ Back”). Of course, it would be wonderful to have “Baby It’s Me” in an expanded version.

    *2 EXCELLENT PIECES OF NEWS THAT I AM DELIGHTED TO SHARE WITH YOU *

    1. The Supremes album funny girl is available in CD format from the site – ” iOffer ” – which is American I think. Prior to Christmas, I acquired a copy of it from them! I agree Ross sounds very vital and alive on it.

    2. Via *Amazon.UK ,* I have pre-ordered a copy of *”Ross” from 1978* which is shortly being reissued by the French division of Universal. It is being issued by the French in a limited vinyl-look CD! It is a good product and the jacket looks like a record. It has no frills but that is superfluous as I expect its imminent availability may excite you.

    Just before Xmas I also got –

    “The Boss”, “The Supremes sing Holland – Dozier – Holland” , & “Love Child” , in this vinyl-look/record-like jacket mode from the French divison of Universal. All this is of additional interest for you.

    I hope the above catches your attention and is the product of much work on my part.

    Wishing you the very best for 2014, continued success with your DR posts and joy in your own life.

    Mark Aherne

  7. Mark Aherne says:

    Paul,

    I stand to be corrected. Spooky Electric has it. “Ross” from 1978 is being reissued by Culture Factory (not by French Universal as I mistakenly thought).

    Apart from my other comments, you are spot on, you should do work on the Supremes discography, as over a decade they recorded prolifically, in different genres and released many records. That part of Ross’s career is a whole world and fascinating story onto its own, and if Ross had retired in 1970 and never had a solo career, Diana would have done some stupendous work.

    I like the Supremes but for me Diana’s solo work is the most interesting. Also, Diana had to leave her group – the laws of nature demanded that she go out there on her own.

    Mark Aherne

  8. I found the ‘Sing & Perform Funny Girl’ in Vinyl at a college record fair…and also initially bought it for the cover but being a devoted Barbra ‘Funny Girl’ Streisand fan. and being a little brain washed by the Taraborrelli myth of Diana in secret competition with Barbra that I had little interest in the record after an initial cursory listen. I only recently found a downloadable version and re listened to the record (also because with all the re-issues and previously un-released bonus tracks now available on CD with both early & latter Supremes out put including various versions of ‘People’) I was more than a little interested in what I heard now.

    I have to admit listening with more mature ears, and being a completely unashamed fan of the Showgirl Supremes (“Sing Rodgers & Hart”, “Live at the Talk of the Town”, “GIT on Broadway” etc…) this was music to my ears (forgive the pun). I love Miss Ross’ take on these Broadway classics, so very different from the Streisand interpretation (that still stands as the blue print). I love that Diana interprets each song so individually. I really do understand how Jule Styne could give Miss Ross such a rousing endorsement. As it is, it is that late 60s voice that makes me swoon with delight when Diana let’s rip across any number of show tune.

    If this record were to be expanded I would be more than a little intrigued in purchasing this cult release!

  9. Bill says:

    When Diana sings “I’m The Greatest Star” ….. Well, what can I say except that it’s true! She sings that song better than Anybody and it’s a joy to listen to it.
    Meanwhile, Where Did We go Wrong has always been a stunner and deserves a digital release. About time!

  10. Bill says:

    Jut downloaded the tracks from itunes today and it’s fantastic!

  11. davidh says:

    i was just going to say ,IT’S HERE, but you guys now already. wasn’t my fav years ago but now,wow, Diana vocals are great an di love the 2014 mixs. my favorite tracks is Coronet Man but It was even back then. but now the whole album pops.
    I think I heard Baby Its Me is up next.i hope

  12. Luis Boki says:

    This has always been a fun, favorite album of mine. Though I own the Broadway cast album and the movie soundtrack, its Diana Ross & The Supremes that I played incessantly. I bought a rather decent sounding CDR version years ago that translated quite well into an MP3 album. But now that I have learned that rare sheet music exists for it…….I am hoping to locate a copy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s