Record Store Wednesdays: “Changes” By T-Boy Ross

T-Boy Ross Browsing through the “Diana Ross” section at Wax N Facts Records in Atlanta, I came across this promo copy of the 1979 LP Changes by Diana’s younger brother, T-Boy Ross.  He is credited with co-writing the album (his only Motown release), and the track list includes two tunes that will be instantly recognizable to fans of the singer’s big sister.

Mr. Ross (given name: Arthur) initially found success at Motown as a writer; with Leon Ware, he wrote the 1972 Michael Jackson hit “I Wanna Be Where You Are.”  Ross and Ware also composed the bulk of the material for the 1976 Marvin Gaye LP I Want You, which hit #1 on the soul chart, along with the now-classic title track.  I’ve read that Ware and Ross had a falling out around the time of I Want You, leading T-Boy to focus on his own album.

Changes opens with a cover of his own “I Want You” and closes with a song called “To The Baby” — both of which were also recorded by big sister Diana.  “To The Baby” was done by Diana in the early 1970s, and was supposed to be the title track for an album of songs dedicated to her children (that album went unreleased until 2009, when it was included on the fabulous Touch Me In The Morning Expanded Edition).  Meanwhile, Miss Ross included “I Want You” on her 2006/2007 release I Love Youdedicating it to her late brother.

Based on what I’ve heard from the album, Changes is a collection of funky tunes featuring touches of disco and modern jazz (probably thanks, in part, to collaborator and jazz legend Joe Sample).  T-Boy’s voice is remarkably dissimilar to his sister’s; he possesses a unique high and raspy tone that (when listened to today) sounds more akin to Macy Gray.  Interestingly, although the album was apparently not a huge seller in 1979, it has gained enough of a following to have been released on CD overseas.

T-Boy Ross Changes Motown

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About Paul

Album-by-album, track-by-track, a look at the entire Diana Ross discography...
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4 Responses to Record Store Wednesdays: “Changes” By T-Boy Ross

  1. T-Boy has always been somewhat mysterious…glad to have a little more clarity on what he produced in his time all I ever really knew was what we have in the Tambarelli book and the snippets I have picked up over time. Did he pass away from a drug overdose, is that the story?

    • Paul says:

      Julius — I also don’t know much about T-Boy, aside from the few newspaper articles I’ve read and some passages in books. I wish I knew more — I wonder if there was ever talk of him doing more writing/producing for his sister?

  2. spookyelectric says:

    I get the impression this got completely lost at the time and faded into obscurity… its a shame because its one of the best versions of ‘I Want You’ I’ve heard – the backing vocal arrangement is fantastic. T-Boy’s vocals like you say are kind of raspy and limited – by he definitely has commitment and intention… shame he never got to write more songs than ‘To The Baby’ for Diana… there’ actually one track on here ‘Forever Is As Long As It Lasts’ that I could imagine her covering…

    • Paul says:

      Indeed — I don’t know much about Motown’s promotion of this LP, but from what I can find, it dropped off pretty quickly. Motown’s promotional department was really slowing down on Diana during this time, too — I’ve read that she was disappointed in the label’s handling of THE BOSS, despite the fact that the LP and title track were solid dance hits — so perhaps the same thing happened to T-Boy’s album. I think Diana’s “To The Baby” is a highlight of her early/mid-70s output — it certainly is a standout on the shelved TO THE BABY album — and I wish brother and sister would have worked together more, too. He seems to have had a nice soul/funk sensibility that probably would have resulted in some interesting material for Diana.

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