I stumbled upon this promo single for “If You’re Not Gonna Love Me Right” while rummaging through album boxes at the fabulous Highland Row Antiques in Atlanta’s Virginia-Highland neighborhood. It’s a pretty bare-bones release, featuring a Radio Edit (4:10) and the instrumental (4:42) on Side A, and the LP version (4:42) on Side B. That said, I’m always happy to see anything Take Me Higher–related, as the album is one of the finest in the Diana Ross discography, and one of my personal favorites (to be honest, it might just be THE personal favorite).
It’s hard to believe it’s been a full twenty years since Take Me Higher hit store shelves; 1995 was a great year to be a Diana Ross fan, as the singer vigorously promoted her new release (the third studio album of her second stint signed to Motown). She made absolutely stellar appearances on several late shows (in particular, her stops to Late Show With David Letterman to perform the title track and “I Will Survive” were wonderful) and the singer toured extensively, performing almost the entire album in concert. I was in the audience at Deer Creek Music Center on August 30, 1995 — a month or so before the album was released — and immediately fell in love with songs like “I Never Loved A Man Before,” “Only Love Will Conquer All,” and “I Thought That We Were Still In Love.” All of them sounded like potential singles, and hits.
Although fans and (many) critics loved the album, it didn’t turn out to be the huge success it deserved to be. “If You’re Not Gonna Love Me Right” was pulled as the third and final commercial single off the album, and released to the public as a double A-side with “Voice Of The Heart” (this commercial single also includes the “Crenshaw Records Version” of “If You’re Not…,” a smooth R&B remix that’s pretty good until the ghastly digital altering of Diana’s voice toward the end!). Both songs received only minor airplay, although they did chart; the former hit #67 on Billboard’s R&B chart, and the latter topped out at #28 Adult Contemporary. Interestingly, although Miss Ross had shot music videos for the previous two singles (“Take Me Higher” and “Gone”) and would do another for “I Will Survive,” she didn’t release accompanying videos for either of these two songs. She did promote each of them on television; she sang “If You’re Not…” on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, and memorably performed “Voice” on Soul Train’s 25th Anniversary Hall Of Fame Special, during which she walked through the audience and stopped to embrace Whitney Houston.
Note: To read my in-depth thoughts on each of these songs, click HERE.
Despite the existence of this Motown promo LP, Diana reportedly felt she wasn’t getting the kind of promotional push she needed from the label; whatever the ultimate reason, it remains one of the great disappointments for fans that Take Me Higher was not a major commercial success. That said, the real success is in the music; there’s not a bad song on this album. Most impressive, more than thirty years into her career, Diana Ross was still pushing herself creatively and vocally. And twenty years later, Take Me Higher is still an impressive achievement.