Were You The One? The Top 5 Hits That Got Away

DianaBackground

I knew when you walked into the room, you were the one…

It stands to reason that a career as long and active as that of Diana Ross would be peppered with “should have been” hits — cases of superlative recordings that were somehow overlooked by record executives and perhaps the singer herself.  It’s hard to argue with many of the decisions made in Diana’s career — after all, she’s one of the most successful vocalists in history, and her voice has led a whopping 18 singles to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 (and, to be technical about the matter, she graced two other #1 hits, “We Are The World” and “Mo Money Mo Problems,” for a grand total of 20!).  Still, hindsight is 20/20, and it’s hard for fans to listen to some of the hidden gems of the Diana Ross discography and not wonder “what if?”

Sure, songs like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Touch Me In The Morning” sound like surefire hits; there’s a magic to these recordings and it’s clear that they were destined to become classics.  But what about songs like “You Were The One” (from 1978’s Ross) or “All Night Lover” (from 1977’s Baby It’s Me) — don’t these also possess the qualities that could have led them to become great successes?  It’s hard to say why certain songs are chosen for single release and others are relegated to “filler” status — but it’s sometimes the case in the Diana Ross discography that overlooked album tracks sparkle with a fire and energy that seem tailor-made for radio airplay.

It’s well-documented that Diana’s second stint with Motown (encompassing studio albums from 1989 to 1999) was marred by messy promotional campaigns; the label seemed completely confused by albums like 1999’s Every Day Is A New Day, for example, not even attempting to garner any radio play and letting Diana’s television movie Double Platinum serve as the sole promotional tool.  There were many missed opportunities in these years, but there were just as many earlier in the singer’s career.  Here, then, is a look back at some of my personal choices for the “should have beens” — non-singles that are as good as anything that reached #1, and seem like they could have easily added to singers tally of hits.

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5. All Night Lover (From Baby It’s Me)

BabyMe

To be honest, there are several songs from this 1977 Richard Perry-produced masterpiece that should have or could have been hit singles; this is easily one of Diana’s strongest collections of material, and each track is perfectly suited for her warm vocal performances.  Lead single “Gettin’ Ready For Love” is a gorgeous song, a joyful, jazz-inflected tune that perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the album.  However, there’s a sparkle to “All Night Lover” that is irresistible, a shimmering and timeless sophistication. Had this song been released to radio in advance of the album, I think it would have caught on quickly; as I wrote in my original review of the album, the bouncy beat is incredibly catchy, and Diana’s vocal is masterful – she throws in some nods to her past hits (like her opening cooing, straight out of “Baby Love”) while still sounding like a seasoned, mature songstress.  If there’d been an immediate hit to herald the release of this album, it surely would have become the smash success it deserved to be, and “All Night Lover” sure seems like a song that could have done it.

4. It’s Hard For Me To Say (from Red Hot Rhythm & Blues)

Diana Ross Red Hot Rhythm And Blues

Why this song wasn’t pulled as a single from Diana’s 1987 album Red Hot Rhythm & Blues is a complete mystery, given that it’s a gorgeous ballad written and produced by a man who was enjoying tremendous success on the R&B at the time — Luther Vandross.  Vandross reportedly worshipped Miss Ross and had hoped to produce a full-length LP on her (if only!); he at least got the chance to do this song, which turned out to be one of the highlights not only of the album, but of the singer’s entire RCA output.  This passionate, soulful ballad features a trademark crystal-clear vocal by Diana, who sounds assured throughout; her voice also blends beautifully with Vandross’s backgrounds on the chorus.  Had it been released, it could have topped the R&B chart — it’s that good — and was certainly a far better choice to go to radio than the significantly weaker “Tell Me Again.”  At least Diana seems to recognize the power of this song; she resurrected it in her live shows years later, after Mr. Vandross passed away, and even performed it on her final appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

3.  Be A Lion (from The Wiz)

wix

This is one of the great hidden treasures of Diana Ross’s discography and easily one of her best ballad performances of all time; anyone who doesn’t believe that Diana Ross has strong “pipes” or can belt out a song would surely change his or her tune after hearing her work here.  Though “Ease On Down The Road” was the first chosen single from The Wiz soundtrack and the ballad “Home” is the one Diana most often performed in concert, “Be A Lion” is her clear standout on the double-LP, a powerhouse of a performance that is ripe for rediscovery.  Miss Ross shifts from a smooth, velvety performance at the beginning of the song to a soaring and rich delivery that rivals the most seasoned of Broadway performers; the second half of the song includes possibly the best singing of her entire career.  Considering the movie underperformed with both critics and audiences, MCA Records probably didn’t try too hard with this soundtrack; it did release a second single, “You Can’t Win” performed by Michael Jackson, but that one barely hit the Billboard Hot 100.  Had the movie been a massive hit, there probably would have been more singles from this soundtrack; certainly “Home” would have been released had there been more interest in the film.  But “Be A Lion” is the track that deserves recognition; it’s as good as any other ballad that topped the R&B charts during the decade.

2.  Change Of Heart (from The Force Behind The Power)

Force Behind The Power Diana Ross

And now we get to the really painful ones.  Why, oh why was this not the lead single from 1991’s The Force Behind The Power?  According to J. Randy Taraborrelli’s Diana Ross: A Biography, “Change Of Heart” was supposed to be the first release from the album, but Motown had its own “change of heart” and decided to focus on other songs instead.  In retrospect, this was a big mistake; the song is clear winner, an upbeat pop song that could have put Diana Ross back on top.  Written by the team behind Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” the song is a swinging mid-tempo number with a classy instrumental and catchy lyric.  Diana never sounded better than she does on this song; she’s in total command of the song, displaying great range and nailing some awesome high notes at the end that are reminiscent of her work on 1968’s “Love Child.”  She sounded great doing the song live — there’s a video floating around YouTube of the singer performing this song in Japan, and it’s outstanding — and it’s a track that could have done well on multiple formats (including pop, R&B, and adult contemporary).  The Force Behind The Power should have been a “comeback” album for Diana Ross; it’s a solid, classy work that deserved not only success but awards consideration.  Whatever shot the album had at bringing Ross back to the forefront of popular music, Motown blew it by not focusing attention on this standout song.

1.  You Were The One (from Ross

Ross

On the heels of the commercial success of Diana Ross (1976), a special Tony Award for An Evening With Diana Ross, and the release of her pop masterwork Baby It’s Me (1977), Motown made an incredibly odd decision in putting together 1978’s Ross, an album containing both new recordings and older ones (some of which were previously released) and which didn’t seem to have any real concept behind it.  Although there are some very strong songs on the album, only one single was pulled from it, the Hal Davis-produced “What You Gave Me” — the song flopped, charting solely in the lower reaches of the R&B listings (which is, frankly, not a surprise — the song just isn’t very good).  Other new songs, like “To Love Again” and “Never Say I Don’t Love You” could have been hits, but the real showstopper is “You Were The One,” and funky disco song that is one of the big “what were they thinking?” moments of Diana’s career with Motown.  This is, frankly, one of the best dance songs ever recorded by Diana — a classy, funky club song boasting a poppin’ bassline and a powerful vocal performance.  It’s completely of its era, and yet sophisticated enough that it doesn’t sound nearly as dated today as much of the disco released in the late 1970s — it doesn’t even sound as dated as some of the songs on Diana’s great 1979 album The Boss Along with Diana’s soaring vocal, there’s an anthemic quality to the piece that could have easily carried it to hit status.  Why Motown went with a lackluster dance single to promote this album when it had such a stunner just doesn’t make sense.  It was the one, indeed.

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There are, of course, many “honorable mentions” that belong on this list; “Never Say I Don’t Love You” from Ross ’78 could have been a big pop hit, and “No One Gets The Prize” and/or “I Ain’t Been Licked” from The Boss should have been given a chance to chart.  And what would have happened if the absolutely sublime “Free (I’m Gone)” (featured on the Japan pressing of Every Day Is A New Day) had been serviced to R&B radio — would it have finally gotten Miss Ross the airplay she deserved during the late 1990s?  It’s impossible to say…but boy, is it fun to speculate.

Now, as Diana would say, it’s your move.  What are your top “should have been” singles?  What overlooked album tracks deserved one shining moment?

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About Paul

Album-by-album, track-by-track, a look at the entire Diana Ross discography...
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50 Responses to Were You The One? The Top 5 Hits That Got Away

  1. Les says:

    I agree with you 100% on “You Were the One” and “All Night Lover”. These are the highlights of both of these albums. I listened to these specific recordings endlessly thinking the same thing. Why aren’t these singles?

    • Paul says:

      I know, Les — it’s confounding. Especially “You Were The One” being passed over in favor of “What You Gave Me.” I assume the latter was chosen as single because it was a Hal Davis production, and he’d scored with “Love Hangover” and “Don’t Leave Me This Way.” But “You Were The One” is so strong – I just don’t see how anyone could have overlooked it.

  2. artistonfire says:

    Thanks for mentioning “You Were The One”! That song always makes me smile! 🙂

  3. There are so many – but “It’s Hard for me to Say” is the obvious big hit that got away! I never understood why it wasn’t released as the first (or any) single! I also have always thought “After You,” “Stone Liberty,” “Someone that you Loved Before,” and “Carry On” could have been big on the hot 100 – and I agree with you about “Change of Heart” as well 🙂

    • Paul says:

      Lawrence — totally agree with every song you listed — especially “Stone Liberty.” The whole LAST TIME I SAW HIM album was pretty much thrown away, and it’s a shame — “Stone Liberty” has such an assertive vocal and memorable lyric, I think it could have really caught on with radio. It would have given Diana something a little more challenging to sink her teeth into when performing live, too. Diana was also ripe for a major dance hit in 1999, too, especially in the wake of Cher’s comeback — I never understood why “Carry On” wasn’t released to clubs instead of “Until We Meet Again,” which was pretty weak.

    • Luis Boki says:

      Besides disappointing Luther who wanted to produce the entire album, Luther was also fighting with Epic in his desire to have a #1 Hot 100. To be honest, having Diana as a duet partner in 1986, wasn’t as sure a thing that say “Endless Love” in 1980 was. So, at least in America, her clout wasn’t what it had been. That said, “It’s Hard for Me to Say” was a #1 R&B and then #1 Adult Contemporary finally working its way to the upper reaches of the Hot 100.
      Luther was fighting with Epic, Diana did NOT want to resign with RCA….so the respective labels were not dependable allies.

  4. 🙂 I agree Paul – and I thought Carry On could have been a perfect concert finale, instead of IWS (which has been done way too much!)

    • Paul says:

      Oh man, you are so right. Diana loves “I Will Survive” and she always kills it in concert, but the song will always belong to Gloria Gaynor. “Carry On” is a far lesser-known song, and could have been been more identified with Miss Ross.

    • Luis Boki says:

      So did and do I. Honestly, believe that Diana did have a special connection with that tried and tired classic. BUT it instantly became a cheap audience pleaser. No doubt it was a Top15 Euro hit, but, “Carry On” had the same sort of message and no where near as well known. But it also did indicate to me that I was getting older and maybe had lost the sense of what is a hit dance record.

  5. Billy "Ross" says:

    How Ironic that “You Were The One” Would BE #1 FOR ME ALSO Paul…!!!!…This song has Special Memories of a Time in My Life that will NEVER BE FORGOTTEN…!!!!….Have to give you the details One Day…!!!!…Just Know that I Still put it on BLAST TODAY and Just Smile and Remember….!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Paul F. Cesario says:

    I nominate “Summertime” from the Red Hot album. It’s one of the most tender beautifully sung ballads of her career.

    • Paul says:

      Paul — oh, yeah, that’s a great one. It’s easily one of the best ballads of Diana’s career — I actually prefer it to “It’s Hard For Me To Say” — but I think the Vandross connection to the latter tune could have made it easier for that song to become an R&B hit. I do wish “Summertime” was better known — Diana’s reading is haunting and romantic.

  7. Forgot one of my favorites that got away: Crime of Passion from Eaten Alive! I would have made this the third single –

    • Paul says:

      Oh yeah, EATEN ALIVE was totally mishandled. I wish “Chain Reaction” would have been the first single in the US — had it gotten a decent push from RCA, it could have been a smash here, too. Then I think “Crime Of Passion” or “Experience” could have been strong follow-ups. To me, the title track is just a big mess, and never stood a chance.

    • Luis Boki says:

      “Crime of Passion” could be a couple of minutes longer because it peaks too soon.

  8. dercbeep says:

    Great choices! “Is it Love or is it just Loneliness”(Ray Parker produced), “Have Fun Again” (Chic produced) were favs of mine, You nailed it with this article!

    • Paul says:

      Thanks! I think the handling of 1983’s ROSS was botched all around. I think “Let’s Go Up” should have been the album’s first single, and I agree “Love Or Loneliness” would have made a nice follow-up, as would “You Do It.” I don’t dislike “Pieces Of Ice,” but I think the song has a cool detachment that just didn’t generate any excitement at radio. The album is a very strong one, and deserved much more success.

      • Luis Boki says:

        Without a doubt “Let’s Go Up” should have been the lead single. It is the ideal summer single. There could have been two videos, a conceptual one that promoted the Central Park concert….take all the still shots of her looking wild in the jungle. And then after the concert aired, MTV and VH1 were subsidiaries of Viacom, like HBO…..the second day performance with the colorful balloons would have given her real MTV AirPlay. They could have even edited to catch the actual timing of the balloons being released. If you go back, you will see that the balloons aren’t released until 15-30-45 seconds later (or sooner cannot recall at the moment).
        It had a great hook. “Pieces of Ice” was lyrically esoteric and ambivalent. And then comeback with “Love or Loneliness”, much more melodic and not trying to be “Flashdance” with “Upfront” though I did like it initially.

  9. Billy Richardson says:

    I agree I ain’t been licked should have been released and just about the entire SURRENDER lp as well as half the songs from pink lp from 83 and heavy weather from force lp

    • Paul says:

      Billy — agree that SURRENDER is one of Diana’s finest albums and there are several song that could have been hits. Unfortunately, I think promotion was a little messy, without a clear focus by Motown on which songs to push. “Can’t Give Back The Love” is one of Diana’s greatest vocal performances ever — I wish more people had heard it.

    • Paul says:

      And PS — “Heavy Weather” is sublime — I think it could have scored well in the adult contemporary/adult R&B markets!

      • Luis Boki says:

        Motown (post-Gordy era) could never be considered a creative promotion label. “Heavy Weather” is a quality song, passionate and well produced. Realistically, it is a great album track that would have done well on the large market/Urban Adult Contemporary stations. Diana should have been an Arista or Virgin Records artists. Arista would have guaranteed her a #1 Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary single staying on the charts 16-20 weeks, “Heavy Weather” would be worked at Urban Adult Stations and a much, much stronger set of remixes on “You’re Gonna Love It” that was like the classic extended mixes and not these radical remixes that make the original almost unrecognizable. Then start setting up either “One Shining Moment” or possibly “Change of Heart”.
        It would have been a completely different outcome in the states.

  10. david hess says:

    Paul, so glad you brought this up,i totally agree with your song choices except the WIZ track, i have never heard it.will do now. but i love all the songs and agree they should have been singles.i would like to add NEVER SAY I DONT LOVE YOU/ CRIMES OF PASSION from EA/ GIVE UP from Diana/ CARRY ON from EDIAND / AINT NOTHING BUT A MAYBE

    • Paul says:

      David — “Never Say I Don’t Love You” narrowly missed my top 5 — I love that recording, and I think it could have been a big pop hit for Miss Ross.

  11. spookyelectric says:

    Some great choices here… looking through Diana’s full discography at discogs there’s actually loads of songs that were singles in some countries that I had no idea of – from great choices like Stone Liberty (New Zealand only it seems!) and You Got It, to odd ones like Smile and Sleepin’ (great track, one of her best, but can’t imagine that being a radio hit anywhere).

    What surprises me the most is that a Diana anthem like I Ain’t Been Licked was never a single anywhere. Virtually all those Ashford & Simpson/Diana collabs are so hook-laden and brilliant they have hit potential (I’ll Settle For You or Once In The Morning, I’m A Winner…. the list goes on) but I Ain’t Been Licked for the era seems a no-brainer to me. A shelved 12″ mix surfaced years later, so I guess someone at Motown thought the same at the time but changed their mind!

    • Paul says:

      Totally agree on “Sleepin'” — why it was released here in the US is a total mystery to me. I absolutely love the song — it’s a beautiful rendered piece — but I just don’t think it stood much of a chance of being a bit. “Stone Liberty” would have been a better choice here, I think.
      And yes — “I Ain’t Been Licked” seems like a no-brainer to me, too — the chart history of THE BOSS is pretty confounding overall. Strange that “It’s My House” was chosen as the second single — and even stranger than it only charted R&B. Seems like Diana’s promotion was really out of whack at this time — I’ve read she was disappointed by Motown’s response to THE BOSS and their handling of it.

    • Luis Boki says:

      Diana’s contract was up for renewal. There were fairly loud rumblings that she was finally entertaining leaving reason that “It’s My House” and any other track but “The Boss” were not worked. Her first HBO special was a “Diana Ross Enterprises presents…” instead of “Motown Productions” had been for “T.C.B.”, “G.I.T.” “Diana!”. Her next special, “diana (1980) for CBS was so successful that in an extremely rare incident, CBS aired it the following year (in part, due to how hot Michael Jackson was at the time…..it duplicated exactly its Top rated variety special success of the previous year). Apparently, there was not even a ticket allocation for Motown staff. And perhaps that is why the brilliant extended mixes on “No One Gets the Prize” on “Motown Anthology”, “It’s My House” on “The Boss: Special Edition”, “I Ain’t Been Licked” on “diana: Deluxe Edition/Disc 2”, “The Boss/Extended 12inch” and “Once in the Morning”/Special Promo Only Remix 12 inch”.

      All of these great additions were hindered because of sensitive promotional negotiations

      That said, in a perfect world “It’s My House” would be the 2nd single and “I Ain’t Been Licked” the 3rd and/or “No One Gets the Prize”.

  12. Damecia says:

    Below are my top 10 songs that should have been radio singles for Miss Ross:

    1. Telephone – Great, sexy R&B track that surely would have topped. Rodger and Edwards should have produced the whole Swept Away album, beside “Missing You” and “All of You”. IMO they brought out the best of Diana in the early 80s. (Workin Overtime not so much lol)

    2. I Love You (Call Me) – I don’t care what anyone says, Diana’s version is superior than Aretha’s. Vocal and production wise.

    3. I Ain’t Been Licked – As stated above this seemed to be such an obvious choice to be a single.

    4. You Were the One – Agree with everything already written about this great track with such a burning intro.

    5. Love On the Line – I do not care for “Chain Reaction” at all. This imo should have been the 2nd single from Eaten Alive instead. Eaten Alive is an album that I wished Michael Jackson would have produced entirely. He brought out an entire diffrent sound from Diana. Just think she has never sounded like she did on “Muscles” or “Eaten Alive on any other tracks.

    6. Nobody Makes Me Crazy Like You Do – I think with a visual attach this would have been a great single. The new wave sound was thriving during this era and so was MTV.

    7. Something on My Mind – Nice, easy breezy sweet track that was the perfect length.

    8. All of my Life – This Carpenters sounding tune would have definitely fit in with the easy listening format and would have been one of her standard tunes in concert.

    9. Friend to Friend – I thought this was a single, lol. Should have been the last single released from the diana album.

    10. I’m Falling In Love With You – this duet with Marvin would have been a great single.

    • Paul says:

      Some great songs here! I 100% agree that Diana did the impossible and elevated “I Love You (Call Me)” — it was a very deserving Grammy nominee, and should have won for her. Amazingly, “Telephone” WAS a single — the 4th released in the US from SWEPT AWAY, and it managed to climb to the top 20 of the R&B chart. I think RCA (and probably Diana, too) were a little over promoting the album by that time, and were beginning to think about EATEN ALIVE….from what I’ve read, RCA really only serviced “Telephone” to R&B stations, ignoring pop completely.

      • Damecia says:

        Hi Paul!

        Didn’t know that about “Telephone.” It definitely should have been a bigger hit then. And yes, as you say Diana did the impossible with “(Call Me)” another moment just like the Oscar moment with Liza that just proves Miss Ross is one of the most underrated and slept on artist in pop history.

      • Luis Boki says:

        “Telephone” actually was Top 15! There was not even a remix. A member of Chic, Bernard Edwards, wrote and produced it, a bass heavy, early Sunday morning groove. Another no brainer was “Touch by Touch” which was a hit across Continental Europe. She had a great platform opening up with it on the American Music Awards. It was a hit album that could have been closed out with “Forever Young”.

      • Luis Boki says:

        When a label sent promos out to only one format like R&B and/or Adult Contemporary, they don’t feel that the record will cross to pop. But RCA was considered one of the least progressive (read: very good) labels. They are known as the R.ecord C.emetery of A.merica, where careers go to die. A progressive label like Arista would have made certain “All of You” was a #1 Adult Contemporary ballad that would cross Top 10 Pop. “Swept Away” would have been a #1 Dance single, as it was, and then an assured Top 10 Pop. “Missing You” would have been a multi-format #1 on Pop, R&B and Adult Contemporary. (RCA basically met these goals but failed to maximize a single’s full potential. “Missing You” was a perfect example. Both Pop and R&B stations were bombarded with phone requests the days after Diana premiered the video on the American Music Awards. The American Music Awards were not the Soul Train Music Awards. The phone requests hit Pop stations with even more veracity than just R&B stations).
        Arista was notorious for making certain that a hit album is maximized. Not only would they have insured that “Telephone” crossed to pop stations, “Touch by Touch”, a hit across continental Europe, and release a 5th single that she opened and performed on the American Music Awards ….that performance could have served as the music video.
        The album eventually was certified platinum but it shouldn’t have been such a difficult journey. (I also would have replaced “We Are the Children of the World” with “Fight for It”. The album would have grown from “very good” to “hot”, stocked full of hits.

  13. david h says:

    thanks for making me fall in love with some of these songs again. I remember when I purchased LAST TIME lp , the only song I liked was STONED LIBERTY…. and YOU WERE THE ONE should have BEEN single…along with AINT BEEN LICKED/ NO ONE GETS THE PRIZE. I think Motown dropped the ball. imo, people talk about how Motown dropped the ball with the 70s supremes but….I think they mishandled Diana career at times as well, for example.,.BLUE. think I need to make a new playlist .thanks!

  14. Oliver says:

    01. Shockwaves (Remix). I’ve always loved this particular remix and thought then it should have been a bigger hit. Diana sings it breathless, sexy and very well. Plus it’s one of the few songs that she has co-written. I think with a proper video this could have been big.

    02. (I Love) Being In Love With You. I’m not really a fan of the “Eaten Alice”- album (too much Bee Gees vocal-mimikry) but I think this really could have been the perfect ballad for a single release. Here in Europe “Experience” was the third single from that album and it was okay. But I don’t know- “(I Love) Beinh In Love With You” has the stronger chorus and it’s quite catchy

    03. Heavy Weather. This really is one of the most missed opportunities for single release while being with RCA. It’s a very strong song with great vocals, it’s catchy, serious and has good groove- all at the same time. The theme of the lyrics was / is also very appropriate and was in my opinion a welcome change from the well known love songs on that album

    04. Missing You. This really should have been a worldwide smash- except it wasn’t. It’s beyond me whgy Diana was nominated for a Grammy award with the whispery “Muscles” and the strange “Eaten Alive” but this one was not even nominated. I think it’s one of her most heartfelt, strongest vocals ever and touches me every time I hear it. At least it went Top Ten in the USA.

    05. Once In The Morning. I’ve always liked this track very much. Great vocals, great rhythmn, good to dance to- should have been the second or third single from that album.

    Has anyone here any idea which song / single could have saved the album “Workin’ Overtime” from sinking without trace????

    • Paul says:

      Oliver — had “Bottom Line” been released first, I think the fate of “Workin Overtime” would have been very different. “Bottom Line” is a radio-friendly, adult, multi-format song that should have been the first single — it would have appealed to both younger fans and those that had grown up along with Diana.

  15. Oliver says:

    I agree, “Bottom Line” would have been a better lead single although I must admit that I quite liked “Workin’ Overtime” (the single). But when I bought the album I was disappointed by many other songs like “Keep Dancin” or “What Can One Person Do”. Dianas vocals sound strained and the instrumentation is the same in all of those songs. When I played the album to other people they agreed that it did not sound like Diana Ross at all but otherwise they could not be bothered. I guess that nobody REALLY believed that Diana was into that sound and that she just did it to stay “hip”. But most people who were forced by me to listen to that album 🙂 were turned off by the repetitious songwriting and the thin thin production. And that’s a problem I had every now and then with Dianas albums: every time she tries to be or sound like something she isn’t (i.e. “Eaten Alive” (album) or “Workin’ Overtime” (album) or “Fool For Your Love” (“Silk Electric”) it always backfires. But I remember her cool answer when Barbara Walters interviewed her for the “Workin’ Overtime”-album (the clip flows around somewhere on youtube) and asked Diana: “What will you do if this album doesn’t sel?”. To which Diana replied: “Record another one”. There you go:-)

    • spookyelectric says:

      I always like ‘This House’ – great video too – of course its totally unrepresentative of the rest of the record… Apart from ‘Bottom Line’ and the title track, and maybe ‘Paradise’, the rest is shockingly weak – such a shame considering the talents involved.

  16. Christopher K says:

    Hi Paul,
    Another fun topic. Thanks for prompting another list of great songs:
    1. Where Did We Go Wrong* – from ‘Ross.’ Beautiful ballad; timeless, perfectly performed by everyone involved.

    2. You’ve Made Me So Very Happy – from ‘Tribute to Berry Gordy’. Jazzy, upbeat and a joyous performance by Diana. (With their history, this would’ve been huge)

    3. Battlefield – from ‘Force Behind The Power’ This album houses many great songs; but this song is brilliant. A bit Supremes-y, perhaps, but years away as far as vocal ability and arrangement.

    4. Summertime – from ‘Red Hot Rhythm and Blues’. Gorgeous. Arrangements as sweeping and melancholy as the beautifully sung lyrics; major cross-over potential.

    5. Gone – from ‘Take Me Higher’. Another album containing many great songs, but this song has it all, sweet, sad, beautifully performed; also major cross-over potential.

    Honorable mentions:
    Bottom Line – from ‘Workin’ Overtime’
    Love On The Line, (I Love) Being In Love With You – from ‘Eaten Alive’
    What About Love – from ‘I Love You’
    It’s Hard For Me To Say – from ‘Red Hot Rhythm and Blues’
    I Never Loved a Man Before – from ‘Take Me Higher’.
    Someone That You Loved Before – from ‘Everyday’s A New Day’
    Waiting in The Wings – from ‘Force Behind The Power’
    After You* – from ‘Diana Ross’.
    You Got It* – from ‘Baby, It’s Me’
    Love Me* – from ‘Last Time I Saw Him
    * Classic Diana Ross ballads. Love ’em. Will never tire of hearing them.

    Peace.

    • Paul says:

      “Where Did We Go Wrong” is great — definitely sounds like a “hit that got away” — Motown thoroughly botched up ROSS ’78, releasing only one single, and one of the weakest songs at that!!

  17. Trevor P says:

    I’m convinced I’ll Settle For You from the Surrender album would have been an enormous hit (at least here in the UK).

  18. Michael G. Coyle says:

    Hi Paul, As a Fan of Miss Ross since 1965, when I was all of 6 years old, I must tell you what a joy your Diana Project is. It is so nice to see recognition of the great recording career Diana has enjoyed and which has been sadly ignored by her peers(eg the Grammies) and Music Critics in General. KEEP REACHING PAUL!!!! Here are the songs I always felt should have been single releases from Diana’s Solo Albums:

    Diana Ross 1970 – Her stunning version of Your All I Need to Get By was pure Gold.
    Everything is Everything – 1970 – I Love How You Call Me – even the Grammy people had this one right with the well deserved Grammy Nomination.
    Surrender – I Can’t Give Back the Love I Feel for You was a sure hit. A glorious vocal far surpassing the commercially released single by Vikki Carr on Columbia the same year.
    Touch Me in the Morning – I Won’t Last a Day Without You, surely the equal of Karen Carpenter’s Top 11 Hit Version of the following year. Always a mystery to me why the incredible All of My Life was not released either in the United States as it became a Top Ten Smash in Europe.
    Last TIme I Saw Him – Without a doubt the Bob Gaudio produced Stone Liberty had #1 written all over it. Like Frankie Valli’s Motown tenure, Mr. Gordy missed this one.
    Diana Ross 1976 – The haunting Diana produced Ain’t Nothing but a Maybe was the clear hit of Side Two.
    Baby It’s Me – I concur with your choice of All Night Lover though I also believe The Same Love that Made Me Laugh was a winner.
    Ross – I concur on You Were the One.
    The Boss – No One Gets the Prize was, in my opinion, the definitive Ashford and Simpson production on Diana.
    Diana – Hard to disagree with Upside Down and I’m Coming Out
    To Love Again – To this day Stay with Me is my favorite track on this Album.
    Why Do Fools Fall in Love – Two Can Make It reminded me of the Supremes.
    Silk Electric – Still in Love was Diana’s Ballad Showstopper for the 80’s
    Ross 83 – Upfront should have been the lead single. To this day I still can’t figure out the lyrics to Pieces of Ice.
    Swept Away – Hard to disagree with choices on this one, Missing You being an All Time Classic.
    Eaten Alive – I agree the release of the title track before Chain Reaction was a mistake and I believe Don’t Give Up on Each Other was the standout track for the whole album
    Red Hot – I still believe Shockwaves with the right promotion would have been huge though it did but dent the European charts.
    Workin Overtime – Bottom Line without question #1 with a Bullet though Motown’s shoddy work on the album killed any hope by the time this was released as Single #3
    The Force Behind the Power – So many choices and so many mistakes by Motown. At least EMI did it right with FIVE TOP 40 releases. Change of Heart should have been #6.
    Take Me HIgher – Only Love Can Conquer All a standout vocal performance, though I have always been mystified by the failure of the Title Track( even more so since I WAS ABLE TO SING IT WITH HER LAST WEEK AT HER PITTSBURGH SHOW), still floating.
    Every Day is a New Day – He Lives in You should have been released especially after the Oprah Performance, another miss by Motown.
    I Love You – If singles had been released More Today and her killer vocal on her brother’s I Want You would have been hits.

    Sure I could have found a few more but after FORTY-NINE YEARS of following Diana they are all special to me. Hope she adds some of these to the upcoming Venetian engagement it will be a thrill to return to Vegas to see her in November. CONTINUED THANKS AND KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK PAUL.

    Michael, Cleveland, Ohio

  19. David Wilson says:

    I agree with you on “All Night Lover” and “It’s Hard for Me to Say”. I would also add “Battlefield” from “Force Behind the Power”, I also have a soft spot for “Turn Around” from “Last Time I Saw Him” and “I Ain’t Been Licked” from “The Boss” (still think a current EDM outfit could do something cool with this track. Always felt that |I Thought It Took A Little Time” was another casualty quickly dropped for “Love Hangover|- it should’ve been a top 10 smash. I always hoped that a modern hip producer or EDM dance group would work with Diana- similar to the Pet Shop Boys with Dusty Springfield & Liza Minnelli or Propellerheads and Shirley Bassey or even KLF with Tammy Wynette and the Smiths with Sandie Shaw/ Take That with Lulu. Have to agree that I’m puzzled as to why she insists on keeping her awful reedy thin cheap 3rd rate version of I Will Survive in her live shows- one of her worst recordings ever (along with the equally awful version of Why Do Fools Fall in Love). Yet another example of poor judgement by Diana. Would’ve loved a duets album with young r&b/pop stars but unfortunately she doesn’t have the commercial pull these days to get them onboard- amazing to think Diana has been a stone cold chart act for 30 years in the US- what a waste!

    • Paul says:

      David — agree 100% — we’ve seen some very wasted years, which I think have diminished Diana’s legacy a bit here in the states. There are so many songs on FORCE and TAKE ME HIGHER that are stellar, and should have gotten radio play. I truly believe that if Motown had treated the FORCE album different here in the states, things would have turned out differently. Agree that “Battlefield” is really strong!

  20. Pingback: Diana Ross Sings Songs From The Wiz (Released 2015) | THE DIANA ROSS PROJECT

  21. Luis Boki says:

    It is impossible for a Diana Ross fan, especially one classifying themselves as a “Platinum Level Diana Ross Fan” to choose 5, but, if I had to, Paul you come pretty close. I almost ignored “Ross ’78” because in the second Rolling Stone cover feature, Diana stated she had 3 albums of recorded material ready to go including a children’s oriented album “To the Baby”(?possibly?), I believe “Songs from “The Wiz” and one other contemporary album which could have been “Ross ’78”. Albums almost thrown together like “Ross ’78” along with comments like “I don’t care what they release first”, would eventually almost immediately force Diana to be more attentive to her recording career, as her acting career was still building. By the time articles like this surfaced, I and many other fans were ready for Diana to leave Motown. (Luckily, “The Boss” and her first HBO special would come directly from her guidance.
    That said, “You Were the One” was lost, forgotten. Maybe if the original “Tour ’79” had toured beyond it’s celebrated, Universal Ampitheater” opening night where she opened with “You Were the One” in an oversized pink satin shoe as her stage prop….. I would have been more attentive. It really took “diana: The Deluxe Edition” second disc reawakened me to this wondrous record.
    Though “Baby It’s Me” made it to #18 as a Gold album primarily on Adult Contemporary AirPlay, fans were equally outspoken on how great “All Night Lover” was.
    And perhaps if Diana hadn’t foolishly only allowed Luther to produce “It’s Hard for Me to Say”, Luther may have fought harder for it to be released as a single.
    Of course, there is nothing more I can say about the glories of “Change of Heart”.

    It’s too bad that EMI America closed in the late 80s, if it were as potent and respected as EMI International……that would have been the perfect label for her after she had originally left Motown. What shortsighted critics don’t know, forget or simply not well read, The Supremes from the onset, was a pop group. Their first single with any chart significance was “When the Lovelight Starts Shining” was a penultimate hit, it also hit #24* on the Hot 100. And then, “Where Did Our Love Go?” became a #1 smash in 5 weeks at both pop and R&B and eventually Adult Contemporary.
    From that moment on, Diana broke at pop radio first save for later career singles. Simply stated, returning to a Motown that had reverted to its R&B indie composition and had lost almost any strength at Top 40 radio. “Take Me Higher” certainly had a number of R&B/pop single candidates, whereas, “The Force Behind the Power” was decidedly “pop”.. Factor in a staff that probably heard “The Force Behind the Power” almost like a classical album, it was soooo far out of the realm of the company, it was relatively easy for EMI International to outshine Motown 1990-present.

  22. William Sturman says:

    I know I’m late to this but agree with Change of Heart. Also I believe if Chain Reaction was the lead single off of Eaten Alive, it would have been a big hit in the U.S. – the lack of success of the Eaten Alive single killed the rest of the album in the U.S. Also surprised that I Thought It Took a Little Time wasn’t a bigger hit. I think a duet with Brandy from Double Platinum would have had a chance at being a hit. I think Telephone was her worst single release. Another more interesting question – what songs did Diana pass on – I’ve heard she was originally offered the duet with George Michael, I Knew You Were Waiting…does anybody know if that is true?

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