Because these days we’re so focused on collecting either Diana Ross vinyl (the best cover art) or Diana Ross CDs (the best sound), it’s easy to forget that Motown once produced some really wild collections on cassette tape. I absolutely love this one, released in 1990 under the “Motown Special Products” imprint. My dad picked it up for me years ago at a Big Lots store in Daytona Beach, Florida — for those of you unfamiliar with Big Lots, it’s a discount store crammed with everything from jelly beans to bedroom sets. But this cassette is random even by Big Lots standards — check out this lineup:
1. Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand) (from Diana Ross)
2. Stone Liberty (from Last Time I Saw Him)
3. We Can Never Light That Old Flame Again (single, released 1982)
4. When Will I Come Home To You (from Last Time I Saw Him)
1. It’s My Turn (from To Love Again)
2. (They Long To Be) Close To You (from Everything Is Everything)
3. Together (from Ross)
4. For Once In My Life (from Motown Superstars Sing Motown Superstars)
There are several great inclusions here, the most notable being “For Once In My Life.” Diana had recorded the song in the 1970s with Hal Davis (of “Love Hangover”), but it was shelved until it showed up in the 1983 LP Motown Superstars Sing Motown Superstars featuring various artists. As of this writing, the song hasn’t been released anywhere else since, making it one of the singer’s rarer recordings. Meanwhile, “We Can Never Light That Old Flame Again” was another shelved 70s track, finally released by Motown as a single in 1982 but never on a studio album.
There were a few other Diana Ross cassette tapes released around the same time that offer up similarly obscure tracklists (one is titled Baby It’s Me, but isn’t the actual album Baby It’s Me — how’s that for confusing?), and eventually the “Motown Legends” series of CDs would use this same format, placing a few hits alongside deep cuts and previously unreleased material. Looking over the songs included on the various cassettes I’ve seen, it sure seems like someone wanted more people to hear the albums Everything Is Everything, Ross, and Last Time I Saw Him, all of which get major play. And considering those were probably the three hardest-to-find Ross releases at the time, these cassettes seem like generous gifts to fans.
Now…if only I could find my old cassette player so I could play the thing again…