Diana Ross - Diana Ross (Deluxe Edition)
From Motown’s silkiest songbird to half-forgotten: whatever happened to Diana Ross? While the world of pop mourns Whitney Houston, the tragedy of her rise and fall adding her name indelibly to the soul canon alongside Aretha and Nina Simone, it almost beggars belief that Diana’s name never quite made it to such lasting heights. Was she ultimately just too pop and too popular, too smooth, too inextricably bound to period pop chic to manage the required cred? Does a backstory built on strife help politicise the black female artist? Maybe. More likely she pulls up just short of the premier league in the eyes of many observers because the voice, all sweetness and light, lacks some of the heft and much of the grain of the bigger belters. Built to ring clean and true, it wasn't built for volume or world record note-holding. Regardless, she continues to pull ‘em in on US tours and if her currency started to weaken a good quarter century ago, there are diamonds aplenty in the repertoire.
Most notably this, the highlight of her post-Supremes catalogue, and released in 1976, just a few years before she split with Motown. Shimmering with feather-light balladry (‘Do You Know Where You’re Going To?’, ‘One Love In My Lifetime’) and crystalline grooves (the immense, oft-sampled ‘Love Hangover), ‘the black album’ is a compelling argument for Diana Ross as one of the most natural and naturally gifted vocalists of the pop age. Beautifully repackaged with new liner notes, rare period graphics and a second disc of rarities, it’s a gateway into a world forgotten by many, and unfairly so. Run the rule over the discography and, yes, much of it is horribly manufactured tosh, but this, this is exquisite and incomparable.