Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Jazz, Pop, R&B, Broadway & Vocalists
Nearly 35 years after being tagged for debasing Billie Holiday's legacy with her slick pop vocals in the biopic Lady Sings the Blues--an approach producer Berry Gordy claims he had her take to make her "more relatable to a... more »
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Nearly 35 years after being tagged for debasing Billie Holiday's legacy with her slick pop vocals in the biopic Lady Sings the Blues--an approach producer Berry Gordy claims he had her take to make her "more relatable to a general audience"--Diana Ross gets a chance to redeem herself with these jazzier, alternate versions of the same material. Recorded around the time of the 1972 film (several bonus tracks come directly from the movie sessions), the original album was conceived as a companion piece to the soundtrack. But it was shelved and, we are told, lost in the vaults until recently. The good news is that when she commits herself to jazz, with a group of top jazz musicians behind her (playing arrangements by Benny Golson and Oliver Nelson), Ross holds her own. Her renditions of Holiday staples such as "You've Changed" and "Easy Living" are a bit mild, but lovely and relaxed. She makes up for the basic thinness of her voice with her cool, immaculate handling of melody. It's when she relies on her pop-soul instincts, as she does on a painfully awkward reading of "I Loves You Porgy," or has to contend with album arranger Gil Askey's Vegas-style touches, that she sounds unconvincing or unsteady. But Ross' diehard fans won't want to be without "Blue" and her more casual admirers will be intrigued by this departure. --Lloyd Sachs
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Love being Blue
"jiffy" jim link | Hoboken, NJ United States | 06/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are many "standards" albums out there...some good, some bad. This one is EXCELLENT. This album accomplishes something rare these days in a standards album. It sounds original, fresh, crisp and wonderful....an amazing fact since it is a from-the-vaults recording from 1973. The sound is superb as is Diana Ross' voice. To be commended and noted is the choice of outstanding material. I'm totally in love with the not-covered-enough song "But Beautiful" & I love the playful pondering of "Had You Been Around"....Personal favorite is to see the track "Smile" appear on CD again (since the 1976 album it once appeared on, "Diana Ross", is OOP). Invest in this CD and you won't be sorry. Additional kudos to Gil Askey who conducted the orchestra :-) What a great album!!!"
Ain't no mountain high enough: Diana conquers it.
Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 07/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album is an eye-opener, especially after all the negative press and peer criticism that followed the rock queen's portrayal of America's foremost tragic jazz diva as well as her impersonation of a music persona of cult-like proportions in the inner, exclusive circles of the "hip" jazz world. But the evidence on this disk is compelling. Diana did her homework, absorbing everything about the Holiday style except the rough (admittedly expressive) grain of the voice, undoubtedly exacerbated by years of smoking, drinking, doping. Moreover, she goes directly to the heart of Billie Holiday--the most painful, heart-wrenching performance of them all: Jimmy Van Heusen's "But Beautiful" from "The Lady in Satin" Album.
The phrasing, the breathing, the inflections, the accents and, above all, the unforced elocution are Lady Day. No artist could replicate Billie's singing "it's a heartache anyway" the second time around--a moment when her voice and heart literally break, life replacing art--but Diana nonetheless shows that she "gets" it: she evokes the feeling and drama though certainly not the excuciatingly tragic moment itself.
"I Can't Get Started," "Easy Living," "Solitude," and "Ain't No Body's Business" stand up right alongside the original performances--the tempos, storytelling, emotions so convincing that a listener might think the later performer is "channeling" the earlier.
No wonder the studio execs thought better than to release this one--a "serious" project that would very likely have made little money and put a damper on the mega-hits to follow. Still, Ross no doubt profited from the experience in non-material ways, learning how to communicate a song's essence as never before.
Because there is some "fluff" on the album recalling the weaker moments of the movie, five stars is representative of the songs cited above as well as "You've Changed," "He's Funny That Way," "My Man," and "Our Love Is Here to Stay." The shallowness of the remaining performances serves as a reminder of how much better she could be when she put her whole self into daunting material, literally becoming one with the spirit of the tortured life and torturous consciousness of a creative genius."
"Blue" is BETTER than the "Lady Sings The Blues" soundtrack
Rachael L. Woodhouse | 07/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As a committed, fervently adoring Diana Ross disciple, I wanted to wait a while before writing my review, because of course I loved this from the very first listen, but I wanted to really "get to know" this album and see what our "relationship" develops into. In that way, I can better evaluate the album's strongest points and cuts. I purchased my first copy at Starbuck's on May 16, then two more for friends in early July.
Ultimately, to cut to the chase, I feel that this CD is perhaps THE most important Diana Ross effort to be freed from the vaults. It even surpasses the excitement of the original Chic mix of "diana" when that was released in 2003. That moment for me was pure ecstasy; however, "Blue" is even more glorious. More importantly, it certainly ranks among her finest work PERIOD, solo or otherwise, and in my opinion surpasses the LSTB soundtrack. There is something about "Blue" that is even finer. Basically, she is jazzier on here and so Supremely confident. As far as how this ranks compared to Supremes vaults releases, I have a hard time deciding if this is even better than "There's A Place For Us", released in 2004. Vocally, Ross is more mature (though still young -- a mere 28!), confident, and most of all, JAZZ-ORIENTED as opposed to more showbizz-oriented (i.e. schmaltzy), as she was in the 60s. Also, the sound quality, due to the fine musicians, Gil Askey's true jazz arrangements (which only slide into Vegas on "I Loves You Porgy"), and the fresh mix, puts this above TAPFU.
1. "But Beautiful" - Wow is all I can say. She is tender, delicate, and brimming with a perfect balance of melancholy and wistfulness. This, folks, is singing. (Streisand, take notes.)
2. "Easy Living" - The epitome of jazz cat coolness! Diana has this totally classic laid-back approach and it just makes you grin.
3. "Let's Do It" - I am surprised more reviewers haven't lavished praise on this track. Ross nails this one, biting into the humour of the lyrics, while bringing it right back to a sincere romantic plea in the last bar. A correct interpretation.
4. "Solitude" - I know from listening to this that this was one of the "demo" takes from the original LSTB sessions, because the sound and Gil's clapping at the end matches the sound on a rare acetate I own of LSTB outtakes. A stunning, simple performance. Dreamlike.
5. "No More" - Again, a correct lyrical interpretation. I say "correct" because most pop singers not of the jazz idiom would not understand the subtleties and complexity of the lyrics. It is a beguiling song in which you aren't sure if the character is glad to be without her lover or not, and the character sounds as though she may be toked up or sloshed. Ross's rendition is sung with amazing intelligence.
6. "Had You Been Around" - This track is important because it was an original written specifically for "Lady Sings The Blues". On the soundtrack, a singer called Michelle Aller does about 30 seconds of it in a scene in a club. But for some reason, Diana's version didn't appear on the soundtrack. This is a fine, sterling track and what makes it important is that being an original composition, Diana didn't have a Billie or Ella original to listen to; she had to invent the style to sing it in. She nails it in true jazz style, which proves that she could do jazz without listening to somebody else first.
NOW - what intrigues me is this: did or didn't Diana record "Happy", the love theme from LSTB??? Why wouldn't she? Is it still in the vaults? I mean, everyone at Motown from Smokey Robinson (on "A Quiet Storm"), Michael Jackson, and Bobby Darin recorded this. Why wouldn't Diana have sung when it was written for LSTB? Can't figure that one out, but I would give anything to hear her sing it!
There are more great moments on the CD, but these are the ones I have chosen to pontificate on in my review. Get "Blue" and you won't be blue -- you'll be lost in a moment!"