"Some would argue that Diana Ross' 1980 "diana" is really a Chic album with Ross singing lead vocals. Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers of the influential 1970s group serve as producers, and the result is a non-stop party filled with groovilicious tunes that are just as stellar as anything by Chic. "diana" was a huge commercial hit upon release, and for a good reason: the album is excellent and may be the best of Diana's post-Supremes career. Who could forget the hit singles "Upside Down" and the uplifting "I'm Coming Out?" If any female singer kicked off the 1980s with a bang, it's definitely Ms. Ross, thanks to this classic of an album. "diana" has been remastered and is part of Universal's "Deluxe Edition" series. The first disc has not one but two versions of the album. One is the "diana" as released, and another is the "Chic Mix." I definitely prefer the latter version as it is more relaxed, free-flowing, and is somewhat less polished than the "diana" that was released in stores. I'm glad that we finally have the chance to hear this classic "as nature intended." In addition, a bonus disc of extended mixes and other jams is what makes this CD a must-own for Dianaphiles and casual listeners. We get, among others, a full-length 10 minute version of the classic "Love Hangover," a standout mix of the excellent "No One Gets the Prize/The Boss" and other previously unreleased tracks like "Fire Don't Burn," and "You Build Me Up to Tear Me Down." Sure, there's a single disc version of "diana" available, and like the deluxe edition, it's digitally remastered. But you're only selling yourself short by getting that version. The deluxe edition is a can't fail purchase; it's an example of what happens when you take a classic album and make it even better."
Expensive, but an absolute must have for Chic and Diana fans
guillermoj | Washington, DC United States | 02/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although the 1980 release of "diana" was remastered in 1999 and sounded like a million bucks, I was unaware of the whole production controversy as I always thought that said release had been produced by Chic producers Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers. Through the extensive liner notes and reviews by other Amazon.com reviewers I now understand that the producers' work was handed to a seasoned Motown veteran named Russ Terrana who cut down on the Chic touches and made it more mainstream (whatever that is). Having said that, a side to side comparison is almost a draw as there are merits to both; notwithstanding, I my clear preference goes to the original Chic-produced songs as it does not push Diana back into the mix a some suggest, but rather it has her sounding more relaxed and free-flowing than ever. The Chic touch does not make it a "Chic" release, fronted by Diana Ross, as it's a collaboration just like any other. No one ever says that "The Boss" release is as an "Ashford & Simpson" release fronted by Diana Ross, but their influence is in the mix.Competing versions aside, the back to back releases of "The Boss" and "diana" are in my opinion on top of the list for Diana's best solo work. A case can be made for either but "diana" wins on its strong singles, newly released original versions, and non-singles that get more infectous every time that you hear them. I've become absolutely hooked "Have Fun (Again)," as the arragements/choruses are addictive. Also, the really cool sounds integrated into "Friend To Friend" have brought that song an underlying funkiness to its already great version. And there is a tropical touch added to "My Old Piano" that sends the song to a place that it never reached. This 2003 remastered 2 CD collection is broken down as follows:Disc 1 includes the retouched/released song set and it is followed by the original/previously unreleased song set. So whatever your preference it's a win/win. Disc 2, titled "Dance" is a hodgepodge of remixes, unreleased songs, extended versions, and a even a Supremes medley that for the most part are not "essential" BUT is a must if, like me, you love the song "Love Hangover", as the extended alternative 10 minute mix is the best version that I've ever heard of that song. Remixes are a hit/miss (generally miss) as they are either an extended version that does not have any value added or re-workings, which generally push the singer to the back with whatever sound is club-worthy at any given moment. Some of these songs never end. This second CD is also a must have for me as it has an amazing version that seamlessly combines "No One Gets The Price/The Boss" into something that is greater than the sum of its already great parts. There a couple of songs that I had not heard off which also registered quite nicely.Like most things, all is not perfect even in this release. The aforementioned Supremes medley is truly awful and there are about 5 others in the 2nd CD that are filler. Although this release easily earns its 5 stars simply for its 1st CD as it's rather brave for a record company to risk alienating those hard-core fans who probably bought the: original LP, first-released CD, the 1999 remastered CD, and now have this to consider. If enough people wind up championing the original Chic versions, there may be an uprising of sorts. But then what do I know. One huge issue that I have with the "Deluxe Edition Releases" is their high price. In almost no case do two CDs warrant such a high listing price (up to $29.99 in most stores) and it seems like this pricing will be a trend as many releases are getting the "Deluxe Edition" treatment. The worst example is one of my favorites, which is "Grease", as the "Deluxe Edition" is the only remastered version to be released since the original analogue and although it sounds better than ever, the second CD has several "sing-a-long versions" that are simply due to lacking material, also retailing for up to $29.99.Notwithstanding pricing issues, "diana" is one THE great releases and listening to the Chic original versions, I can't believe that I had not before put this release among my all-time favorites. Well that has been remedied!"
Unraveled: Why Diana didn't sound so CHIC in 1980
RJA Dullemans | Zwaag Netherlands | 08/21/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've bought this set not because I'm such a great admirer of La Ross (I like a song or two and love her The Boss-lp), but much more for my undying appreciation of the classic 70's productions by Edwards & Rogers from CHIC. By the time they cut this album in 1979, it was widely known that once you got involved with the CHIC duo you got them all the way: as songwriters,arrangers and producers. Every album they recorded in the late 70's were as much albums by themselves as by the vocalist they were actually recording with. Not that it mattered, for the final results were overall stunning, polishing their trademark style to perfection. I still remember, upon hearing the original vinyl album in 1980, how less CHIC it actually sounded. the songs were fine, but the production sounded very flat ,if not uninspired to me. Later we learned that the released album-mix wasn't done by Edwards & Rodgers, but redone by in-house Motown engineer Russ Terrana. With the release of this Deluxe edition, we finally get to hear the album as it was originally intended. And what a brilliant experience this is; anyone with ears can hear how much effort Edwards & Rogers put in the arrangements alas not audible in the originally released version . As we learn from the extensive liner notes, Nile Rodgers was devastated on hearing the final mix released by Motown. We only can feel sympathy for his feelings; a great artistic achievement destroyed. But as history proved the album sold like hot cakes anyway. So let's just be greatfull that we finally get access to this trove from the Motown vaults. And as the icing on the cake we get a second disc with much more classic dance-stuff; the disconet-version of 'Love Hangover', the discofied Supremes medley, 12 inch versions of 'The Boss','What you gave me' and much, much more. In case you haven't noticed; for all you old-school disco lovers; this one's essential !!!"
'De-lightful' De-luxe Edition
Eso | Oakdale | 07/30/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"No one would dispute that the original release Diana Ross' 1980 solo release "Diana" is perhaps the most seminal of her career. From a standpoint of musicality and creativity to this day in its entirety it remains of the most polished and sophisticated listens within Diana Ross' vast catalogue. Diana Ross sought to make a statement with "Diana", and that she did. The set would catapult Diana Ross into even greater superstar status thus marking her ability to command a twenty million dollar record contract with RCA Records. The release of "Diana" ushered in a new era for Diana Ross as a creative entity as well as superstar. With "Diana", she was able to reposition herself seamlessly as an icon in one decade to the next. The production on "Diana" lent Diana a new, fresh and progressive style unheard of at time when as the '80s began new trends for American music had yet to take shape. The Chic Organization was able to bridge the gap between the decades by inventing a grittier R & B inflected brand of Dance music that would inevitably please purists from both genres alike. As her last album under contract to Motown during her first tenure, Ross went out with a bang and it is fantastic that Motown has reissued the set. It was widely held that Ross was not as enthused with the previously unreleased original Chic mixes of the songs because her voice was not forward enough. The release of "Diana" juxtaposes the original previously unreleased Chic mixes of all the songs on "Diana" with the previously released Russ Terrana/Motown edit of the album. It is a fascinating listen availing Ross fans of the opportunity to compare and contrast the mixes of these songs. No matter how one slices it, Ross' contribution to the set is amazing, and the music is sophisticated and polished throughout. It is evident Ross is experimenting vocally during the sessions as reflected by the difference between the original version of "I'm Coming Out" versus the previously unreleased Chic original edit. Her vocal inflections and delivery seem more soulful and gritty in the original Chic edit. She is also more restrained in the original Chic edit however such an emphatic and dramatic pronouncement as "I'm Coming Out" is better served by the Russ Terrana/Motown edit. In the previously unreleased original Chic mix of "My Old Piano", her voice is also more forward and her more soulful vocal inflections resound.In an odd twist, in the originally intended Chic mix of "Upside Down", her voice is more forward. It is clearer and on some level after about two minutes in Ross is rawer than in the Terrana edit. "Have Fun Again" is quite different in the Chic edit and certain instrumentation is more forward. Unfortunately, that ad-lib Diana does at the beginning of "Now That You're Gone" seems not to have been part of the original Chic edit. Also, the springing noise that added to the song's exotic flair seems non-existent in the original Chic edit. The song also ends abruptly. "Tenderness" has to be the highlight of the unreleased Chic edits. About three minutes and forty-five seconds into it, that Chic stamp adds a lot to the original. This mix is better than the original."Diana: Deluxe" also boasts 12" versions of some of her hits as well as alternate takes including an alternate take of "We Can Never Light That Old Flame Again, a Holland Dozier Holland song vaguely reminiscent of the latter day disco done by the latter-day incarnation of the Supremes which was released in 1982 to capitalize on her RCA success but to no avail, "Sweet Summertime Livin'", a free form Jazz number that puts a new twist on the music of an era gone by circa 1940 which was produced by Hal Davis who produced "Love Hangover" and fellow-Supreme Mary Wilson' Motown solo debut and "Fire Don't Burn" a number originally intended for Thelma Houston. Also featured among the twelve-inch rarities is the "Diana Ross and The Supremes Medley of Hits" which was the first one of its kind to take snippets of an act's hits and string them together to ta dance beat. It would later inspire the "Stars on 45" single. Initially it was played in clubs and garnered some airplay but was never released as a single. Also, there are new revelations in the liner notes.Rick James was slated to produce cuts for Ross but James wanted to produce a full album and Motown honcho Berry Gordy was not sanctinoning this so a number written by James with which we are familiar entitled "I'm a Sucker for Your Love" would later go to Teena Marie as would select other cuts intended for Ross but given to Marie."
What's in a mix?
Christopher J. Benz | Melbourne, Australia | 05/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I would've given the original remastered cd of this album 4 stars; this version gets 5 and here's why... This album featuring a revitalized Diana Ross, abley assisted by the Chic Organisation (aka Nile Rodgers/Bernard Edwards) is a seminal, hard hitting dance/funk classic. It's a genuine crossover album drawing on tasty underground club rhetoric from the late 70's and still managing to hit the charts right between the eyes. It has no less than 3 A grade singles - 'I'm comin out', 'My old piano' and the extraordinary 'Upside Down', as well as 5 other steller support tracks - all very listenable. This release is notable for containing the original CHIC mix of the album - submitted to Motown as the final master before the record company decided to whisk it away to LA for a remix. The remix was extensive - it shortened tracks, rearranged structures of songs and opted for different vocal takes. I'm fairly cynical about director's cuts/alt mixes and so on, but I have to say, the inclusion of 2 mixes on this album is very, very interesting indeed, particularly if you are a fan of CHIC's earlier, darker dance tunes and their production work. So which mix is better?
Unlike other reviewers here I'd rather make that assessment track by track although I do agree that on the whole, it's probably a draw. It's certainly very close!
Let's take it apart:
UPSIDE DOWN - One of the most obvious differences on the LP, the Motown remix is easily my favourite because it goes for the jugular. It's a ballsy mix with Diana close miked and hissing and purring out the lyrics - the original mix has her dampened by reverb losing some of the excitement and crispness. The bass is higher in the CHIC mix (as you would expect) but I prefer the official releases razor sharb snare drums, cymbals and snappy bass.
TENDERNESS - Motown mix opts for a staggered introduction of instruments and riffs to create interest but I prefer the very typical CHIC treatment with the amped up bass and the hook that just keeps turning over.
FRIEND TO FRIEND - The CHIC mix is a revelation! Full of late nineties style guitar harmonics and effects, Diana's vocal becomes part of the musical landscape and the song is doubly improved. I never quite got the song on it's first release - the CHIC version has revealed it to be atmospheric, spiritual and very classy. Far superior to the released version.
I'M COMING OUT - Very different mixes but both have their advantages. On the whole the CHIC mix is a slow builder while Motown is crisp and commercially savvy. Perhaps more club-ready. But I like the cool, held back quality of the CHIC mix. 50/50 on this one.
HAVE FUN (AGAIN) - The CHIC mix is a blast. I think they just loved this track and Motown didn't get it. This is REALLY a CHIC track with Diana simply providing the classiest CHIC vocal you'll ever hear. The CHIC mix is full of another minute of riffing and dynamics that paints this picture the way is should be - as a groove assault. Forget the original mix.
MY OLD PIANO - These mixes are the opposite of the 'Upside Down' treatment! Motown's Diana sitting back in the mix atmospherily with reverb, CHIC's is more close miked. I think the Motown mix has more impact - it deletes a lot of rambling piano/guitar interplay which although fun, lessens the overall power of the tune. The dynamics and effects are much more urgent in the Motown version and this for me, is the guts of the groove. CHIC muddied their mix a little here.
NOW THAT YOU'RE GONE - The weakest track on the album. The CHIC mix wins here because the MOTOWN mix introduces tasteless, overstated breathing noises to try and add interest to this tune. It's understated and nice on the CHIC version without setting the world on fire.
GIVE UP - Subtle but I prefer the CHIC mix's gutsier attack on the guitar and bass. Once again an attempt to bring Diana to the front doesn't necessarily make for a better track - either mix is pretty damn enjoyable though.
In short If you want the 5 star mix, you'll have to cut and paste your own version but you'll definitely enjoy aspects of Nile and Bernard's original.
Terrific liner notes on this edition although NOT DETAILED ENOUGH (hence this review). Very funny story about Diana Ross not registering the gay reference in "I'm coming out". Good on CHIC for getting that one over the line.
The Second Disc in this collection is a compile of late 70's pseudo hits and misses by Diana that is far from essential but fun for the very occassional spin."