A Release From The RCA Years That Worked!
KRA | East End of LI | 06/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Of the years that Diana recorded for RCA, only the album prior to this one (Why Do Fools Fall In Love) cold be called a definitive hit. That is sad considering that Silk Electric was far more artistic in it's reach, not to mention the beautiful Andy Warhol Cover Portait.
"Muscles" was the hit off this album, and while it may not be a hit that most Ross fans think of first, it is a fun, quirky song, and it was something different for Ross, and taking risks can be a good thing. Other tracks worthy of "hit" status include; the Supreme's Sounding "So Close", the ballad "I Am Me", and the Disco-Rock fusion of "Fool For Your Love", a song that if promoted right could have been a huge crossover song for Ross, much in the way that "Hot Stuff" was for Donna Summer. "Muscles" did result in a Grammy nomination
for best R & B vocal performance female.
This album actually has 9 full tracks, the lisitng for "Turn Me Over", does not mention that all this is, is a very seductive sounding Diana asking you to turn the record over. A quick history lesson for the CD era, when we bought vinyl albums they had to be turned over to play the 2nd half.
It also needs to be noted that this album features several songs co-written by Ross. Any artist with as long a career as hers no doubt has stories to tell, and I would have loved to heard more.
Diana Ross's Second Album For RCA Records
Ian Phillips | Bolton, Lancashire, UK | 06/06/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Riding high on the success of her multi-million selling album, Why Do Fools Fall In Love (1981), her first project for RCA Records, Ross returned to the recording studios at the dawn of 1982 to self-produce another studio album (her contractual obligation was to deliver one album per year for RCA).
Ross was clearly enjoying experimenting and divulging her music into other genres. With Silk Electric (1982) she completely tried to shake off and escape the style that had made her famous. Ross was obviously trying to create a new, distinctive sound to keep up with the ever changing musical tastes of the 80's but as a result her music lost a lot of its fire on this album.
However Silk Electrics' premier single was something of a pop masterpiece. That track was of course the slinky, evocative Muscles written and produced by the all-time genius Michael Jackson who through the lyrics was seemingly trying to convey a womans sexual fantasies (or perharps his own?????). Admitedly Ross' vocal performance on Muscles is a little mushy and indistingushable. After all this was a lady that had given us magical classics like Ain't No Mountain High Enough, The Boss, Upside Down and I'm Coming Out. Still the startling musical arrangements give it the ignition it needs and Jacksons' distinctive vocals are gelled neatly and quite effectivley into the production making it over-all a dynamic recording and certainly a credible change in style for Ross.
Muscles enjoyed phenomenal cross-Atlantic success where the track jumped to No.15 in the U.K whilst rushing into the U.S Top 10. If only the rest of the album had been as bold and as adventurous as Muscles, Silk Electric would have been a whole lot better.
So Close is more vintage Diana Ross deeming it one of the best tracks on Silk Electric. The musical arrangements encapsulates a distinctley 1960's feel that is given a sharp, contemporary twist. Ross' exuberant delivery is crystal clear and evocative. Though So Close sounded like a sure-fire smash hit the track only struggled into the lower reaches on both the U.K and U.S Top 50 charts.
Still In Love contains a touching performance from Ross amongst the schmaltzy, familiar arrangements whilst more startling than ever is her stab at (of all things) heavy metal on the rocking Fool For Your Love. This was a commendable and brave experiment on Ross' part but her voice sounds almost lost in the mix (though thankfully she has never delved into this genre again).
Turn Me Over is a pointless inclusion to the CD mastered version of Silk Electric as it was merely an odd, multi-layered interlude with Ross' voice telling you to turn the LP over to side 2. Quite!
The easy-going Who is one of my own personal favourite tracks on the album as this track benefits from restrained production and that customary breathy, seamless vocal style of Ross. Love Lies is a more creative though lacklustre effort where Ross interestingly provides her own backing vocals but the over-produced In Your Arms, a sickly-sweet ballad will make you just want to reach for the sick bucket!
The opening arrangements on Anywhere You Run To sounds like its come straight off a theme tune for some corny American soap opera but one of the other highlights is served with the final number on the number, I Am Me. I Am Me had been written by Ross and Janie Bradford (songwriter for Motown) way back in the early 60's when Ross was still with The Supremes. I Am Me is something of a personal anthem by Ross and is made compelling from its striking reggae-styled arrangements that gives the track more of a soulful edge not least aided by Ross' impeccable performance.
All in all, Silk Electric (1982) is an ambitious project on Ross' part but overly is disappointing. Some of the tracks ignite (Muscles, So Close, Who, I Am Me) whilst the remainder ranges from the adventurous if not failed experiments (Fool For Your Love and Love Lies) to merley routine productions that are highly glossed over (Still In Love, In Your Arms and Anywhere You Run To). This album is strictly for die-hard completists only!
Regardless of Silk Electric being one of Ross' least interesting albums it became a big seller flying into the U.K and U.S Top 40 album charts and became a Gold seller.
(The indigo-coloured front cover featured a portrait of Ross done by the late Andy Warhol who oddly painted Ross' face white???)
Ross on form, but still looking for another 'Upside Down'
bobby morrow | United Kingdom | 08/11/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This 1982 release found Diana continuing to try and build on the success garnered by her excellent 'diana' set from two years before. It's not a bad album at all either. Obviously the best track is the lead single, the Michael Jackson penned 'Muscles' a sensual groove that really suited Ms Ross. At this time, of course, all the main pop gals were getting in touch with their 'raunchier' sides and this track followed Sheena's 'Sugar Walls' and Olivia's 'Physical' into the top 10.
Diana has a number of co-writes on the album including the lovely do-woppy 'So Close', the reggae tinged closer, 'I Am Me' and the rather unpleasant shrill rocker, 'Fool For Your Love'.
Fans of 70's glam rock will spot Barry (Dancin' On A Saturday Night) Blue's name on 'Why', the sparkling pop gem that opened side 2 on the vinyl release and the set is rounded out with a couple of decent ballads in 'Love Lies' and the Michael Masser co-write, 'In Your Arms'.
'Silk Electric' did well on it's release but like 1981's 'Why Do Fools Fall In Love' and 1983's 'Ross' (another worthy purchase), it didn't really have that massive stand-out single to push the album (though 'Muscles' does it's best!)
The CD version of this and other 80's Ross releases had been long out of print until a reissue in Japan in 2005. They are quite 'soft' sounding and probably haven't been remastered but they do sound good (if you turn the volume and bass up.) If you seek out this import, take a listen to the aforementioned 'Ross' (1983) and 'Swept Away' (1984) albums too if you can."