Her best album from the 90's
Constantin Declercq | 03/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album is pure delight. Three gems : the song «Take me higher» is what every dance song should be, «If you're not gonna love me right» is a down-tempo wonder and «I thought that we were still in love» is a poignant heartache tune. The album as a whole, showcasing every nuance of her so distintive voice, is pure emotion."
Diana Ross's 1995 studio entry - Soul, R&B, Hip Hop, Pop & J
Ian Phillips | Bolton, Lancashire, UK | 05/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In late 1995 soul music legend Diana Ross returned with her first studio project in over four years. Whilst not quite duplicating the commercial success she enjoyed in Britain with The Force Behind The Power (1991)album, it was still indeed an enduring success that rapidly swept into the U.K Top 10 Album Charts.
A series of producers are to be credited on the Take Me Higher album. These include Diana Ross herself, The Boom Brothers (a U.S Rap Group), Naranda Michael Walden (who also produced various work for another soul diva Whitney Houston), Rick Martinelli and Jon-John. Renowned producer Babyface puts his excellent production skills into full use on the more urban R&B/Hip Hop offerings (Swing It and Keep It Right There). Diana Ross obviously was wanting to hit the charts again as she once and reach that crucial younger generation that generally made up the bulk of record sales. Did she succeed? Well partially. The three singles extracted from this album sailed into the U.K Top 40 and enjoyed variable success across Europe (where she continues to be a mostly good seller).
The rip-roaring title track, Take Me Higher was inevitably lifted as the projects debut single. This fun, bouncy number was neatly blended into a striking transistion of Dance/R&B and Diana sounds utterly fantastic. The song is bursting out with energy and this proves to be the perfect vehicle for the modern-day Diana Ross sound. She had modernised her vocal approach and whilst not losing its original qualities, Diana does sound more hip and like a woman half her age (she was 51 when she recorded this album). I actually clearly remember seeing the video to this song continually played on MTV when I was 15 where my friends were also impressed with the song who previously hadn't taken much notice of her apart from whenever I played her (or rammed her down their throats as they used to say, ha. hey I was just trying to educate them about music).
Suddenly Diana Ross was hip and cool again and she successfully had re-invented herself. The accompanying video was also a dazzling affair. Many predicted this classic would go to No.1. Instead it struggled to No.32 on the U.K charts (America once again weren't interested in a new Diana Ross song) but soon after it became a popular club hit (and I loved dancing to it during my early clubbing days) and Take Me Higher is the one Diana Ross recording that i've heard sampled and re-mixed by so many different D.J's into House and Techno. Take Me Higher most certainly made an impact.
If You're Not Gonna Love Me Right was a much more urban R&B and exceedingly radio friendly number with its strong commercial vibe and contagious hooks. Nice musical arrangements here and Diana puts in a breathy, seamless vocal performance, oozing charisma and charm yet at the same time managing to sound sassy and sexy. When If You're Not Gonna Love Me Right was lifted as a single in the U.S however, it disppointingly failed to even crack the U.S Top 100 (from which she'd been absent since 1985).
This steadily leads into the aching, exotic ballad I Never Loved A Man Before which flows beautifully with divine Latin arrangements and Diana has ever proved herself the dynamic vocalist when tackling smooth, Soul-Jazz ballads such as I Never Loved A Man Before.
The album then abruptly swerves into the direction of the urban R&B market with the sublime, funky, grooving, Swing It which is just pure street! An edgy, effective Hip-Hop number where Dianas exuberant delivery oozes sensuality, sounding highly sexually charged at that.
Keep It Right There is simply beautifully mellow in its content. Spiralling rhythms and R&B flavoured arrangements give this late-night number an infectious feel. It is further ignited by Dianas ever-sensational vocal delivery.
Don't Stop is another track featuring Diana delivering a seductive, sexually charged performance and she is fantastic sounding in doing so. The beauty and soul in her voice oozes out on this urban number. Don't Stop also contains a very effective rap interlude from The Boom Brothers which gives this recording more range.
It's then an about turn and back into the ballads terriotry, mainly of the Adult Contemporary/soul variety. Her effective, razor-sharp delivery is stunningly beautiful on the fabulous and gloriously orchestrated I'm Gone. Diana is accompanied by sweeping strings and a gentle piano back drop which compliments her mesmerising and delicatley melting voal style. I'm Gone was lifted as a single in the U.K and jumped to No.36 (though deserved a much higher place). It was a perfect modern-day Diana Ross ballad.
Diana then proceeded to deliver a totally haunting, atmospheric, late-night Jazz number next with the startling, I Thought That We Were Still In Love which comes complete with an injection of Soul with a roaring saxphone played erratically throughout the recording which merley adds to the over-all dazzling effect.
You could argue that the ballads, Voice Of The Heart (a flop single in the U.S) and Only Love Can Conquer All are pure schmaltz but contrarily, Diana Ross is a singer who can lift considerably soppy ballads like these and make them inspirational and appealing to all age groups, any race, any gender, and that is what makes her such a special, unique talent. If I heard anyone else singing Voice Of The Heart, i'd probably run for cover with its sugary content but Diana delivers this in such a distinctive style that I find it hard to say anything bad about it. On the contrary people could also argue that both Voice Of The Heart and Only Love Can Conquer All are actually two very inspirational numbers. Either way I enjoy both of them and that really is purely down to Diana Ross!
Finally the Take Me Higher (1995) album is led to its grand finale and what a perfect way to end the album - a rip-roaring, modern dance version of Gloria Gaynors, I Will Survive. I Will Survive was something of a declaration to the critics that have snubbed her over the years and also something of an ode to her wide legion of gay male fans (which obviously includes myself) and the result was her biggest hit single in Britain in years with it quickly hitting No.14. I won't attempt to compare the Diana Ross version with Gloria Gaynors as there are such individual qualities of its own. Either way, Diana Ross certainly makes I Will Survive one of her own songs and its one she usually performs as a last number at her live concerts today.
Take Me Higher on the whole is a fantastic affair, bubbling in a mixture of styles with Soul/urban R&B/Dance & Jazz. The diverse range of sounds makes this one of the more spectacular latter-day studio albums in the Ross catologue. Sensational! So dim the lights, lie back with a nice bottle of red wine and enjoy the intoxicating sounds of Diana Ross.
Only Ms. Ross Can Conquer All!
Jurai's Heir | Denham Springs, LA, USA | 10/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There's not alot I know about this album, except for like every album Diana Ross does, she poors her heart & soul out. "Take Me Higher" features jazz, urban funk, R&B, pop and love ballads. Since "Diana", she's been have some hits & misses, mostly misses with albums until this one, which mostly contains solid work, full of songs that compilment each other. It's a very overlooked and somewhat underrated album. "Swing It"; "Too Many Nights" and "I'm So Happy (To See You Again)" only appear on the European editions of the album. "Take Me Higher" made #10 on UK albums chart, #38 on USA Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and #114 on The Billboard 200. Singles released from the were: "Take Me Higher"; "I Will Survive"; "If You're Not Gonna Love Me Right"; "I'm Gone" and "Voice Of The Heart"."