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  1. #1

    1981 - would a different label have made a difference?

    in Randy's book he mentions how several labels made strong offers to Diana in 81:

    Neil Bogart offered $15M to sign with Boardwalk

    David Geffen offered $15M to sign with Geffen

    Polygram also made a substantial offer

    at RCA, Diana demanded total control yet she wasn't really equipped to handle things. and the RCA execs were too deferential to stand up to her. and eventually both sides grew to dislike one another

    did these other labels have execs or producers that might have made a difference? I'm just not as familiar with each of these other labels

    also where was Clive Davis at this time - was Arista ever a contender for her?

  2. #2
    I think executives like Neil Bogart and David Geffen would have requested more input into Diana's recordings for their labels. I recall reading how Geffen actually canned Donna Summer's intended second album for his label because he wasn't pleased with it and then enlisted Quincy Jones to produce a new one for her.

    I believe Clive Davis would have done the same. But in 1981, Clive had both Aretha and Dionne to keep on the charts. It might have been too much to add another diva to his list.

    I don't think RCA had that type of figurehead on deck. And at that point, creative control probably wasn't something Diana wanted to give up. I think she might have even been quoted as saying as much around this time.
    Last edited by reese; 10-19-2020 at 10:57 AM.

  3. #3
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    RCA + Diana Ross = Malignant Cancer

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by reese View Post
    I think executives like Neil Bogart and David Geffen would have requested more input into Diana's recordings for their labels. I recall reading how Geffen actually canned Donna Summer's intended second album for his label because he wasn't pleased with it and then enlisted Quincy Jones to produce a new one for her.

    I believe Clive Davis would have done the same. But in 1981, Clive had both Aretha and Dionne to keep on the charts. It might have been too much to add another diva to his list.

    I don't think RCA had that type of figurehead on deck. And at that point, creative control probably wasn't something Diana wanted to give up. I think she might have even been quoted as saying as much around this time.
    interesting! didn't know about Clive, Aretha and Dionne. you're right. Diana would not have worked there

  5. #5
    Diana Ross' song "I Am Me" explains it all. For me as a fan, every album is still a listening adventure. I do especially like "Summertime". Was it released as a single song? My favorite albums of all remain, film soundtrack, "Lady Sings The Blues" and "Touch Me in the Morning".

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    in Randy's book he mentions how several labels made strong offers to Diana in 81:

    Neil Bogart offered $15M to sign with Boardwalk

    David Geffen offered $15M to sign with Geffen

    Polygram also made a substantial offer

    at RCA, Diana demanded total control yet she wasn't really equipped to handle things. and the RCA execs were too deferential to stand up to her. and eventually both sides grew to dislike one another

    did these other labels have execs or producers that might have made a difference? I'm just not as familiar with each of these other labels

    also where was Clive Davis at this time - was Arista ever a contender for her?
    I do not believe Clive Davis ever officially approached her to join the Arista roster. He already had three needy divas in Aretha, Dionne and Phyllis Hyman to please as well as the less needy but wonderfully talented Angela Bofill. Diana would not have appreciated all those Diva's competing with her for Clive's attention. She always wants to be Queen Bee. Of course a certain Whitney Houston would also later add to the competition at poor Phyllis's expense. It would never have worked, but he did try to sign her up to his fledgling J label in the noughties. Strangely enough she resisted his advances.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by reese View Post
    I think executives like Neil Bogart and David Geffen would have requested more input into Diana's recordings for their labels. I recall reading how Geffen actually canned Donna Summer's intended second album for his label because he wasn't pleased with it and then enlisted Quincy Jones to produce a new one for her.

    I believe Clive Davis would have done the same. But in 1981, Clive had both Aretha and Dionne to keep on the charts. It might have been too much to add another diva to his list.

    I don't think RCA had that type of figurehead on deck. And at that point, creative control probably wasn't something Diana wanted to give up. I think she might have even been quoted as saying as much around this time.
    Quite correct. Diana would not have been given the free reign she demanded at RCA.That could only have been a good thing in my opinion. We would have been treated to better quality albums.
    Can you imagine the likes of Clive Davis, Neil Bogart and David Geffen giving the green light to release garbage like Why do Fools and Silk Electric? No.Neither can i.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebrock View Post
    Quite correct. Diana would not have been given the free reign she demanded at RCA.That could only have been a good thing in my opinion. We would have been treated to better quality albums.
    Can you imagine the likes of Clive Davis, Neil Bogart and David Geffen giving the green light to release garbage like Why do Fools and Silk Electric? No.Neither can i.
    nor would Clive ever have allowed the hideous Eaten Alive to be released lol

    so basically half (or more lol) of her RCA output wouldn't have made it lol

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    nor would Clive ever have allowed the hideous Eaten Alive to be released lol

    so basically half (or more lol) of her RCA output wouldn't have made it lol
    Clive is a friend of Barry Gibb's so i think he would have approved the project. He would probably have insisted on a few tweaks here and there, and he would hopefully have binned the title track, or at the very least insisted upon a radical remix.

  10. #10
    I couldn't see Diana being with another label. She was so omnipresent at Motown that when she left, it seemed like the company went with it... I always wondered what would've happened had she demanded Berry give her a better contract but I guess when a label stays in the red, you have no choice but to leave?

  11. #11
    I believe a different label with a stronger head would have made some difference.

    Arista had too many hot headed females but if they coped with Aretha Franklin, they probably could have coped with Diana - but those two on the same label would make no sense.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Circa 1824 View Post
    RCA + Diana Ross = Malignant Cancer
    What a horrible description. However disappointing the RCA years may have been i find your comparison with cancer to be in very bad taste. There is no need to stoop so low to make your point. Not nice.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Circa 1824 View Post
    RCA + Diana Ross = Malignant Cancer
    What a vile statement.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebrock View Post
    Quite correct. Diana would not have been given the free reign she demanded at RCA.That could only have been a good thing in my opinion. We would have been treated to better quality albums.
    Can you imagine the likes of Clive Davis, Neil Bogart and David Geffen giving the green light to release garbage like Why do Fools and Silk Electric? No.Neither can i.
    In my opinion the Clive Davis string of karaoke lps (I'm still waiting for 'Pia Zadora Sings The Best of Anita Bryant') are far, far worse and more artistically bereft lps! That Aretha's last studio lp was the dismal 'Diva' covers makes me sad.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Roberta75 View Post
    What a vile statement.
    There are some vile posters on this forum, that's for sure.

  16. #16
    to bring us back to the original question, what about the other labels then? Sounds like Clive and Arista were never even in the mix. So what about Geffen or Broadwalk or Polydor?

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Roberta75 View Post
    What a vile statement.
    I agree. Such a bad statement. But I happen to love the RCA years.

  18. #18
    I don't think the RCA years were all that bad - just maybe don't measure up to classics like More Hits by the Supremes, diana, and Lady Sings the Blues. I liked Eaten Alive, Fools and Red Hot R & B. Songs like Summertime, how can that not be seen as superlative. There were lots of strong cuts on Eaten Alive - just not the first single. And the song, Why Do Fools, while not amongst my favorites, is a "must sing" for Diana concerts - the average joe loves that.

  19. #19
    [QUOTE=jobeterob;594477]I don't think the RCA years were all that bad - just maybe don't measure up to classics like More Hits by the Supremes, diana, and Lady Sings the Blues. I liked Eaten Alive, Fools and Red Hot R & B. Songs like Summertime, how can that not be seen as superlative. There were lots of strong cuts on Eaten Alive - just not the first single. And the song, Why Do Fools, while not amongst my favorites, is a "must sing" for Diana concerts - the average joe loves that.[/QUOTE

    Dianaís sales began to slip as the eighties progressed, but Iím not convinced a different label would have made much difference. The changes in the music industry would have still occurred along with Dianaís sound needing to evolve with the times. She still would have ďaged outĒ of the pop market just as most of her peers had. The introductions of MTV, Madonna and Whitney and the publications of Those Books would still have occurred. The albums may have been stronger, but may not have garnered stronger sales results.

  20. #20
    Maybe Diana bluffed tremendously well, and at RCA, Bob Summer thought he had signed an artist like Barbra Streisand. It was 1981, Diana had just had a lot of hits, from R&B to symphonic ballads.


    At Geffen, her fate would have been disastrous. Geffen confessed that he couldn't promote Donna Summer on rock radio, where he wanted her to go. With Diana, it would have been the same.

  21. #21
    I think if Diana was not allowed to grow by this time she may have ended up going back home to raise her family or something. I think she had outgrown Berry Gordy so to speak and wanted to grow as Diana Ross thinks not Diana Ross robot. I remember Gordy saying something to the fact that he could not compete with the other offer and didn't have the money.

    Let's think about this for a moment when she left she was given like $200,000 for her work as a Supreme and as a solo. Remember now she paid her share for gowns, recording studio time, musicians, travel etc. By the way how many of those gowns did she keep ? 3 maybe ? Same deal with Florence but let's move on.

    She wanted creative control and production rights from what I remember. She was hot off her last singles so most companies would have made an offer to collect some of that stardust. She was no longer Motown's puppet as people around her were probably saying. She had to know if she could do it and I get that. None of those companies were going to make it any better it had to come from within her and what she wanted to express.

    I enjoyed it because it was Diana telling us this is Diana. I always thought Dirty Looks had a deeper meaning.
    Last edited by captainjames; 10-21-2020 at 02:38 AM.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by captainjames View Post
    I think if Diana was not allowed to grow by this time she may have ended up going back home to raise her family or something. I think she had outgrown Berry Gordy so to speak and wanted to grow as Diana Ross thinks not Diana Ross robot. I remember Gordy saying something to the fact that he could not compete with the other offer and didn't have the money.

    She wanted creative control and production rights from what I remember. She was hot off her last singles so most companies would have made an offer to collect some of that stardust. She was no longer Motown's puppet as people around her were probably saying. She had to know if she could do it and I get that. None of those companies were going to make it any better it had to come from within her and what she wanted to express.

    I enjoyed it because it was Diana telling us this is Diana. I always thought Dirty Looks had a deeper meaning.
    I really canít imagine Diana would have hung up her heels at that point in time no matter what her position She was at the peak of her popularity and was keen to make the Josephine Baker movie. Perhaps tighter reigns on creative control from another record label might have made for better quality albums that were worthy of her talents. Financially she of course did the right thing.
    I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall to hear the reaction of RCA execs upon hearing those self produced efforts for the first time.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Ollie9 View Post
    I really canít imagine Diana would have hung up her heels at that point in time no matter what her position She was at the peak of her popularity and was keen to make the Josephine Baker movie. Perhaps tighter reigns on creative control from another record label might have made for better quality albums that were worthy of her talents. Financially she of course did the right thing.
    I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall to hear the reaction of RCA execs upon hearing those self produced efforts for the first time.
    Me too Ollie! I was told of the reaction from EMI UK upon receiving the finished albums of Fools and Silk Electric. To say they were disappointed is something of an understatement. A very good friend of mine who worked there told me of the crushing disappointment throughout the Company, but they insist they did their utmost to make the best of a bad situation. I would have made some different decisions had i been in charge but it is true to say you cannot polish a turd so we cannot be too harsh on them!

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Ollie9 View Post
    I really can’t imagine Diana would have hung up her heels at that point in time no matter what her position She was at the peak of her popularity and was keen to make the Josephine Baker movie. Perhaps tighter reigns on creative control from another record label might have made for better quality albums that were worthy of her talents. Financially she of course did the right thing.
    I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall to hear the reaction of RCA execs upon hearing those self produced efforts for the first time.
    I agree Ollie. If Diana were ever going to give music up and focus on something else, it would've been right before the Supremes made it big. Once she became a singing sensation, she wasn't giving that up. Only other scenario I could see is if she felt being at home with her children 24/7 for one reason or another was necessary. At that point I think she would've found someway to do that because it appears she prioritized her children and worked her career around them.

    Another label would've made a huge difference. For whatever reason RCA was willing to put up with Diana's crap. Surely there were other labels who would've found a way to ensure that Diana made good on that 20 million dollar return investment. As was pointed out in another thread, it's the music business, so what good business did it make to hand this lady 20 million and then allow her to carve out an inferior career chapter at the new label compared to what she accomplished at Motown? A strong label head would've squashed at least half- and I'm being generous to Diana by saying half- of Diana's output at RCA.

    I also agree with Captain's point about Diana needing to stretch her wings. It's the same thing I say about Mary Wilson. These ladies were under the umbrella of Motown and "Daddy" Gordy since they were 16 years old. At 30 something, they are bound to desire something different, something more. They are going to want to venture out and see what they can do. For Diana, that growth first came with leaving the Supremes and making it. Next, it was time to take over her own career, be her own woman. Because of their personal relationship, Gordy should've understood this.

    Maybe Gordy couldn't match the offers Diana was getting, but had he sat down with her, offered her as much money as he could get as close to the other offers, agreed to hand over any and all business obligations that Motown still controlled for this nearly 40 year old woman and gave in to her desire to have more creative control, she probably would've stayed. And honestly, I like quite a bit of Motown's 80s output, and feel that Diana could've been as relevant as long as Stevie was. Diana remixing that Chic album shows that she wasn't completely clueless to the production side of music, but with a label like Motown hovering, I think we would've been spared a ton of crap. And some of the RCA cuts that were good to great, may have been even better.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnyB View Post
    Diana’s sales began to slip as the eighties progressed, but I’m not convinced a different label would have made much difference. The changes in the music industry would have still occurred along with Diana’s sound needing to evolve with the times. She still would have “aged out” of the pop market just as most of her peers had. The introductions of MTV, Madonna and Whitney and the publications of Those Books would still have occurred. The albums may have been stronger, but may not have garnered stronger sales results.
    I disagree. With actual good music, maybe some tweaks to the image, I think the momentum of the early 80s could've been prolonged throughout the entire decade. However, back to Captain's suggestion that Diana would've hung it up, I think had she stared in the face a reality where music was not going to keep her on top, she would've focused on movies and maybe even fashion. Perhaps the big mistake was Diana returning to Motown. Maybe at that point she should've made acting her job priority and maybe do an album every few years, perhaps the soundtrack to one of her movies, or a specialty project like Stolen Moments.

  26. #26
    [QUOTE=JohnnyB;594482]
    Quote Originally Posted by jobeterob View Post
    I don't think the RCA years were all that bad - just maybe don't measure up to classics like More Hits by the Supremes, diana, and Lady Sings the Blues. I liked Eaten Alive, Fools and Red Hot R & B. Songs like Summertime, how can that not be seen as superlative. There were lots of strong cuts on Eaten Alive - just not the first single. And the song, Why Do Fools, while not amongst my favorites, is a "must sing" for Diana concerts - the average joe loves that.[/QUOTE

    Diana’s sales began to slip as the eighties progressed, but I’m not convinced a different label would have made much difference. The changes in the music industry would have still occurred along with Diana’s sound needing to evolve with the times. She still would have “aged out” of the pop market just as most of her peers had. The introductions of MTV, Madonna and Whitney and the publications of Those Books would still have occurred. The albums may have been stronger, but may not have garnered stronger sales results.
    Diana, Smokey, Lionel, Stevie all declined as the 80s went on. very very very few artists or acts can maintain broad public interest and appeal for multiple decades (and speaking about the US audience). If someone was 15 in 1965 and 25 in 1975, they would still be strong candidates for buying the artist's product. if they had a younger sibling, they could extend that for another 5 - 10 years simply because the younger sibling is often influenced by the older.

    but by 85, that 60s era teenage is now 35 and could have a 10 or 12 year old child themselves! kids are not typically interested in following musicians that their PARENTS listened to. Mega stars can sometimes swing a few additional years. but they fade as tastes change

    Madonna struck it big at the end of 84 and into 85. huge hits followed through the 90s and into the early 00s. Music sold 11 million. but hard candy sold 4 million. MDNA sold less.

    Mariah - huge in the late 80s, 90s and into 00s but not so today.

    Justin, Beyonce, Whitney, ARetha, Cher and many many more tend to follow the same pattern.

  27. #27
    In a word: No.

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebrock View Post
    Me too Ollie! I was told of the reaction from EMI UK upon receiving the finished albums of Fools and Silk Electric. To say they were disappointed is something of an understatement. A very good friend of mine who worked there told me of the crushing disappointment throughout the Company, but they insist they did their utmost to make the best of a bad situation. I would have made some different decisions had i been in charge but it is true to say you cannot polish a turd so we cannot be too harsh on them!
    I can well imagine. I’m curious as to what they did to make the best of a bad situation lol. “Why Do Fools” and “Mirror Mirror saved the day day I guess. The down side being that the record company then allowed her another shot at producing with even worse results.

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post

    Another label would've made a huge difference. For whatever reason RCA was willing to put up with Diana's crap. Surely there were other labels who would've found a way to ensure that Diana made good on that 20 million dollar return investment. As was pointed out in another thread, it's the music business, so what good business did it make to hand this lady 20 million and then allow her to carve out an inferior career chapter at the new label compared to what she accomplished at Motown? A strong label head would've squashed at least half- and I'm being generous to Diana by saying half- of Diana's output at RCA

    Maybe Gordy couldn't match the offers Diana was getting, but had he sat down with her, offered her as much money as he could get as close to the other offers, agreed to hand over any and all business obligations that Motown still controlled for this nearly 40 year old woman and gave in to her desire to have more creative control, she probably would've stayed. And honestly, I like quite a bit of Motown's 80s output, and feel that Diana could've been as relevant as long as Stevie was. Diana remixing that Chic album shows that she wasn't completely clueless to the production side of music, but with a label like Motown hovering, I think we would've been spared a ton of crap. And some of the RCA cuts that were good to great, may have been even better.
    What might have been huh. Starting with ‘The Boss’, it appeared Diana enjoyed a fair amount of freedom at Motown regarding who was to produce her records and what songs she wanted to sing. The company handed her complete freedom and control when she chose to remix the entire ‘diana’ album which they originally had doubts about. I also think this was proved when she vetoed any further Masser productions for the ‘To Love Again’ set.
    Perhaps at the end of the day it more to do with money then anything else.
    God only knows what Motown would have made of WDFFIL.

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Ollie9 View Post
    What might have been huh. Starting with ‘The Boss’, it appeared Diana enjoyed a fair amount of freedom at Motown regarding who was to produce her records and what songs she wanted to sing. The company handed her complete freedom and control when she chose to remix the entire ‘diana’ album which they originally had doubts about. I also think this was proved when she vetoed any further Masser productions for the ‘To Love Again’ set.
    Perhaps at the end of the day it more to do with money then anything else.
    God only knows what Motown would have made of WDFFIL.
    Much as i dislike WDFFIL Berry did sanction the release of Last time i saw him which i regard as her weakest and most uneven Motown album. Many of the outtakes were stronger than the released album. Whatever possessed Berry to press ahead with such an underwhelming album especially when the infinitely superior Touch me in the Morning had other potential singles yet was basically abandoned to make way for LTISH and Diana and Marvin. LTISH should have at the very least been delayed for at least six months. We had a long wait for the Black album so it would have made sense to have spaced the releases out better.
    Diana did seize control of her career towards the end of her Motown tenure, but it was financial security that she desired, and Motown could not or as Diana claimed would not enter a bidding war for her services. Money trumped artistic integrity.

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    I agree Ollie. If Diana were ever going to give music up and focus on something else, it would've been right before the Supremes made it big. Once she became a singing sensation, she wasn't giving that up. Only other scenario I could see is if she felt being at home with her children 24/7 for one reason or another was necessary. At that point I think she would've found someway to do that because it appears she prioritized her children and worked her career around them.

    Another label would've made a huge difference. For whatever reason RCA was willing to put up with Diana's crap. Surely there were other labels who would've found a way to ensure that Diana made good on that 20 million dollar return investment. As was pointed out in another thread, it's the music business, so what good business did it make to hand this lady 20 million and then allow her to carve out an inferior career chapter at the new label compared to what she accomplished at Motown? A strong label head would've squashed at least half- and I'm being generous to Diana by saying half- of Diana's output at RCA.

    I also agree with Captain's point about Diana needing to stretch her wings. It's the same thing I say about Mary Wilson. These ladies were under the umbrella of Motown and "Daddy" Gordy since they were 16 years old. At 30 something, they are bound to desire something different, something more. They are going to want to venture out and see what they can do. For Diana, that growth first came with leaving the Supremes and making it. Next, it was time to take over her own career, be her own woman. Because of their personal relationship, Gordy should've understood this.

    Maybe Gordy couldn't match the offers Diana was getting, but had he sat down with her, offered her as much money as he could get as close to the other offers, agreed to hand over any and all business obligations that Motown still controlled for this nearly 40 year old woman and gave in to her desire to have more creative control, she probably would've stayed. And honestly, I like quite a bit of Motown's 80s output, and feel that Diana could've been as relevant as long as Stevie was. Diana remixing that Chic album shows that she wasn't completely clueless to the production side of music, but with a label like Motown hovering, I think we would've been spared a ton of crap. And some of the RCA cuts that were good to great, may have been even better.
    her deal was 20+ million for 7 years, to deliver one album per year. RCA to control exploitation for the first 5 releases with no creative input whatsoever in any aspect of the product itself. She did, give in to their begging for a solo Endless Love. Not my fave, but it surely helped it go platinum. In short, their hands were tied, but they did manage one coup: refusal to release Diana LIVE In Central Park. She delivered it, they refused it, and she put together Swept Away. Thatís why only 6 albums. Ross was wise enough not to let 1984 go by without product as Ross 83 - was a qualified mega-failure considering the Global Central PArk exposure. What a hot mess that thing was! Folks may dig it now, but it was just awful for the radio at the time.

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebrock View Post
    Much as i dislike WDFFIL Berry did sanction the release of Last time i saw him which i regard as her weakest and most uneven Motown album. Many of the outtakes were stronger than the released album. Whatever possessed Berry to press ahead with such an underwhelming album especially when the infinitely superior Touch me in the Morning had other potential singles yet was basically abandoned to make way for LTISH and Diana and Marvin. LTISH should have at the very least been delayed for at least six months. We had a long wait for the Black album so it would have made sense to have spaced the releases out better.
    Diana did seize control of her career towards the end of her Motown tenure, but it was financial security that she desired, and Motown could not or as Diana claimed would not enter a bidding war for her services. Money trumped artistic integrity.
    I agree with your read on LTISH - what a disappointment. Gordy shelved WeNeed You Because he was so anal about following up a big hit from the same producer, so anal that he took a Dixie land novelty song and followed up a torchy pop ballad like touch me in the morning. It’s been 47 years and I’m still angry every time I think about it. I remember the first time I heard the album, my heart sank when I heard the title cut and for the next 25 minutes nothing that sounded even remotely like a hit. From the sublime to the ridiculous in five months.

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Ollie9 View Post
    I can well imagine. I’m curious as to what they did to make the best of a bad situation lol. “Why Do Fools” and “Mirror Mirror saved the day day I guess. The down side being that the record company then allowed her another shot at producing with even worse results.
    i think SE came about because Why sold very very well. I doubt that the RCA execs were all that worried about "waxing a masterpiece" as opposed to simply selling records.

    the heavy-duty fan reaction to Why is probably stronger than the execs. it was released in the fall, in plenty of time for the holiday sales blitz. the single was released around the same time and flew up the charts.

    based on this success, i think they were ok with moving ahead with SE. although the final result is definitely weaker. but at that point they needed the release

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMotownManiac View Post
    I agree with your read on LTISH - what a disappointment. Gordy shelved WeNeed You Because he was so anal about following up a big hit from the same producer, so anal that he took a Dixie land novelty song and followed up a torchy pop ballad like touch me in the morning. It’s been 47 years and I’m still angry every time I think about it. I remember the first time I heard the album, my heart sank when I heard the title cut and for the next 25 minutes nothing that sounded even remotely like a hit. From the sublime to the ridiculous in five months.
    TMITM was better exploited in the UK where All of my life became a top 10 hit. We need you or I won't last a day without you could have followed it but Motown USA wanted them to concentrate on LTISH. Utter madness.

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebrock View Post
    Much as i dislike WDFFIL Berry did sanction the release of Last time i saw him which i regard as her weakest and most uneven Motown album. Many of the outtakes were stronger than the released album. Whatever possessed Berry to press ahead with such an underwhelming album especially when the infinitely superior Touch me in the Morning had other potential singles yet was basically abandoned to make way for LTISH and Diana and Marvin. LTISH should have at the very least been delayed for at least six months. We had a long wait for the Black album so it would have made sense to have spaced the releases out better.
    Diana did seize control of her career towards the end of her Motown tenure, but it was financial security that she desired, and Motown could not or as Diana claimed would not enter a bidding war for her services. Money trumped artistic integrity.
    when i first read your post, i though WDFFIL was Where Did Our Love Go! lololol i was like - what the hell!?!?

    I do like the song, Last Time but agree there was MUCH untapped potential on the Touch Me album. they should have gone with at least a 2nd, if not a 3rd, single

    the duet album is lackluster across the board. a decent album for an average singer but you have f-ing DIANA ROSS and MARVIN GAYE here!!!! both coming off of major hit singles and lps (Touch Me and Let's Get It On). the project should have been much much better

    the song Last Time could been easily held for post-duets. it's funny, catchy, lightweight. excellent for radio and just feels good. is it a career milestone - not of course not. But it and a collection of the various released & canned tracks from this time, could make up an enjoyable lp. Let Masser and Miller handle the majority of the tracks and you have a solid album. the Gaudio ones are ok but so out of place, as are the Baby tracks.

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebrock View Post
    TMITM was better exploited in the UK where All of my life became a top 10 hit. We need you or I won't last a day without you could have followed it but Motown USA wanted them to concentrate on LTISH. Utter madness.
    agreed - get a second single out of the album. and i would have released the To The Baby lp too. of course that would have required some rejiggering of tracks between the two sets but you could have had a lovely TMITM album sans the Baby tracks (it's just Brown Baby, Imagine and Save) and used up a few more Blue sessions or even pull in No One's Gonna be a Fool which was her first Masser recording. that would have fit and actually given a bit more variety in tracks too.

  37. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebrock View Post
    TMITM was better exploited in the UK where All of my life became a top 10 hit. We need you or I won't last a day without you could have followed it but Motown USA wanted them to concentrate on LTISH. Utter madness.
    I think leave a little room, after we need you and all of my life would have hit. However, Iíd have been SO tempted to release a 4:49 edit of brown baby/save the children and push it hard after the side one ballads had been exhausted. Iíve always felt Brown baby would have been an interesting experiment worth the effort. It certainly would have hit on the black chart and easy listening.

  38. #38
    Why would Geffen complain that he couldn't promote Donna Summer on "rock radio?" Why would he need to do that? Summer was the biggest female singer of the 70's/early 80's, she had #1 hits on the pop, dance, black and AC charts. She needed more? Sounds to me like Garth Brooks complaining he wasn't on the dance charts. When Donna was huge, disco had taken over all or most of the pop charts and older, traditionally rock artists like Rod Stewart, Kiss and even The Stones started making dance music. Summer never made any rock records anyway so what was there to promote?

  39. #39
    it was only a deal with RCA in some territories - in the UK she was still signed to EMI..it was a clever deal - she had two of the biggest labels promoting her across the globe..I personally love lots of stuff from the 80s era ..the shadow cast by her Motown catalog was always going to loom large

  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by BobbyC View Post
    Why would Geffen complain that he couldn't promote Donna Summer on "rock radio?" Why would he need to do that? Summer was the biggest female singer of the 70's/early 80's, she had #1 hits on the pop, dance, black and AC charts. She needed more? Sounds to me like Garth Brooks complaining he wasn't on the dance charts. When Donna was huge, disco had taken over all or most of the pop charts and older, traditionally rock artists like Rod Stewart, Kiss and even The Stones started making dance music. Summer never made any rock records anyway so what was there to promote?
    The Wanderer was Donna's first album for Geffen in 1980 and it has a rock-sound to it (The Wanderer, Cold Love, Stop Me, Nightlife etc), which is what the label wanted from her. By 1980, the popularity of disco and dance music had fallen significantly and rock/new wave was where radio and the industry was heading, so Geffen's comment does not surprise me. She was unfortunately fighting an uphill battle almost the entire time she was on his label.
    Last edited by carlo; 11-11-2020 at 10:48 AM.

  41. #41
    Diana was furious Geffen finacially backed "Dream Girls" stage show..she told Andy Warhol it was a betrayal...all label heads ultimatley have to answer to the shareholders I dont think Geffen would have agreed to the EMI/Capitol joint distribution deal he is notorious for causing artist feuds with other labels or managers (Joni Mitchell,Michael Jackson and Madonna for starters) if Diana had signed with him his investment a yr later in "that show" would have soured things badly..one reason Ross chose RCA was she had no personal friendships or connections with ts staff - Diana told Warhol her and Geffen were "nearly intimates" (whatever that means) she at the time was dating one of Cher's ex boyfriend another as The Geffen head may have made her resist the offer she was good friends at the time with Cher so might of known of chers trials and business strife when Geffen freed her of Sonny Bono's control..who knows

  42. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by carlo View Post
    The Wanderer was Donna's first album for Geffen in 1980 and it has a rock-sound to it (The Wanderer, Cold Love, Stop Me, Nightlife etc), which is what the label wanted from her. By 1980, the popularity of disco and dance music had fallen significantly and rock/new wave was where radio and the industry was heading, so Geffen's comment does not surprise me. She was unfortunately fighting an uphill battle almost the entire time she was on his label.
    even prior to The Wanderer, Summer was pushing into a more rock and roll sound. The Bad Girls album is a prime example of this. while still disco, it definitely had r&r influences

  43. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by Ollie9 View Post
    What might have been huh. Starting with ‘The Boss’, it appeared Diana enjoyed a fair amount of freedom at Motown regarding who was to produce her records and what songs she wanted to sing. The company handed her complete freedom and control when she chose to remix the entire ‘diana’ album which they originally had doubts about. I also think this was proved when she vetoed any further Masser productions for the ‘To Love Again’ set.
    Perhaps at the end of the day it more to do with money then anything else.
    God only knows what Motown would have made of WDFFIL.
    I suspect Motown's "Fools" would've been far more funkier than the karaoke crap that ended up at RCA. I think I might deem "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" to be Diana's worst single ever, even worst than "Pieces Of Ice".

  44. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMotownManiac View Post
    her deal was 20+ million for 7 years, to deliver one album per year. RCA to control exploitation for the first 5 releases with no creative input whatsoever in any aspect of the product itself. She did, give in to their begging for a solo Endless Love. Not my fave, but it surely helped it go platinum. In short, their hands were tied, but they did manage one coup: refusal to release Diana LIVE In Central Park. She delivered it, they refused it, and she put together Swept Away. That’s why only 6 albums. Ross was wise enough not to let 1984 go by without product as Ross 83 - was a qualified mega-failure considering the Global Central PArk exposure. What a hot mess that thing was! Folks may dig it now, but it was just awful for the radio at the time.
    But that just goes to show that RCA leadership was apparently on a constant 80s coke binge. The first day of Central Park has gone down in music and television history. I'm still confused about what it was with the second day that was a downer. Yet still, Diana's Central Park concert was a huge deal. I think it possible that it could've sold very well, so why veto that?

  45. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    But that just goes to show that RCA leadership was apparently on a constant 80s coke binge. The first day of Central Park has gone down in music and television history. I'm still confused about what it was with the second day that was a downer. Yet still, Diana's Central Park concert was a huge deal. I think it possible that it could've sold very well, so why veto that?
    I have to admit that I agree with RCA on this one. There are things that work visually but on audio, not so much. IMO, there were many moments when the concert dragged, in particular the LADY SINGS THE BLUES segment and the segment after the first costume change. There were quite a few moments where Diana wasn't singing or was dancing around instead of singing.

    If it were released as an album, I think it would need some heavy editing. Not having heard what Diana presented to RCA, she might not have done much of that. If nothing else, I think Diana should have put out a live version of RIBBON IN THE SKY. To me, that along with ENDLESS LOVE was her best vocal performance of the day.

    Or maybe if she had taken highlights from the second day and released it as an album along with some new studio sides. There were rumors that Ashford & Simpson were producing some sides for this.
    Last edited by reese; 11-11-2020 at 02:02 PM.

  46. #46
    Years ago on another forum, I recall a conversation about RCA. I think someone wrote a book, possibly an artist. They mentioned the big deals RCA did at that time and how after the guy responsible for the deals was gone, the higher ups pretty much sabotaged the artists by not promoting them. For some reason Iím thinking it was Kenny Rogers. Can anyone confirm the story, or who the RCA executive was?

  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    even prior to The Wanderer, Summer was pushing into a more rock and roll sound. The Bad Girls album is a prime example of this. while still disco, it definitely had r&r influences
    Yes, exactly. "Hot Stuff" is very much both a rock and dance song.

  48. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by khansperac View Post
    Years ago on another forum, I recall a conversation about RCA. I think someone wrote a book, possibly an artist. They mentioned the big deals RCA did at that time and how after the guy responsible for the deals was gone, the higher ups pretty much sabotaged the artists by not promoting them. For some reason I’m thinking it was Kenny Rogers. Can anyone confirm the story, or who the RCA executive was?
    I don't remember the name of the RCA executive but I do recall hearing this story. In addition to Diana and Kenny Rogers, I think Barry Manilow was another artist mentioned.

  49. #49
    I can add this to the discussion: Back in the mid 80's, I was good friends with a pretty well known DJ in the Buffalo area. He knew I was a big Nona Hendryx fan and he gave me a promo copy of one of her records that came out at the time. I complained to him that nobody played her music and I didn't understand why. My DJ friend explained to me that RCA records only really serviced Hall and Oates--it was as if the other artists just didn't exist. He called the company RCA Victim because if you weren't Hall and Oates, you weren't going anywhere, basically.

  50. #50
    Sorry guys but I have yet to hear a Donna Summer record I'd call rock. I've heard Hot Stuff and the Wanderer, but wouldn't call either rock music. When I think of rock, I think of Bruce Springsteen, Heart, AC/DC and stuff like that. I can't see any of those bands recording Hot Stuff, frankly.

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