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  1. #1
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    Good in depth article on Red Hot Rhythm and Blues


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    Thanks for posting, that was an interesting read.

  3. #3
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    Really good article, thanks for finding

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    this is a very nice article. excellent perspective

    i still contend though that the concept of the special and album were not timed properly for her career, at least in terms of pop chart activity. by the later 80s, Ross had been absent from the US pop market for several years. so to do a broad retrospective project didn't really help re-establish her as a "contemporary" artist.

    also the album diverged quite a bit from the concept of being an exploration of historic black music. too many of the older tunes were just basic covers. she didn't really do anything new or interesting with them, didn't re-image a few of them in light of the 80s and what a contemporary artist might do with them. for reference, think of what magic Gil did with Sing R&H. some of the tunes were done traditionally but others were redone in a "motown" style.

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    I never followed Diana RossĎs career during the RCA years. I didnít really listen to the Supremes until after she left the group although of course I heard all the hits and bought the early albums later. I bought all the solo albums in the expanded editions when they came out seven or so years ago, but was disappointed in most of them because the material seemed to be weak and several of the CDs had too many versions of the same song. I donít recall really being struck by any of them, and I havenít played them since, but Iím definitely going to get this one out and listen to it again.

    I do agree with sup_fanís analysis, that the timing of a sort of retrospective album wasnít really what was going to put her back in the public eye or achieve chart success. I think such a selection of songs would more or less go further towards audiences viewing her as someone on the oldies circuit. Certainly she deserved, and still deserves, better than that.

  6. #6
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    "Because Berry Gordy favored Ross, she escaped much of the tragedy that befell many other Black artists of the time."


    Is this the bottom line ....without Berry Gordy where is the author thinking Diana was headed?

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    i don't know how or whether she was coordinating her career plans with her family life. she had married Arne in 85 and in 87 their first son was born. her RCA contact was also expiring. I wonder if the lp was simply a way to complete her obligations to the label before leaving. her TV special was well received and would have been done through her production company, not RCA. it had been 18 months since Eaten Alive was released so that's quite a quiet period.

    so i wonder if other things going on were taking priority over identifying a really on-track and meaningful album

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    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    i don't know how or whether she was coordinating her career plans with her family life. she had married Arne in 85 and in 87 their first son was born. her RCA contact was also expiring. I wonder if the lp was simply a way to complete her obligations to the label before leaving. her TV special was well received and would have been done through her production company, not RCA. it had been 18 months since Eaten Alive was released so that's quite a quiet period.

    so i wonder if other things going on were taking priority over identifying a really on-track and meaningful album

    You're letting the air out of this dudes tires ! The author has gone to great lengths to present this project as one of Diana Ross' , and therefore all of black music history's, most shining and meaningful moments.

    too bad he didn't include a link to that MR LEE video !

  9. #9
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    haha - i'm not commenting on the QUALITY of the recordings. actually i like much of the album. i find it enjoyable. even some of the tracks that tend to be viewed less favorably by fans like Shockwaves, Dirty Looks and There Goes My Baby. but it isn't an album i play much and few of the tracks find their way onto my playlists.

  10. #10
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    I have always felt the album was judged a little to harshly. It’s certainly not ground breaking stuff, but their are some gems to be had. It was released during a lull in her career and at a time when she desperately. needed a commercial hit.
    Like ross 83 and Eaten Alive, the bad choice of singles help kill the album.

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    The article gave me appreciation of the ambition and aim of the album and TV special. Too often Diana Ross is dismissed as just being focused on commercialism and chasing hits and trends, especially in the 80s. But in a number of her endeavors, she was aiming to reflect and build upon African American musical and cultural history and artistic expression, whether it be Red Hot Rhythm and Blues, the Afro Vogue number on TCB, trying to get the Josephine Baker biography film made, or the cover of the Take Me Higher album.

  12. #12
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    I love articles such as this that force you to reappraise the album.
    One of the main problems was always the misleading title lending the wrong expectation. Red hot rhythm and blues it certainly isn't, but rather a fairly pleasant and straightforward collection of retro and modern.
    ‘SHINE’ would have made for a far better title and tied in with Diana wearing sunspecs on the cover methinks.

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    Simply title the album,"Shine". I would have released this song as a single, included it in the TV special and had a tour named "Shine". "Shine" holds up today and still sounds fresh and exciting. Bravos for Diana Ross' sharp vocals and the hot production crew.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNSUN View Post
    Simply title the album,"Shine". I would have released this song as a single, included it in the TV special and had a tour named "Shine". "Shine" holds up today and still sounds fresh and exciting. Bravos for Diana Ross' sharp vocals and the hot production crew.
    Agee on all points. Even today the song packs a punch, and would have been incredibly radio friendly for the time. An arty promo vid would have sealed the deal. Second single should have been “Hard For Me To Say”.
    These were arguably the most ill advised, collective batch of singles ever released from a Diana Ross album.

  15. #15
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    I don't dislike Dirty Looks. it's a bit more AC to my ear than pop. Shine i do agree would have been better single. I also like Stranger In Paradise

    Tell Me Again needed some rework, in particular Diana's vocals as she's often flat on her high notes.

    Summertime is an amazing track.

    maybe the issue is the inclusion on the US album of Selfish One and There Goes My Baby and the retro Shockwaves. that's a lot on 1 album. she had already done nearly 1 retro song on every album so it was getting a bit old by 87.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNSUN View Post
    Simply title the album,"Shine". I would have released this song as a single, included it in the TV special and had a tour named "Shine". "Shine" holds up today and still sounds fresh and exciting. Bravos for Diana Ross' sharp vocals and the hot production crew.
    'Shine' is a great favorite of mine as well.

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    I'm probably in the minority but Tell Me Again has grown on me and now it's a favorite of mine.


    Diana Ross is able to sell naive lyrics and make them appear spiritual.


    It was a beautiful album but she lacked of energy on some important songs like "There goes my baby".

  18. #18
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    [QUOTE=Spreadinglove21;701823]This is well worth reading: https://www.popmatters.com/diana-ross-red-hot-rhythm[/QUOTE

    Wow. And pretty much i dismissed it as her worst album [[not counting I Love You) and fairly meaningless.

  19. #19
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    [QUOTE=TheMotownManiac;702444]
    Quote Originally Posted by Spreadinglove21 View Post
    This is well worth reading: https://www.popmatters.com/diana-ross-red-hot-rhythm[/QUOTE

    Wow. And pretty much i dismissed it as her worst album [[not counting I Love You) and fairly meaningless.
    Oh come on now. It’s not perfection but definitely better than Workin Overtime. And I would say been than Eaten Alive

  20. #20
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    I don't know about the USA, but RHR&B received many excellent reviews here in the UK at the time of its release. Blues & Soul magazine called it timeless.

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    thought this album was good and agree with many that thought Shine should have been the single, maybe Dirty Looks should have been a B side . i think had this album been released in 1983 , it would have faired well .good production and vocals.
    but by 1987 , Diana had been off the charts by 2 years and i remember wondering why RCA had not released Crimes Of Passion. but then they release Tell Me Again. i knew the album was doomed.

  22. #22
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    I think releasing Dirty Looks first was a good decision. Itís soulful and Diana sounds really good. Production is tight. All around good record.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by khansperac View Post
    I think releasing Dirty Looks first was a good decision. It’s soulful and Diana sounds really good. Production is tight. All around good record.
    I agree. DIRTY LOOKS was catchy and fun and caught the R&B audience's attention.

    I think the big mistake was not releasing ITS HARD FOR ME TO SAY as the second single. The collaboration with Luther should have been heavily promoted. Instead they went with TELL ME AGAIN, which was special to Diana as it had been sung at her wedding. But I don't think it was a good second single.
    Last edited by reese; 05-23-2022 at 11:10 AM.

  24. #24
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    i think Diana sounds rather weak on Tell Me Again. her performance isn't anywhere near something like It's My Turn. and you also had Whitney coming out with her power ballads around this time. anything but Diana at full peak performance was going to come across as thin and weak. The song itself is fine enough though not truly magical.

    It's Hard For Me To Say is ok too but i'd hardly classify it as a lost gem. I dump this in the "oprah swaying" category of Diana's discography lol some easy-going, swaying ballad that she's perform on Oprah's show. Oprah would always be teary-eyed and holding her arms up in the air, swaying with a big old goofy grin on her face.

    i agree that having Diana work with Luther could have been an exciting collaboration. but this song is anything but

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post

    It's Hard For Me To Say is ok too but i'd hardly classify it as a lost gem. I dump this in the "oprah swaying" category of Diana's discography lol some easy-going, swaying ballad that she's perform on Oprah's show. Oprah would always be teary-eyed and holding her arms up in the air, swaying with a big old goofy grin on her face.

    i agree that having Diana work with Luther could have been an exciting collaboration. but this song is anything but
    Opinions on the song's merits will vary, of course. But by 1987, most of the success that Diana was getting was from the R&B/Soul audience. DIRTY LOOKS managed a respectable #12 placing on that chart. Considering Luther was the king of R&B during this period, any association with him should have been exploited.

    I would venture to say that the song became special to Diana, as she did end up singing a bit of it on Oprah [LOL] as well as including it in the set list of her first MORE TODAY THAN YESTERDAY: GREATEST HITS tour. She performed it while photos of her Motown colleagues were shown on a screen behind her.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by reese View Post
    Opinions on the song's merits will vary, of course. But by 1987, most of the success that Diana was getting was from the R&B/Soul audience. DIRTY LOOKS managed a respectable #12 placing on that chart. Considering Luther was the king of R&B during this period, any association with him should have been exploited.

    I would venture to say that the song became special to Diana, as she did end up singing a bit of it on Oprah [LOL] as well as including it in the set list of her first MORE TODAY THAN YESTERDAY: GREATEST HITS tour. She performed it while photos of her Motown colleagues were shown on a screen behind her.
    i just think Luther was capable of coming up with MUCH better material. especially given his devotion to Miss Ross. i think he could have done some great things. and yeah, they might have had an r&b slant to them but Diana had enough pop credibility [[even though she had been absent from the charts recently) to help it cross over.

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    I re-listened to the album last night after many years of not playing it. All the songs are pretty much drenched in now dated mid to late 80s adult contemporary/pop production.

    I can't help but wonder if the project initially started out as Diana's version of Barbra Streisand's Broadway album of 1985? It was very successful for Streisand as it marked a return to her doing material that made her name but most of the songs had that 1985 pop production sheen on it. But instead of doing Broadway songs Diana would sing a bunch of old school R and B songs with modern production techniques. But somewhere along the way, Diana and/or RCA decided that the album needed some new songs so they were tossed in as well.

    As a result, Red Hot Rhythm and Blues strikes me as being a lot like Every Day is a New day as there are two concepts going on: an homage to old school R and B songs [[to be included in a TV special) and some new pop/R and B/Adult contemporary songs to try to get a hit. [[Every Day is a combination of Divorce album and Double Platinum TV movie soundtrack).

    I think the album is alright, though production has aged poorly. The article gives me appreciation for what the album and TV special were aiming for and helps enhance that Diana Ross wasn't just a singer looking to score a crass pop hit however she could, but had ambition to make an important statement about the importance of Black/African American musical heritage.

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    what was that unreleased MOR album diana did at RCA? was it Johnny Mercer? I always guessed that was her response to the Streisand album

    as for this one, i'm not sure but what an interesting question. she had already done a sort of retrospective back in the 70s with her Evening With... concert and her impressions of Ethel, Eartha and others.

    wonder if this one came about from the failed Josephine Baker project? maybe her trying to coordinate that helped plant the seed for Red Hot?

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    what was that unreleased MOR album diana did at RCA? was it Johnny Mercer? I always guessed that was her response to the Streisand album

    as for this one, i'm not sure but what an interesting question. she had already done a sort of retrospective back in the 70s with her Evening With... concert and her impressions of Ethel, Eartha and others.

    wonder if this one came about from the failed Josephine Baker project? maybe her trying to coordinate that helped plant the seed for Red Hot?
    It was Harold Arlen. I pray it sees daylight before too long.

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    Fingers crossed that if the Arlen album ever comes out that the production was of a more timeless quality then reliant on mid to late 80s adult contemporary music [[i.e., lots of that synth keyboard sound in lieu of real strings and piano).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spreadinglove21 View Post
    Fingers crossed that if the Arlen album ever comes out that the production was of a more timeless quality then reliant on mid to late 80s adult contemporary music [[i.e., lots of that synth keyboard sound in lieu of real strings and piano).
    Was it not rca that refused to release the album?. It seems quite odd that not a single track has ever surfaced anywhere. I do agree on 80’s production, never my fave.

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