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4.6 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 20, 2006
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Product Description

2006 release of this unreleased 1972 album of Jazz standards, recorded immediately after the success of the film and soundtrack to the Billie Holiday biopic Lady SIngs The Blues. Contains all twelve of the album's original cuts plus four additional bonus tracks for a grand total of 16 true diva classics.

Nearly 35 years after being tagged for debasing Billie Holiday's legacy with her slick pop vocals in the biopic Lady Sings the Blues--an approach producer Berry Gordy claims he had her take to make her "more relatable to a general audience"--Diana Ross gets a chance to redeem herself with these jazzier, alternate versions of the same material. Recorded around the time of the 1972 film (several bonus tracks come directly from the movie sessions), the original album was conceived as a companion piece to the soundtrack. But it was shelved and, we are told, lost in the vaults until recently. The good news is that when she commits herself to jazz, with a group of top jazz musicians behind her (playing arrangements by Benny Golson and Oliver Nelson), Ross holds her own. Her renditions of Holiday staples such as "You've Changed" and "Easy Living" are a bit mild, but lovely and relaxed. She makes up for the basic thinness of her voice with her cool, immaculate handling of melody. It's when she relies on her pop-soul instincts, as she does on a painfully awkward reading of "I Loves You Porgy," or has to contend with album arranger Gil Askey's Vegas-style touches, that she sounds unconvincing or unsteady. But Ross' diehard fans won't want to be without "Blue" and her more casual admirers will be intrigued by this departure. --Lloyd Sachs
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 20, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Motown Records
  • ASIN: B000ERU1XA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,279 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
As a committed, fervently adoring Diana Ross disciple, I wanted to wait a while before writing my review, because of course I loved this from the very first listen, but I wanted to really "get to know" this album and see what our "relationship" develops into. In that way, I can better evaluate the album's strongest points and cuts. I purchased my first copy at Starbuck's on May 16, then two more for friends in early July.

Ultimately, to cut to the chase, I feel that this CD is perhaps THE most important Diana Ross effort to be freed from the vaults. It even surpasses the excitement of the original Chic mix of "diana" when that was released in 2003. That moment for me was pure ecstasy; however, "Blue" is even more glorious. More importantly, it certainly ranks among her finest work PERIOD, solo or otherwise, and in my opinion surpasses the LSTB soundtrack. There is something about "Blue" that is even finer. Basically, she is jazzier on here and so Supremely confident. As far as how this ranks compared to Supremes vaults releases, I have a hard time deciding if this is even better than "There's A Place For Us", released in 2004. Vocally, Ross is more mature (though still young -- a mere 28!), confident, and most of all, JAZZ-ORIENTED as opposed to more showbizz-oriented (i.e. schmaltzy), as she was in the 60s. Also, the sound quality, due to the fine musicians, Gil Askey's true jazz arrangements (which only slide into Vegas on "I Loves You Porgy"), and the fresh mix, puts this above TAPFU.

Fave cuts:

1. "But Beautiful" - Wow is all I can say. She is tender, delicate, and brimming with a perfect balance of melancholy and wistfulness. This, folks, is singing. (Streisand, take notes.)

2. "Easy Living" - The epitome of jazz cat coolness!
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Format: Audio CD
There are many "standards" albums out there...some good, some bad. This one is EXCELLENT. This album accomplishes something rare these days in a standards album. It sounds original, fresh, crisp and amazing fact since it is a from-the-vaults recording from 1973. The sound is superb as is Diana Ross' voice. To be commended and noted is the choice of outstanding material. I'm totally in love with the not-covered-enough song "But Beautiful" & I love the playful pondering of "Had You Been Around"....Personal favorite is to see the track "Smile" appear on CD again (since the 1976 album it once appeared on, "Diana Ross", is OOP). Invest in this CD and you won't be sorry. Additional kudos to Gil Askey who conducted the orchestra :-) What a great album!!!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This album is an eye-opener, especially after all the negative press and peer criticism that followed the rock queen's portrayal of America's foremost tragic jazz diva as well as her impersonation of a music persona of cult-like proportions in the inner, exclusive circles of the "hip" jazz world. But the evidence on this disk is compelling. Diana did her homework, absorbing everything about the Holiday style except the rough (admittedly expressive) grain of the voice, undoubtedly exacerbated by years of smoking, drinking, doping. Moreover, she goes directly to the heart of Billie Holiday--the most painful, heart-wrenching performance of them all: Jimmy Van Heusen's "But Beautiful" from "The Lady in Satin" Album.

The phrasing, the breathing, the inflections, the accents and, above all, the unforced elocution are Lady Day. No artist could replicate Billie's singing "it's a heartache anyway" the second time around--a moment when her voice and heart literally break, life replacing art--but Diana nonetheless shows that she "gets" it: she evokes the feeling and drama though certainly not the excuciatingly tragic moment itself.

"I Can't Get Started," "Easy Living," "Solitude," and "Ain't No Body's Business" stand up right alongside the original performances--the tempos, storytelling, emotions so convincing that a listener might think the later performer is "channeling" the earlier.

No wonder the studio execs thought better than to release this one--a "serious" project that would very likely have made little money and put a damper on the mega-hits to follow. Still, Ross no doubt profited from the experience in non-material ways, learning how to communicate a song's essence as never before.
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Format: Audio CD
Life is full of surprises, especially when rare gems such as "Blue" are discovered in those vast vaults at Motown. If it wasn't for Shelly Berger - one of Diana's managers at the company - the album may not have seen the light of day.

From a historical point of view, "Blue" is fascinating; like the "Lady Sings the Blues" soundtrack, many of the musicians played for the real Lady Day herself, Billie Holiday. The exquisite arrangements are courtesy of Gil Askey, who also produced the album.

Diana's nuanced vocal delivery is stunning. It was as if she had been transported back in time to a bygone era of those decadent supper parties of the 40's. Diana's sense of timing and sense of `knowing' places her comfortably among the likes of Lady Day, Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington - that was quite a feat, especially when you consider that "Lady Sings the Blues" and "Blue" were recorded so early on in her solo career.

While a couple of the tracks lack the intensity of the versions from "Lady Sings the Blues" (namely "You've Changed", which is sung in a higher key), the overall package is very impressive indeed. Diana seemed so relaxed and at one with the rhythms and lyrics. Tracks that stand out are:

"WHAT A DIFF'RENCE A DAY MAKES" - utterly sublime!

"NO MORE" - delightfully ambiguous, and a personal favourite

"SMILE" - there's a subtle glimmer of hope in Diana's voice that's uplifting

"BUT BEAUTIFUL" - I love the way Diana caresses the lyrics. Nothing's overdone.

"LITTLE GIRL BLUE" - this is an alternative version to the track on the "Touch Me in the Morning" album. This take seems a tad more melancholic and poignant.
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Topic From this Discussion
First of ill informed moron. Ross does have a new album coming out.
Second of all...She still commands more attention after 40+ years in the biz than most other artist. Even small minded people who can't stand her, somehow feel the need to post comments about her...funny!
Third of... Read More
Apr 14, 2006 by T. Morgan |  See all 14 posts
mr. sach's review
well said mike.
i for one cannot wait to listen to the diva's POP INSTINCTS.
May 5, 2006 by aussie battler |  See all 5 posts
Supremely Blue
Oh goody. Comments from another former "fan" that Ross pissed off!
If all of Ross's FORMER fans were to post reviews (rather than just the bitter queen FANATICS who worship the toilet paper Ross cleans herself with), these "reviews" might actually mean something! LOL!

As far... Read More
Jun 12, 2006 by HAPPY BUYER |  See all 10 posts
Blue Album will Blow You Away
She's like a broken Ross record, aren't you Jimmy?
Jun 13, 2006 by HAPPY BUYER |  See all 5 posts
Blue Album by Diana Ross
Some old queens just can't sccept the fact that Diana Ross's career is over, can they? Hahaha! ;-P
Jun 14, 2006 by HAPPY BUYER |  See all 3 posts
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