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|8. Little Girl Blue|
|9. Can't Get Started With You|
|10. Love Is Here To Stay|
|11. You've Changed|
|12. My Man (Mon Homme)|
|13. Easy Living|
|15. He's Funny That Way|
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
"Blue", as its title implies, finds Diana Ross dealing with the latter. An album originally planned as the sequel to the "Lady Sings the Blues" soundtrack, it got shelved at the last minute and gathered dust for over thirty years. Given the absence of any new Diana Ross material ever since this new millenium began, releasing "Blue" is an initiative likely to be applauded by her legion of starved fans.
And for many good reasons : this album is a true gem, arguably recorded at a moment in her career where her voice was at its finest, sounding both youthful and experienced. She delivers these classics in her instantly recognizable vocal style, investing each line with the appropriate emotional involvement, soaring when it's necessary and showing just the right amount of restraint when needed. Her selection of material is impeccable, and there are plenty of highlights here ("Smile", "Little girl blue", "Love is here to stay", "Had you been around", "What a difference a day makes"). The tasteful and low-key arrangements are obviously similar to the stylings heard on "Lady sings the blues", and the title of this intimate and delicate album couldn't be more appropriate.Read more ›
If you enjoyed her singing in that movie which was she delivered with such compassion and brilliance, you will love this CD.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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! Diana has this totally classic laid-back approach and it just makes you grin.
3. "Let's Do It" - I am surprised more reviewers haven't lavished praise on this track. Ross nails this one, biting into the humour of the lyrics, while bringing it right back to a sincere romantic plea in the last bar. A correct interpretation.
4. "Solitude" - I know from listening to this that this was one of the "demo" takes from the original LSTB sessions, because the sound and Gil's clapping at the end matches the sound on a rare acetate I own of LSTB outtakes. A stunning, simple performance. Dreamlike.
5. "No More" - Again, a correct lyrical interpretation. I say "correct" because most pop singers not of the jazz idiom would not understand the subtleties and complexity of the lyrics. It is a beguiling song in which you aren't sure if the character is glad to be without her lover or not, and the character sounds as though she may be toked up or sloshed. Ross's rendition is sung with amazing intelligence.
6. "Had You Been Around" - This track is important because it was an original written specifically for "Lady Sings The Blues". On the soundtrack, a singer called Michelle Aller does about 30 seconds of it in a scene in a club. But for some reason, Diana's version didn't appear on the soundtrack. This is a fine, sterling track and what makes it important is that being an original composition, Diana didn't have a Billie or Ella original to listen to; she had to invent the style to sing it in. She nails it in true jazz style, which proves that she could do jazz without listening to somebody else first.
NOW - what intrigues me is this: did or didn't Diana record "Happy", the love theme from LSTB??? Why wouldn't she? Is it still in the vaults? I mean, everyone at Motown from Smokey Robinson (on "A Quiet Storm"), Michael Jackson, and Bobby Darin recorded this. Why wouldn't Diana have sung when it was written for LSTB? Can't figure that one out, but I would give anything to hear her sing it!
There are more great moments on the CD, but these are the ones I have chosen to pontificate on in my review. Get "Blue" and you won't be blue -- you'll be lost in a moment!
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.
Because there is some "fluff" on the album recalling the weaker moments of the movie, five stars is representative of the songs cited above as well as "You've Changed," "He's Funny That Way," "My Man," and "Our Love Is Here to Stay." The shallowness of the remaining performances serves as a reminder of how much better she could be when she put her whole self into daunting material, literally becoming one with the spirit of the tortured life and torturous consciousness of a creative genius.
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.
"MY MAN (MON HOMME)" - a glorious torch song
"EASY LIVING" - it doesn't get much better than this. It's such a cool track.
One wonders how Diana's career would have panned out had Berry Gordy released "Blue" instead of "Touch Me in the Morning". I guess we'll never know. One thing is abundantly clear, though - "Lady Sings the Blues" and "Blue" must rank as two of the most emotionally satisfying and important projects of the diva's long career. The fact that "Blue" shot to the #2 slot on the Billboard Jazz charts - some 34 years after it was made - is testament of Diana's lasting appeal. More importantly, "Blue" proved that behind the sequins and gloss is an artist with depth.
Diana Ross and Gil Askey should be showered with Grammy's for this outstanding, timeless masterpiece.
Diana's voice is so crystal clear on this CD. Her detractors love to call her voice "reed thin", paper mache", and a "delicate instrument"; so what? Her voice is unique in its beauty and her soft voice is very pretty. She uses her voice to its maximum effectiveness on most of the material. Especially good are the cuts "Easy Living", Duke Ellington's "Solitude", "He's Funny That Way" and "I Can't Get Started". Diana gives it her full voiced try on a jazzed version of "I Loves Ya Porgy." Her singing is fine until the end of the song where her phrasing is squarely set in her pop/soul experience. For the most part Diana's offerings of these songs are subtle and lovely. She makes gentle turns on her phrasing and she lilts and bends along with the melody without straying very far from it. On "Solitude" her voice and subtle phrasing are exquisite.
Miss Ross' abilities as a song stylist are seen on "No More" and "Let's Do It... Fall In Love." This is an enjoyable CD which Motown had churned out with a touch of deception. These songs were not lost. They were ignored until it was profitable to repackage them to fit the trend of legendary stars remaking pop and jazz standards. Diana does well. Fans will like it. Others may be suprised by her renderings and the beauty of her voice.