If there’s a remedy I’ll run from it: the best of Diana Ross

Inspired by a visit last weekend to a Starbucks where I heard “You’ve Changed” between The xx and The B-52’s. Cool, Billie Holiday, I thought. It took a couple minutes to realize it wasn’t, prompting a listen to the 1972 blockbuster whose film garnered its star an Oscar nod for Best Actress. Although lacking the wit with which Holiday imbued her material, Diana Ross’ interpretations on Lady Sings the Blues are far from embarrassing; she loves these songs, and if she couldn’t live them like Holiday she nevertheless gave them the sensitivity of a good actress aware that the scripts are impeccable. In fact, her “You’ve Changed” rivals Holiday’s.

I’m not sure what else I can say about the material Holland-Dozier-Holland wrote for The Supremes, which certainly rivals Holiday’s in pathos and, yes, wit. During her solo years she spent years recording dreck because that’s what a pro was supposed to do. At her best she lent a sensual abandon to her material; “Love Hangover” and “Upside Down” throb with a post-adolescent love of sex without sacrificing the joy of discovery. As for the RCA years, she suffered no more than other boomer icons. I’m trying to imagine her singing R. Kelly or Babyface ballads in the mid nineties.

SUPREMES

1. You Keep Me Hangin’ On
2. Where Did Our Love Go
3. Love Child
4. Someday We’ll Be Together
5. Whisper You Love Me, Boy
6. See About Me
7. Stop! In the Name of Love
8. I’m Livin’ in Shame
9. You Can’t Hurry Love
10. My World Is Empty Without You
11. I Hear a Symphony
12. Love is Like an Itching in My Heart

SOLO

1. Upside Down
2. Love Hangover
3. Touch Me in the Morning
4. I’m Coming Out
5. The Man I Love
6. Mirror, Mirror
7. My Old Piano
8. You’ve Changed
9. Swept Away
10. Tenderness
11. Muscles
12. Pieces of Ice
13. The Boss

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