NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS
The hit factory calls in the new technology
DIANA ROSS (Diana on Motown) &
JERMAINE JACKSON (Let's Get Serious on Motown)
NOT THAT it means shit but Tony Thompson is the best drummer
in the world. You'll understand that I'm not the type given
to pressing an ear next to a speaker so as to evaluate individual
rnusicianship on a scale of one to ten
if it don't
leap right out at me straight off, I rarely grant a record
but the best way to begin a review of the
new Diana Ross album is to say that Tony Thompson is the best
drummer in the world.
Diana Ross is far from the best singer in the world, but
when you're being written, produced and supported by the Chic
Organisation all you really need to be able to do is yell
in key and hang onto your hat. The Chic singers certainly
can't sing, Sister Sledqe have yet to learn how to croon through
fixed grins (hey gals, I can let you have Donny & Marie's
home number if you want), Sheila B. Devotion doesn't have
a clue what she's on about anyhow and phrases accordingly.
That leaves Norma Jean, who nobody seems interested in (possibly
cos she's on Bearsville, f'chrissake), and now Diana Ross.
Now though I love all those artists' collaborations (collaborations,
that's a laugh! Like saying that Anarchy In The UK was a joint
effort between Chris Thomas and Paul Cook) with Edwards and
Rodgers, the meeting with the fading Diana has produced the
very finest vinyl yet from the re-re-re-doubtable hit factory
it takes a lot for me to swallow my distaste at Diana Ross,
with all her multi-media across-the-board slick appeal.
At first sight and sound you may think the LP is just a predictable
proving ground for Chic, but it's more. This is the most interested
they've sounded in a while and confirms, as I suspected, that
much of the last Sister Sledge LP was merely the tat left
over from the originals presented to Motown. It's far tougher
and far less tuneful then anything Motown have ever released,
and effortlessly humiliates all that snarling, fu-fu-funky,
let's rock and roll bullshit that the company have spent the
last decade or so trying to impress us with.
on "Diana" include the obligatory ballad, (which
obligatorily dreadful) and the long track "Have Fun"
which doesn't sound finished and has a major cock-up with
a false ending. Otherwise it's solid, Nile Rogers' guitar
at the playout of "Upside Down", the great brass
in "I'm Coming Out" - gosh I wonder if the gays
will make that a powerplay, yawn - and there's always Tony
Thompson, who I don't know if I told you is the best drummer
in the world.
"Lets Get Serious" is the rogue Jackson's third
attempt at not being left in the starting stalls, though more
interestingly I notice that Stevie Wonder has chosen JJ to
be his nasty alter-ego. For his own projects Wonder thinks
it's all too important to break loose any more
all those is harsh brass rifts upset the gladioli -so here,
under the guise of Writer/Producer, he shouts and bellows
and exorcises all that funky stuff right out through his medium
The big hit single and title track is the best example of
this. Talk about everything but the kitchen sink! Still, it's
not as terrible as I first thought and at other places on
the album Stevie takes a blow-ha ha ha-and Jermaine tries
to be as warm as younger brother Michael, misses by a few
tearjerkers and an affair with Tatum O'Neal, but still stays
afloat. With this he can at lest target those earlier booboos
of his, and at the next family get-together he can actually
talk shop with his kin without getting looks of pity and stop
those "we'll stand by you son, even though you're a catastrophe"
speeches from dad.
No, Jermaine's alright- and as soon as he eases upon the
mechanical handclaps, gets a good bass riff and stops trying
so bloody hard, his albums might justify the ludicrous price
you'll be rushed to this. "Let's Get Serious" is
actually worth about £2.25, which is twice the price
I'd have given you for Motown this time last year.
They say you don't know what you've got fill it's gone, well
.. ol' Tamla have certainly had time to reflect
on that and I bet even now they don't realise their plight.
Their talents are meagre even if the names are 'big' and their
back catalogue unmatchable. The only way they're gonna avoid
folding when the recession really hits is to open the doors,
sweep out all the trophies, all the shit too and start to
learn why people buy records in 1980. Diana has chosen two
of the right ears to whisper into, but Jermaine is still the
faithful dog and company man he always was.
Huh, it's the label's twentieth anniversary and still no-one's
got the balls to stop Stevie Wonder lousing up tracks with
that twee pigeon-lunged harmonica blowing of his. I'd ask
Tony Thompson to do it but, as the greatest drummer in the
world, he is undoubtedly crazy.
Danny Baker in New Musical Express 1979
Thanks to Nick Ratcliffe