Album: Diana Ross <!-- none twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

Blue contains Diana Ross material that has lain "in the vaults" since 1972, and its release here merely confirms the old truth that there is usually only one reason for not having heard such music before: it's rubbish. Recorded in the flush of Ross's Oscar nomination for the Billie Holiday biopic Lady Sings the Blues, it features Gil Askey-arranged jazz standards designed to capitalise on the film's chart-topping soundtrack. The release was shelved supposedly to enable her to restore her pop career with "Touch Me In The Morning", but a cursory listen suggests it may have been due to the dainty-voiced diva's ineptitude with the form. The problem with doing jazz standards, of course, is that one's shortcomings are instantly comparable with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington and Peggy Lee - and in Ross's case, found too obviously wanting. Jazz singing is reliant on character and interpretation, but these versions just sit there stillborn: compare Ross's colourless "Let's Do It" with Eartha Kitt's fruitily suggestive, definitive reading; or her seemingly hypnotised "I Loves Ya Porgy" with virtually any other version. It's like hearing homeopathic versions of the songs, diluted to a fraction of their usual strength.

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