This Beat Is Mine! Diana Ross – Brown Baby (Motown)
Oh yes, we don’t have the vinyls anymore (or so few) and their sleeve artworks where we would get the artist credits. Besides, not many neither are the sites displaying informative content and by that, I mean seriously documented. But we have Youtube at last and its suggested videos. This being how I got to rediscover ‘Brown Baby’ as performed by Diana Ross. Meanwhile coming to think she hardly sounded so emotional. Probably because of havin’ recently given birth to her first child at the time. Therefore makin’ the lyrics of this ‘Brown Baby’ song like tailor-made for the circumstances…
On the other hand, I couldn’t help being fed while havin’ a look at some comments next to the video. With some of them spreadin’ the usual sh** one may read on the social networks. As many things most oftenly based upon gossips, speculations and probably a sort of bitterness for some reason. As if their authors had been among the performer’s relatives. And however they would have been, there are things that should remain private. And, as if it was already enough, one could see someone quibblin’ about the color itself (‘brown’) of the baby. Incredible, don’t you think? And even more knowing the identity of the author of this song (Oscar Brown, Jr.). Not to mention the names of the numerous artists who covered his song. From Nina Simone to Mahalia Jackson among others…
Diana Ross‘ rendition of ‘Brown Baby’ is just awesome. With thanks to its uplifting and touching lyrics. Meanwhile beautifully served by the arrangements and production work by the likes of Tom Baird. In a vein somehow reminding of some of Marvin Gaye‘s songs. Don’t you think?
This Beat Is Mine! (*)
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With warm thanks to Bridgeport, CT-based correspondent, Sharon Hicks, for this week’s suggestion…
A native of Detroit, MI where she got raised, Diana Ross first sang duets. Meanwhile sharing the bill with Paul Williams who later on became a member of The Temptations. The first traces of a recording of hers bringin’ us back to the fall of the sixties. And, in the meantime, the beginning of The Primettes who were to become The Supremes when signin’ with Motown in January 1962. Diana Ross joinin’ after she’d got introduced to the group by Mary Wilson and Eddie Kendricks.
Ross first rose to fame as a member of The Supremes, eventually comin’ to replace Florence Ballard as their lead singer. The group released a record-setting 12 number-one hit singles on the US Billboard Hot 100. Therefore delivering classics such as ‘Baby Love’, ‘Stop! In the Name of Love’ and ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’ to name a few.
Leavin’ The Supremes in 1970, she delivered her eponymous debut-album during that same year. Makin’ her first appearance in the charts under her own banner with ‘Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand)’. A cut soon after followed by her cover version of the Ashford & Simpson‘s penned classic ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’. Eventually scoring her first #1 hit.
‘Touch Me In The Morning’, the title track of her second effort, brought her back to top the charts in 1973. An album which features her vibrant cover version of Oscar Brown, Jr.‘s ‘Brown Baby’ although it didn’t see the light as a single. And as if it wasn’t enough, Ross made an even bigger sensation at that time. First makin’ her screen debut in ‘Lady Sings The Blues’, the Billie Holiday biopic. Then releasing the album of the name which would go to no. 1 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart.
The success story continued 3 years later with the release of the ‘Mahogany’ soundtrack. With ‘Theme From Mahogany: Do You Know Where You’re Going To’ bringin’ her her third #1 hit. A success she soon after followed with ‘Love Hangover’. Meanwhile takin’ the then exploding Disco scene and the nightclubs by storm. Then, surfing on the vibe, she would team up with producers Ashford & Simpson on her 1979 album, ‘The Boss’ and its memorable title track. The latter resurfacing almost 20 years after with The Braxtons covering it along with producers Kenny Dope and Louie Vega. The other cut worth the mention being ‘No One Gets The Prize’ which Danny Krivit masterfully edited as a part of his 2003 ‘Edits By Mr. K’ album.
Diana Ross put an end to her first run with Motown under the form of a sprakling fireworks. Releasing her ‘Diana’ album along with Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of the Chic fame. This collaboration givin’ birth to extra classics such as ‘Upside Down’, ‘I’m Comin’ Out’ and ‘My Old Piano’. Meanwhile her last single for Motown – ‘Endless Love’ along with Lionel Richie – would be her sixth and final US number-one Pop hit.
October 1981 saw her starting a new phase in her recording career. Meanwhile releasing ‘Why Do Fools Fall in Love’, her debut-album for RCA. And eventually charting with its title track and ‘Mirror Mirror’. Its follow-up, ‘Silk Electric’, featuring the Michael Jackson penned and produced ‘Muscles’. She then eventually teamed up with Arthur Baker and Darryl Hall who produced the title track of her ‘Swept Away’ album in 1984. Then Ross scored her second #1 U.K. hit the year after with ‘Chain Reaction’. A cut written by and featuring The Bee Gees in the backing vocals. The following years (and releases) seeing her progressively losing her overall impact.