The much anticipated Diana Ross LP “Thank You” was finally released last Friday. 15 years after her last album “Blue” came out, she’s back with a songbook of love, as stated in the notes on the album. Notes by the way are the first major disappointment: at a time where vinyl is back in full force, with luxurious versions including liner notes, credits, and what have you, this Decca release totally leaves out all relevant info. No songwriting credits, no producer credits, no musician credits, no engineers. Nothing. What a shame this is. Not even the discs themselves offer any info. I don’t think that there is even one LP in my collection which doesn’t give away some basic info.
As for the songs, there are a few by producers Triangle Park who bury Ms Ross’ vocals in amazingly trashy sounding pseudo Euro-disco fodder like on “If The World Just Danced”, one of a couple of tracks which have been circling around as singles since a few months/weeks. The other track is the album opener and title track, sounding like a new version of a former Supremes hit, but lavishly fresh and contemporary. Daughter Rhonda has contributed to some pieces here, like the lovely ballad “All Is Well”, produced by Troy Miller (Gregory Porter, Rumer, Laura Mvula), who thankfully produced the majority of the album’s 13 tracks.
The only tolerable Triangle Park track seems to be the midtempo “In Your Heart”, even though I’m still not happy with the weak production on offer. The London Symphony Orchestra is featured on several tracks, like on the beautiful “Just In Case”, which also features Keyon Herrold on trumpet. Barry Eastman and Siedah Garrett wrote “The Answer’s Always Love”, hard on the edge of kitsch, but highlighting Diana’s voice which still resonates and charms and showers you with tons of empathy. There is another totally forgettable Triangle Park tune here: “Let’s Do It” doesn’t fit at all. Too much reverb and echo on the voice. “I Still Believe” is a fair enough dance/pop number which actually grows with each listen.
It is Rhonda again who wrote another beautiful ballad: on “Count On Me”, Diana is accompanied by jazz pianist Rodney Kendrick (Rhonda’s husband) and full orchestra. Her voice is a thrill on this one, lush and splendid, like an old friend talking to you after a long time. “Tomorrow” on the other side sounds like one of those cheap dance stompers which you can hear each year at the Eurovision Song Contest. It must be a joke. There is sweet drama underneath “Beautiful Love”, which opens the final side of this double vinyl album. Family and friends are the topic of yet another saccharine ballad. Still, “Time To Call” doesn’t fall into the schmaltzy pit. At the end, Diana asks everyone to “Come Together”, once again dangerously close to a feverish kitsch.
Oh by the way, maybe there is a chance to check all the credits with the accompanying download code which has become standard with lots of vinyl releases. That’s what I thought. But no chance. The answer I get on the “The Sound Of Vinyl” website to download my free digital copy is this: “we’re sorry but we could not validate your code”. Another embarrassment. But somehow fitting.