Take Me Higher! A Ms Ross Classic At 25 | The Popjustice Forum

Take Me Higher! A Ms Ross Classic At 25

Discussion in 'Comeback corner' started by WhatKindOfKylie?, Sep 4, 2020.

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    1995, proved to be a landmark year for Diana Ross. It had now been 25 years since the ex first lady of The Supremes had launched her career as a solo artist and had gone from one of 3, to a woman out on her own as one of the biggest selling and iconic female solo artists of all time. And it was also the year, she would release arguably the last classic album of her career...

    The influence of Diana Ross in so many female Pop/R&B Divas that were to follow, cannot be underestimated. Ms Ross was arguably THE crowning music Diva of the 1970's through to the early 1980's, with very few rivals able to bring the right balance of magic, soul, drama and of course, glamour to a song. But, by the very end of the decade, it was fair to say that Diana, although still an undisputed legend, was being somewhat overshadowed by a new wave of leading female talent on the charts, most notably Madonna, Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson. Plus, fellow 'old timer's, Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin, had done much better work critically and commercially than the last few of Diana's albums. As the 80's gave way to the 90's, even more leading ladies of music would come along to overshadow Diana. Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton and Celine Dion especially, would have the success with a similar formula that Ms Ross had been the forefront of in her 70's hey day.

    But, a legend is always a legend. And one such as Diana Ross should never be counted out. Her 1991 album, The Force Behind The Power, had been her biggest success in Europe for at least a decade (if not the US), and her 1993 30th anniversary retrospective One Woman would go on to achieve multi platinum sales in the UK and be her biggest selling album ever there. With these foundations behind her, in the autumn of 1995, Diana would be back to take on the new girls at their game.

    R&B was perhaps at it's height in 1995, especially in her native US. Despite it's strong ( at least European) sales, one criticism of The Force Behind The Power, was that it was a bit too MOR and Diana had been playing it too safe and not tried to create an album that would appeal to a younger generation of music lovers-something she had tried to do so the album before but to dismal sales in the process, 1989's Workin' Overtime. This new Ms Ross album however, would successfully achieve the right balance of the two and appeal to both old and new. Take Me Higher, had a team of some of the top 90's R&B producers on board, from the Babyface camp of Kenny Edmonds to Yab Yum.

    For it's lead single however, it would be the hugely anthemic title track that was chosen to launch the project. Take Me Higher, of which was produced by legendary Diva producer Narada Michael Walden, was her most alive and fulfilling dance song for years, taking the energy of the likes of early 80's Disco hits Upside Down and I'm Coming Out, but bringing it bang up to date for 1995. Critically acclaimed, it became a huge #1 dance hit in the US (her first since 1984). Take Me Higher, alas failed to make a dent on the single charts, failing to enter the US Hot 100, and just becoming a UK top 40 entry by stalling at #32. Disgracefully too low for a song of this caliber and even more so as Ms Ross had promoted it too in the UK via Top Of The Pops. Still, Take Me Higher has well and truly lasted the test of time, and still is a firm favourite of fans and of Diana's herself being a frequent entry in her concert performances.

    The album Take Me Higher, would be released in the first week of September 1995. It would give Diana, her best reviews for years, being praised for her strong vocals and being a classy collection of mid tempo R&B tracks and signature Ross ballads. In fact, it contained only two dance songs, the title track and her cover of the Gloria Gaynor classic, I Will Survive. This would serve as it's 3rd and final UK single in February 1996 and outperformed both the lead single and follow up, the haunting ballad Gone (#36) by peaking at #14. Sales wise, it was not a success in the US, peaking at just #114 on the Hot 200, this continuing the downward trend of Ross albums in her home country. In the UK, although not as big as The Force Behind The Power, it still made it to #10 and spawned a trio of top 40 singles-something that many female artists now in the same position Ms Ross was back in the mid 90's, could only dream of having...

    25 years on, Take Me Higher, still remains an album of pure class and excellence, with several songs from the project having a life of some form long after the album's release. Perhaps Diana chose to cover I Will Survive to prove a point home. Acts come and go, music trends change, but above all, she will still be here. And from that, we couldn't be more thankful.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2020
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  3. One of her best albums ever, I would say!
    WhatKindOfKylie? likes this.
  4. I'd say soo too. Perhaps her very best for me! She well and truly beat Mariah, Whitney, Toni and Janet at their game with this album.
    djessie likes this.
  5. I enjoy all of Diana´s work, but the albums I probably play the most are her debut solo album and Take Me Higher.

    The four extra tracks from Take Me Higher were enjoyable as well and it was also nice to get slightly different versions of three of the songs (Motown vs EMI versions).

    I really love this unofficial deluxe version of the album. Hopefully an official one will be released someday.

    Anthboy1 and WhatKindOfKylie? like this.
  6. ^I love that unofficial deluxe version! Never came across it before, so thanks for sharing. And yes, it would be nice if the 4 Motown/EMI 89-99 album,s got special edition treatment.
    djessie likes this.
  7. There have been talks about it for a year or two, so it might happen. I would say it´s quite likely actually, with her tour dates coming up next summer. I saw online that posters for the shows are starting to appear in the UK underground. With a new album also in the works, it would make sense to use the momentum to release these deluxe editions.
    WhatKindOfKylie? likes this.
  8. Like so many things, I hope that 2021 is finally gonna happen for Ms Ross!
    djessie likes this.
  9. I love "I'm gone", a great moody ballad!
    Shocked, djessie and WhatKindOfKylie? like this.
  10. The ballads on this album, are absolutely outstanding.
    djessie likes this.
  11. "I Thought That Were Were Still In Love" is heartbreaking, to say the least.
  12. Confessions time, that's the only song I never warmed too on the album... Splendid vocal though as ever by Diana on it.
  13. Really? For me the only track I don´t care that much for is "Only Love Can Conquer All".
  14. Yep, has never done much for me am afraid.
  15. I love this album! I remember I saw the tour in 1995 and it was fabulous. The one and only time I saw Miss Ross in concert.

    I saw her on Halloween night. Not only that, that night, our country (Canada) was in the middle of a referendum (whether Quebec should separate from Canada or stay). For her first encore, Miss Ross came back on stage and asked us if we wanted to know the results.

    The answer: "NO! Keep singing!"
  16. What an amazing night that sounds! I truly hope I can see her next year after all.
    torontodj and djessie like this.
  17. I was just thinking about the most recent albums by Mariah Carey and Toni Braxton, Caution and Spell My Name respectively. As I mentioned in my opening thread post, at the time of Take Me Higher, they were among the leading Queens of Pop/R&B. Now, 25 years on, they are similar ages as and in similar positions to Diana was then, and releasing mature and classy R&B albums for the late 2010s and early 2020's like Diana had for the mid 90s with Take Me Higher. Caution for instance was in several years end lists for 2018.But yet, those albums commerically have come of even worse. Ageism a bigger problem than ever it would seem.
  18. I bought Spell My Name and I love it. I would not touch a Mariah album in a million years but it has nothing to do with her age. I agree though - ageism in general is a big problem in the music industry, especially for women. Thankfully many albums still do well (Madonna and Kylie for example) but the singles barely make a dent in the charts.
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