For soul fanatics, the Motown archives are the musical equivalent to the Wonka building in Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. Every twist and turn is filled with the possibility of resuscitation, preservation, and in some instances surprise discoveries. Such is the case with Blue, which was supposed to be the follow-up album to Diana Ross' wildly successful Lady Sings the Blues, but was shelved when Motown maestro Berry Gordy took Ross back in a more pop direction with Touch Me in the Morning. This direction, while proving successful at the time, is unfortunate, as the performances on Blue rival (and in some instances best) the performances on Lady Sings the Blues. A few of these tracks would later see the day on other albums ("Little Girl Blue" on Touch Me in the Morning and "Smile" on Diana Ross in 1976) but with alternate vocal takes and mixes. But Ross' portrayal of Billie Holiday was effective; it wasn't just a carbon copy reenactment of Holiday, but a cultivation of her essence when placed on-stage or in the studio behind a microphone. Gil Askey's arrangements are top-notch without sounding like dinner theater knock-offs. Blue is an album every bit as bold an artistic statement as her contemporaries Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, who were recording the opuses Where I'm Coming From and What's Going On around the same time, and for Ross fans, Blue is every bit as enjoyable as her sultriest moments as the supreme Supreme.
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AllMusic Review by Rob Theakston