Diana Ross

Everything Is Everything

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Fresh from her career-defining role in the Supremes, Motown issued Diana Ross' Everything Is Everything in 1970, within months of her self-titled solo debut of earlier the same year. This time, veteran Motown multitasker Deke Richards was brought in with hopes of equaling the unqualified success that the staff team of Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson had with Diana Ross -- particularly the songs "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Rather than drawing exclusively from their stable of in-house writers, Richards split the duties between himself and a variety of Hitsville U.S.A. stalwarts -- including Berry Gordy and Marvin Gaye -- as well as significant outside input from the likes of John Lennon-Paul McCartney, Burt Bacharach-Hal David, and fellow Motor City soul stirrer Aretha Franklin. The upbeat opener, "My Place," swings steadily behind the frisky rhythm section -- replete with Jack Ashford's signature timekeeping on tambourine. Sprightly strings underscore Ross' similarly agile and inviting lead vocals. In deference to the pink glamour shot adorning the front, Ross reveals an earthier image on the funky "Ain't No Sad Song." It is a perfect example of producer Hal Davis' ability to capture the essence of the singer's sensuality, a feat he repeated to even greater effect a few years later on his production of the R&B/pop crossover chart-topper "Love Hangover." The infectiously cheery "Everything Is Everything" has the slightly quirky feel of a Laura Nyro composition, although it was actually written by a female friend of Berry Gordy. The Marvin Gaye-Anna Gaye co-penned "Baby It's Love" is one of several outstanding deep cuts flawlessly blending the unmistakably vintage Motown sound with a comparatively modern arrangement. The Beatles remakes show contrasting sides to Ross' talents: "Come Together" pulls no punches with an extended brassy and sassy reading, directly contrasted by the empathetic and heartfelt take of "The Long and Winding Road." Ross and Richards' sultry collaboration on Aretha Franklin's "I Love You (Call Me)" make for the finest contribution here from either participant. Although Everything Is Everything failed to exceed -- or even meet -- the chart achievements of its long-playing predecessor, many enthusiasts consider it to be a worthy companion.

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