Swept Away

Diana Ross

RCA, 1984


REVIEW BY: Mark Millan


Following the massive success of her diana LP in 1980, Diana Ross did the unthinkable and parted ways with the Motown label, of which she had risen to become one of its most famous and bankable stars. By that time, Ross was a single mother of three young girls and approaching forty when she realized she wanted to take complete control of her life and career. It didn’t take long for the legendary singer to find a new home, and at the dawn of the ‘80s, Ross signed a very lucrative deal with RCA Records, who agreed to her every demand, and although it would turn out to be a recipe for disaster, things started well enough. 

Why Do Fools Fall In Love was her first release for the label, and it sold extremely well on the back of several hit singles. 1982’s Silk Electric did the same, but the following year’s effort was a complete failure. Ross was an eclectic mess that didn’t harbor a melody, let alone a hit single.  The devil, it appears, was definitely in the detail, as Ross’ contract automatically made her Executive Producer of her records and she could hire and fire as she pleased. This was a time when it seems Ross’ ego got the better of her and in the way of her better judgment. 

As the head of her own company, Diana Ross was The Boss, after all, and she wielded power like the newly anointed dictator that some likened her with. Such was her want that she hand-picked writers and producers to only provide their services for a couple of songs at a time, so consistency was an issue that dogged her releases. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But this time around, she got it right and was rewarded with one of her best and biggest selling solo albums. There’s a lot to like about Swept Away, her fourteenth solo release, and of all her ‘80s output, this is the one that has stood the test of time superbly. It’s a fantastic balance of pop ballads and R&B dance tracks, which added some much needed spark into Diana’s setlists when out on the road. 

The record kicks off with one of her defining moments as she offers a heartfelt reading of the Lionel Richie-penned “Missing You.” It’s a beautiful ballad loaded with all the sentiment a four minute pop song can handle, and although Ross would eventually dedicate the song to Marvin Gaye (the pair could barely tolerate each other), at the time it became one of her most successful singles. 

Latin lothario Julio Iglesias met Ross prior to her recording this record and was instantly smitten.  He set about seducing her, and when that plan was nixed by the songstress, he settled for friendship and suggested they record a song together. The result, “All Of You,” was a hit, but it also ended their short-lived friendship because Julio dared to include other duets on his massive crossover disc, 1100 Bel Air Place. He had promised Ross that she’d be the only guest on his record, and when she received her copy and discovered this wasn’t the case, it was adios amigo for good. Ross included their collaboration here, but the damage was done, so to speak. 

Better still was the Caribbean influenced “Touch By Touch,” which Ross handled with a deft touch, and her inspired arrangement got the job done nicely. A melodramatic cover of Dylan’s “Forever Young” is not the wisest choice that Diana has made in the studio, and it’s the only track here that is genuinely bad. The star of the album is, however, the glorious title track, which is not only Ross’ finest ever pop song but one of the decade’s all time greats. “Swept Away” came courtesy of Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates, who wrote the track with Sara Allen and Ross herself. It harbors an insanely catchy pop-rock track that is greatly enhanced by a stellar delivery from Diana, who really went all out on this one, and more of the same would’ve made this album brilliant. 

Having said that, Swept Away is a solid and consistent record that proves Ross can mix it up with the best – at least, when she has the right material and people to work with. This one is, as with most of her RCA material, only available on CD out of Japan and costs a small fortune, which is a shame, because it’s definitely worth searching out.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2010 Mark Millan and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of RCA, and is used for informational purposes only.