This album was the attempt to launch Ross as a solo artist, without the Supremes, and that seems very true when you take a look at the cover art. It’s the cover art, even more than the music, that feels like a declaration of independence. It’s amazing to the me that the cover has been described as bland. I don’t know how many women performers did what she did. Anyway…
As usual, Motown has decided the best thing to do is to repackage old hits. But, the thing is, at least some of these songs are very distinct from the earlier versions, none more than “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, which feels almost like a different song at times. It’s to their credit they went this direction. If you’re going to cover an iconic song from the same label – that your producers wrote for someone else 0 you should definitely mix it up a bit. That’s not normal Motown procedure, so that’s good. (I cannot speak for the other reused songs because they aren’t ones I know. I suspect they are pretty traditional.)
This is still extremely slick soul. Most of the things I quibble with when it comes to Motown records are true here: everything is very polished, there are lots of instruments and not enough space.
But Ross is in fine form. She does her best with this material – much of which, as I noted, was written for someone else – and, if this is viewed as her audition as a solo star, it’s a convincing one, as far as I’m concerned.
I just wish there was some grit to it, you know? The kind of thing I associate with soul music. (Oh, and that it wasn’t full of old Motown hits. But what Motown LP from this era isn’t?)