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…AND THE DRUNKEN DIVA SAY, “BRING IT ON!”

I am not old enough to remember this for myself, but I’ve read quite a bit about it. So, in 1972 when Berry Gordy and Motown Records branched out into the wonderful world of cinema he decided to bring the story of Billie Holiday to the screen. That would be a challenge for the finest of filmmakers. Poor Berry was way over his head. Now, I saw LADY SINGS THE BLUES when I was in college. Despite Gordy’s TV-Movie-Like approach to the life of Ms. Holiday and his insistence to create something of a hero out of the character played by Billy Dee Williams and the Cliff Notes edition of a life filled with passion, sadness, desperation, happiness, adventure and the blues — Diana Ross gives a very good performance. She is believable and brings the horrid script and film to life. She does quite well in the role until she has to sing. I avoided Billie Holiday for years because I had this sad idea that she sang like Diana Ross. My loss. Anyway, the film was fairly panned by critics except for Miss Ross’ performance — for which she received the OSCAR nomination. If she hadn’t sung, she might have won.

Ross, in my opinion, has never been a great singer. She can carry a tune — but it has always been more about the attitude, the look and all those pretty dresses! There is no soul in that voice. Her vocals rendered the songs made famous by Billie Holiday to pop trash.

For years, Miss Ross has claimed that Mr. Gordy ignored her original recordings and take on the Billie Holiday/Jazz/Blues sound and co-opted it for that infamous Motown Sound. About a decade after the film came out, Mr. Gordy hinted that he had made the decision to toss out Ross’ original vocal work and had her work with the producers and mixers who brought The Supremes to life. Hmmmm… Of course, this is also the same woman who hired Chic to produce an LP for her which she quickly shelved and re-recorded and produced by the same folks who “destroyed” her jazz work. Hmmmm… The re-issue of the DIANA lp to DVD which features both the Motown version and the original Chic version shows us that Miss. Ross made an error. Chic created a cutting edge sound that would have taken the Diva in a new direction but she opted out on that. Her loss. …of course, that LP was a big hit and her vocals are just fine for the disco-lite she re-fashioned after the new-wave-ish sound that Chic attempted to establish for her. The same is not true for the music in LADY SINGS THE BLUES. …Billie Holiday gone the way of pop/Doris Day/glam/pink lighting…

With the recent release of LADY SINGS THE BLUES to DVD, this debate has started again. Diana Ross trying to deflect the negative reviews of her horrible vocals to the blame of the film’s producer/director and her creator — Berry Gordy. Blah, blah, blah.

Well, kids — Miss. Ross may refuse us the pleasure of MAHOGANY on DVD (somewhere sits a cargo of over one million copies of that film on DVD just waiting to be released to us. But, alas, Miss Ross has nailed down that cargo. BUT — she has finally whipped Gordy to submission and the original tapes which Ross made with some of the finest jazz musicians still living in the early 70’s have re-surfaced. Miss Ross has reportedly “put a great deal of effort” into the restoration of these recordings and they will be finding their way to our record stores later this month in a collection called, “Blue” — yes, this is the Diva’s last chance to show us that she can get down and jazzy. This, so says Miss Ross, is what we should have heard in the film before silly ol’ Berry got his hands on her and her jazz band. The interesting thing is that “inside word” is saying that the recordings are quite good and they could have very well saved the film much of its embarrassment. Hmmmm… Well, I shall be picking it up because I have deep respect for anyone who had the nerve to record a disco song about the decor of a house and make it a Top 10 hit.

“Every-bod-ie wants ME! I am MA-HAH-GANYYYYY!” …did she really know where she was going to?

Meanwhile, the new issue of that joyish Netherlands magazine “for homosexuals” is out. …BUTT is a post modern gay porn/poetry/lit/socio-political rag for the ages. The men are not “model” perfect. The porn is perverse, but proud. The writing is solid and there are thoughts and ideas being challenged that we’ve not seen the likes of since the beginning of ADVOCATE (which has become a glossy gay version of PEOPLE) ….Actually, I think that BUTT and BITCH are the two best magazines going at this time. The new issue of BUTT features Julian Ganio as the cover boy. A bit over-weight and a chaser of portly men over 60 — Julian is also an up and coming fashion designer. He poses in a kitchen and his bedroom. The pictures, like all in BUTT are meant to look low-fi and funny. It rocks. Now, if only it could get as smart as BITCH. It is trying. So, if you are homosexual — check it out. If you are not, check out BITCH. It rules. And, if you are a straight male — and issue of BITCH would do you good.

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June 5, 2006. Uncategorized.

17 Comments

  1. Jon replied:

    Diana Ross is such a tragedy….I’m sure she was always a bitch and a half, but at least when she was in the Supremes, she was glamorous….

    We used to get promo copies of Butt at work. Haven’t looked at it in a while

  2. Me replied:

    hmm, well, me being the very special me that I am could only think, “Ewww, I hope he bathed first. I hope they wash that counter before they prep food.”

    But then, I did cringe through the whole 9 1/2 Weeks food scene. What a mess!
    Good God! I am a housewife! I’ve been cheated! Where’s my husband? Where’s my sweater set? Where are my pills?

    Your CDs are still sitting here on my desk. It appears they’re afraid to cross the border and ride in the mailman’s truck to that magical land of yours. Tomorrow I’ll force them into the envelope whether they like it or not.

  3. ginab replied:

    Neat history on Ross. My goodness. I saw Lady Sings the Blues on HBO, when HBO was a spring chicken. I liked her acting too, and thought Billy Dee was a nave. She is absolutely a weak singer (MIss Ross), and seriously I am sorry her singing performance put you off Billy Holiday, the madam of blues.

    On magazines, I think there’s one called BUST which rivals BITCH. I actually read a neat short article by Mary Gaitskill on Oprah’s mag. It was on beauty. Poignant, tho a tad overly edited (as in chopped; I could tell), Gaitskill rocks but I wonder: can she sing the blues?

    -g+bb

  4. matt replied:

    Jon – Yeah, but a pretty tragedy! …I want free BUTT!

    Meredith – I don’t think that boy bathes. LOL! But, come on — Mickey Rourke circa 1984?!?! I’d let him smear honey and peanut butter on me!!! …and he could keep his hat on!

    Gina – I’ve read BUST a few times. I think I relate better to BITCH. …I wonder what this says about me??? LOL!

  5. ing replied:

    This post has been removed by the author.

  6. ing replied:

    Bitch is awesome! I guess I prefer it to Bust myself, but both are pretty good.

    As for Miss Ross, I’ll check out Lady Sings The Blues someday. It’s got to be better than Mahogany, no?

    Hey, why do all the good magazines start with the letter “B”? Remember Bomb?

  7. Me replied:

    I’m not saying I wouldn’t play along with ANYTHING Mickey Rourke wanted to do to me (hell I even loved him in Barfly. In fact he and Faye Dunaway are likely the source of my drinking problem ;)) but I’d be so distracted by the mess that I’m sure the experience would be more enjoyable for him than it would be for me.

  8. jungle jane replied:

    Hmmmmm i dunno about Diana Ross – right now i can’t even name a single tune of hers. I am sure there are several. There must be. I simply cannot remember and doubt i would ever name a cat after her.

    I love how the guy on Butt is sitting on a stainless steel kitchen bench. His bum must be very cold.

  9. jungle jane replied:

    Matty i think you might enjoy MJ’s post today

  10. Brooke replied:

    I love that you combined a post about Diana Ross and Butt magazine. I’ll be giggling all day.

  11. Matt replied:

    All the blogger tantrum has been thwarting me to post comment. Anyway, hope you’re doing well Matty…haven’t seen any new post…so you might be up to some no good heheheheh…….hahahahahah….I’m hopping on the plane to Hong Kong tonight for my lil brotha’s wedding….will be back in a week…maybe we can meet when I get back. Take care now….

  12. matt replied:

    Ing — well, it depends on how one wants to look at it. MAHOGANY is a perfect film on sooooo many levels, but quite bad on most others. LSTB is very well acted. I DO remember Bomb! Miss it!

    Lovely Meredith — Yes, I think it best to do whatever Mickey Rourke advises. The mess can always be cleaned up later. I LOVED BARFLY — keep meaning to replace my DVD that UPS lost when I moved to California! oy!

    Jungle Jane — Oh, JJ — come on! The Supremes!!! Baby Love, Stop In The Name of Love or Love Child — or solo — we’ve got Love Hangover, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, The Boss, It’s My House, Upside Down, I’m Coming Out or Muscles!!! Yes, I can only imagine how cold his BUTT must have been! And MJ’s blog is cool! Kisses!

  13. matt replied:

    Brooke — Yeah, some how it just seemed like the right thing to do.

    matt — yeah! would love to meet up! we should — we live in the same city!!!! hope you’re having a great time! am most jealous!!!

  14. Jeff replied:

    She never could sing.
    Image is everything.
    A tempermental bitch.
    And now her career is in the toilet.

    Sound familiar? This could have been Madonna a year or two ago.

  15. matt replied:

    Jeff — LOL! I don’t know, tho. I think the people who were saying that about Madonna were just trying to spoil the party. There is no keeping Madonna down. But, I think poor Diana might be down — and has been since the early 80’s. Still — I can’t wait for this CD! I love Miss Ross!

    I want muscles!!!!

  16. Tim replied:

    Only on Matts Bit Of Space do Diana Ross and Butt complement each other so well! And with pictures, too.

  17. # replied:

    #

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