Saturday, February 02, 2008

Diana's Silk Electric

It's a shame "Silk Electric" is better known for the stunning Andy Warhol designed cover than the music it contains. Diana Ross has released better albums but this 1982 opus remains one of her most endearing. The early 80s were an interesting time for Di. The decade started on a high with her multi-platinum "Diana" album but a new record label and changing musical tastes found her struggling for relevance. Diana's first album for RCA, the fabulous "Why Do Fools Fall In Love?", delivered several big hits but was generally considered to be overly safe. Convention, however, was well and truly thrown out of the window for her second offering.

"Silk Electric" contains some filler ("Still In Love", "Love Lies" and the ridiculous "Turn Me Over" - basically a reminder to turn the record over!) but also offers some of Diana's most creative and experimental 80s output. Miss Ross returns to her roots with the glorious Motown pastiche "So Close", experiments with metal (!) on the insanely fabulous "Fool For Your Love", dishes up one of her loveliest ballads in the form of "In Your Arms" and plays around with reggae on "I Am Me". That's not even mentioning the album's most notorious cut - the Michael Jackson penned top 10 hit "Muscles".

A sleek and sleazy jam built around a throbbing bassline, "Muscles" is a camp masterpiece. Diana coos her way through the dubious lyrics with great panache, sexing it up for all she's worth. Listening to the track again tonight, I can't help but think it's ripe for an update. Sexual longing never goes out of style and the production holds up remarkably well. Imagine Dannii singing "muscle man I want to love you, in the sun oil on your body"! Now that's another #37 smash hit if ever I heard one! As much as I love "Muscles", it would be nothing without the AMAZING film clip. Some of the highlights include Di rolling around her bed, Di rolling around her bed with semi-naked body builders, Di taking off and flying (yes, flying) over a waterfall. If you haven't seen the video, check it out! In my opinion it's one of the best clips of the entire 1980s.

"Silk Electric" used to be almost impossible to find on CD. However, it was re-issued in Japan a couple of years ago and now comes up fairly regularly on Ebay. The album can also be ordered from Amazon. Sadly, "Silk Electric" is still not available on Australian iTunes.


Jamie said...

'Muscles' is surely Diana at her trashiest and most desperate. You can also smell the poppers.

I found this trashy dance cover by Club 69 of the camp classic on a dubious dance compilation I own and thought you may appreciate a listen.

Anonymous said...

I love that crazy bitch!

Mike said...

Thanks for the link, Jamie! I've been after that Rauhofer update for a while.

"Muscles" is just ten kinds of fabulous. The crazy video, the dirty lyrics and the disturbing realisation that Michael Jackson was probably playing out his darkest fantasies through Miss Ross. It's a trash classic!

D'luv said...

I'll bet while Miss Ross's puxxy was once silk electric, it's now like a rotten bucket of chum, with some chunks of roadkill mixed into the cruddy mess.

That reminds me, I'm fucking starving...

Tommy said...

I love this album too.. Probably one of my favourites (along with "Ross") from her RCA years.. "Fool For Your Love" - desperate Pat Benatar rip off that it is, is one that I love to death! On another note, I hope to see Miss Ross in concert when her and her big-ass weave pass through here in May. If you can believe it, her nemesis Mary Wilson (who was fabulous, btw) suggested I go see her when she performed at a dumpy old casino here last year.. For the prices she's charging, I'm hoping for some diva antics I can write home about :P..

Anywyay, great post - as always!

Mike said...

Well Diana doesn't even shave her under her arms so lord only knows what's happening downstairs!

Hi Tommy, "Fool For Your Love" is genius! I think Diana's RCA period is really underrated. Her output is a little uneven but for someone who has recorded so many iconic tracks, her albums have always been a bit up and down.

BTW - I'm surprised Mary didn't give you some kind of weapon to throw at Di! Enjoy the concert.