Why Do Fools Fall In Love

Diana Ross

RCA, 1981


REVIEW BY: Mark Millan


By the time the 1980s rolled around, Diana Ross was a mother to three daughters, an acclaimed actress, and hugely successful recording artist. From her early days as head Supreme to her classic ‘70s solo output, Ross and her trusted Motown producers had barely put a foot wrong – it was a sweet run that would eventually turn sour for many reasons, but none of which were evident during the first two years of the new decade.

Ross severed her long tenure with Motown following the release of her seminal diana LP released in 1980 and produced by Chic’s Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards. That project was a fraught with trouble from day one, as Ross found it difficult to totally trust Rodger’s direction. This famously culminated in Ross remixing the entire album prior to its release because she felt the strings and other excesses overshone her beautiful but somewhat delicate voice.

Ross’ new label was RCA, who had signed her to a stunning 20 million dollar deal that gave the artist complete creative control over all aspects of her career. Ross’ first LP for RCA was due for release in latter half of 1981 and was ironically supposed to be produced again by Nile Rodgers; however, due to his other commitments and RCA’s deadline, Ross decided to produce the album herself and set about creating a slightly less excessive version of the my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 diana LP.

Meeting the deadline, released in September of 1981, Why Do Fools Fall In Love was Diana Ross’ 12th studio album and although it failed to meet the creative heights of diana, it sold incredibly well and delivered Ross and RCA the hit album they were all hoping for. Curiously, the lead single and title track is a breezy cover of a 1956 teeny bopper originally released by Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers. It was a solid top #10 hit that helped push initial sales for the album past expected levels.

The second hit single came courtesy of Michael Simbello, who would soon (1983) enjoy his career peak with “Maniac” after it was plucked from his Bossa Nova Hotel LP to feature prominently in Flashdance. “Mirror Mirror,” which Simbello penned with Dennis Matkosky, is the most unique moment on this record and remains one of Ross’ most enigmatic singles still. The rhythm track is essentially a mid-tempo disco affair that is then peppered with some fantastic electric guitar riffs thanks to Bob Kulick, and Ross topped it off with an inspired and powerful delivery.

The third single released from this set (and only a moderate hit) was Ross’ precursor to Olivia Newton John’s mammoth hit “Physical.” The video featured Ross in workout gear embracing the gymnastics craze of the early ‘80s with unashamed glee. Musically, there isn’t much memorable about the track save for some glorious backing vocals and a killer bassline from Neil Jason.

Another curious choice, clearly to push sales, was Ross’ decision to include a solo recording of her incredibly successful duet with Lionel Richie “Endless Love” (who wrote the track), which was still riding a wave of success having only been released one month prior to this record and taken from the Endless Love soundtrack. Despite an impassioned vocal performance from Ross, it doesn’t come close to the magic of the duet.

Elsewhere, Dan Hartmann’s “It’s Never Too Late” gets a respectable workout, Brenda Lee’s 1959 rockabilly “Sweet Nothings” is given a seductive makeover complete with steamy spoken word vocals and a sax solo, while “Two Can Make It” is tailored for Ross in the sense that it sounds identical to any number of ‘70s filler tracks that appeared several albums that decade. “Think I’m In Love” fares slightly better despite it being a low-fat version of tracks like “My Old Piano” and “It’s My House.”

Overall, the lazily titled Why Do Fools Fall In Love was the successful first album RCA needed from their star recruit. But artistically, it really doesn’t hold up that well these days and is a ways off from Diana Ross’ best work.

Rating: B-

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