May 27, 2020 Diana Ross – Supertonic (Album Review)
Ladies and gentlemen, the legendary Diana Ross is back with fresh music, or something like that, at least. Her forthcoming album, Supertonic, is due out digitally on Friday, May 29th via Motown and Universal Music.
Rising to fame as the lead singer of The Supremes, Ross helped them become one of Motown’s most successful groups ever. Combining grace, beauty, and exceptional talent, she is also the only female artist to have number one singles as a solo artist; as the other half of a duet (Lionel Richie); as a member of a trio; and as an ensemble member (We are the World-USA for Africa). Rightfully a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 1988, Ross is a singer, producer, actress, and all-around cultural icon. Now, after not releasing an album since 2006’s I Love You, it is a pleasant surprise to see her return with Supertonic.
This all in mind, what exactly is Supertonic? The answer: a wonderful remix album with a handful of Ross’ best songs, nine to be exact. Produced by Ross herself and remixed by Eric Kupper, who has been a remixer for everyone from Garbage to Whitney Houston, is Supertonic worth the time of diehard Ross fans?
This question raised, one also has to ask, what exactly can a full remix album of classic number one hits truly offer? Of course, the original recordings are timeless and flawless, so why rehash them again? Well, if you have been paying attention you would know Ross had four consecutive Billboard #1 Dance Club Songs Chart singles over the last two years; “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “I’m Coming Out / Upside Down,” “The Boss,” along with “Love Hangover 2020.” An amazing feat, and proving Ross’ legacy is as strong as ever, we would say the recent success warrants an entire album of remixes. If that has not sold you, here another bit of detail worth mentioning, Supetonic’s remixes were created out of original, multi-track masters from the vaults of Motown Records.
All these factors in place, what really will make Supertonic sink or swim is the craft put into the remixes… and Kupper does a fitting job of bringing new life to each of the songs. For example, Kupper does justice to some of her most popular songs such as the aforementioned “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” which features a punched up beat for a modern dancefloor. And it is not just the extra thump, but also some interesting reworking of Ross’ vocals that not only get the melodies stuck in your head all over again, but entice you to keep Supetonic spinning.
Honestly, all the reworked cuts are tastefully executed, this includes a colorfully re-imagined “Surrender” and crisp textures of “Remember Me.” However, stand-out moments include a 2020 edition of 1976’s “Love Hangover,” which unifies a classic Disco vibe with modern production, and the irresistible mashup of “I’m Coming Out/Upside Down,” which was originally remixed in 2018.
Overall, Supertonic sure is a fun listen without ever growing boring. The music remains catchy and thriving while the rhythms and melodies go deep, infiltrating every inch of your body. Her voice is remarkable and outstanding, but so are the arrangements and musical components surrounding it. Speaking of which, for those who dig the instrumentals, Supertonic: Instrumental Mixes is also out digitally May 29th. This is all while the album itself will get a physical release on CD and crystal-clear vinyl on June 26th.
It’s true, most are yearning for brand new music from Diana Ross, but the nine songs remixed on Supertonic offer more than you might expect. Timeless and breathtaking, Cryptic Rock gives Supertonic 5 out of 5 stars.