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Friday, December 30, 2011

"I'm Coming Out"

Diana Ross - I'm Coming Out (1980)

That's right, it's a trombone solo. What are you going to do about it?

I know this song from so many TV shows, movies, and gay pride videos, not to mention Mo' Money Mo' Problems; that it just sort of blends into the background. Listening to it was a treat. It's a great pop song. A little long, but if any of it was cut it would have been the trombone solo, and I can't abide that, so we'll cut the length some slack. Diana Ross was huge in 1979 when this album was recorded. She could have chosen anyone in the world to write and produce for her, so she chose the biggest names of the time: Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers of Chic. According to lore, after recording, but before the final mix, Diana Ross began to realize that her choice of such funky producers might not jibe with the "Disco Sucks" sentiment rising across the land. Ross took the masters to Detroit to be remixed by herself and friendly Motown techs. Whatever happened, the album Diana and the singles that came from it made 1980 a huge year for Ross.

That guitar riff is infectious. It gets in your head. Your foot is tapping even before the drums show you exactly when you should be tapping. the drums on the whole first minute long intro are so creative. They are jazz like, I mean that they are accents, not time keepers. It's the guitar riff that keeps the beat going, while the drum acts like the horns, just hitting fun accents. When the main body of the song stars up, the drums switch from tom hits to high hat disco style beats, and the bass drops in really heavy to move the song along. The horns deserve to be mentioned here, according to the liner notes there is one trumpet, one sax, and one trombone player, but they play in such perfect lock step here that the sound is much bigger.

The trombone solo starts at 3:13. According to the performer himself, that was not the best version of his solo. He recorded four takes and planned to have them mixed for best. When Ross took all the masters to Detroit, the techs their just grabbed the first one and put it in. The trombone solo was risky, pop songs had saxophone solos, or guitar solos, maybe piano or trumpet, but not trombone; but it worked. It makes the song different.

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