Fresh from her career-defining role in the Supremes, Motown issued Diana Ross' Everything Is Everything in 1970, within months of her self-titled solo debut of earlier the same year. This time, veteran Motown multitasker Deke Richards was brought in with hopes of equaling the unqualified success that the staff team of Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson had with Diana Ross -- particularly the songs "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Although Everything Is Everything failed to exceed -- or even meet -- the chart achievements of its long-playing predecessor, many enthusiasts consider it to be a worthy companion. Rather than drawing exclusively from their stable of in-house writers, Richards split the duties between himself and a variety of Hitsville U.S.A. stalwarts -- including Berry Gordy and Marvin Gaye -- as well as significant outside input from the likes of John Lennon-Paul McCartney, Burt Bacharach-Hal David, and fellow Motor City soul stirrer Aretha Franklin. The upbeat opener, "My Place," swings steadily behind the frisky rhythm section -- replete with Jack Ashford's signature timekeeping on tambourine. Sprightly strings underscore Ross' similarly agile and inviting lead vocals. In deference to the pink glamour shot adorning the front, Ross reveals an earthier image on the funky "Ain't No Sad Song." It is a perfect example of producer Hal Davis' ability to capture the essence of the singer's sensuality, a feat he repeated to even greater effect a few years later on his production of the R&B/pop crossover chart-topper "Love Hangover."
The infectiously cheery "Everything Is Everything" has the slightly quirky feel of a Laura Nyro composition, although it was actually written by a female friend of Berry Gordy. The Marvin Gaye-Anna Gaye co-penned "Baby It's Love" is one of several outstanding deep cuts flawlessly blending the unmistakably vintage Motown sound with a comparatively modern arrangement. Underneath Gene Page's silky strings is the midtempo ballad "I'm Still Waiting." Although the softer selection didn't make too much of an impression stateside, it went to the top of the singles survey in the U.K., resurfacing in their pop countdown -- in a remix form -- nearly two decades later. One of Richards' laudable achievements on the disc is the return to the well-established Motown vibe on the phonetically monikered "Doobedood'ndoobe, Doobedodd'ndoobe, Doobedood'ndoo." On the other hand, the Beatles remakes show contrasting sides to Ross' talents. "Come Together" pulls no punches with an extended brassy and sassy reading directly contrasting the empathetic and heartfelt take of "The Long and Winding Road." As good as those upgrades are, it is Ross and Richards' sultry collaboration on Aretha Franklin's "I Love You (Call Me)" that may arguably be the finest contribution from either participant. Everything Is Everything concludes with the charming filler "How About You" and "(They Long to Be) Close to You." The latter indeed shimmers while showcasing Ross' interpretive talents, yet ultimately lacks the sincerity and believability of the Carpenters' take of the Bacharach-David staple. [In 2008, Hip-O Select offered an expanded edition of Everything Is Everything that enhanced the running order with an additional seven bonus tracks -- half a dozen of which had never been issued before.] ~ Lindsay Planer