An informal poll: what are the thrift store’s most seen rock/pop genre albums? Replies, please.
In fact, I’d been waiting to buy these Lps at exactly the right time (sometimes one just knows when that is) and, believe or no, I think they have a lot going for them. First, let us consider the drum sound, the first stop in the pejorative carbon dating of music; Diamond Life sounds pretty fresh drum-wise, sans the now-notorious gated snare so pervasive at the time. Next, the keys, and again, things sound relatively undated. Sade’s vox is limited, of course, but she uses it just so; and I melt for that signature minor harmony she regularly employs. It is only when we get to the sax, really, that things start sounding 80s-in-a-bad-way. Ultimately, however, it is the songs themselves that sell the album, and they are uniformally catchy and groove based. What’s the problem?
It is instructive to compare Sade to similar contemporary artists occupying the “S” bin: Simply Red and Style Council. To compensate for the lack of Hucknell’s pipes, Ms. Adu has been obliged to come up with something more original, less overtly reverent. So, like Style Council, Sade has attempted to update soul/jazz but, unburdened with Paul Weller’s pretensions and dogma, the music is lighter and more listenable. With the balance of the things so finely honed, so tasteful, it’s no wonder the thing sold well; sometimes “popular” is also good and so it proves here.
Now, whether or not the lovely Sade’s mining of virtually the same vein for a quarter of a century represents a dearth of imagination/ability or a commitment to an ideal is a matter we will consider later.