Is Sade’s First Album Among the Top 10 Most Seen In Charity Shops?

An informal poll: what are the thrift store’s most seen rock/pop genre albums?  Replies, please.

It might be Diamond Life which I picked up (along with her second,  Promise ), at Hythe’s Demelza House a week ago.

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.

Published in: on October 24, 2010 at 10:24 pm  Comments (15)  

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  1. at one time it seemed that Paul Young’s ‘No Parlez’ was everywhere. recently there seems to be an awful lot of Phil Collins solo albums around. other hardly perenials of the charity shop scene round my way include Shirley bassey, Perry Como and Barry Manilow.

    we were sort of discussing this area in the comments box of my friend Kek’s blog recently..

  2. I’ve no doubt that per capita, Burly Chassis, Hairy Commode, etc. kicks Adu’s ass; but actual specific Lps, that’s what I wonder.

  3. That’s uncanny re: the Kek blog. I tried to comment there but my blogger account has expired.

  4. Out here in the Desert Southwest, Sade might make it in the top ten. My top 5 seen in every thrift store or estate sale:

    1. Any of the first 5 Herb Alpert albums
    2. Any of Barbara Streisand’s pre 1980 albums
    3. Any of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s albums
    4. Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack
    5. Miscellaneous Disney Records

  5. Jim Reeves records also feature heavily in deepest Kent.

  6. our local chazza shop has been inundated with james last albums including 8 copys of make the party last and 5 copys of games lovers play in the same crate (the same crate also had 3 copys of shirley basseys something too 🙂 )

  7. Barbra Streisand records are pretty much only available on CBS, whereas Dame Shirl’s dreck is spread across a vast range of labels; hence her advantage in the “unpopularity” stakes.

  8. i know i’m a little late to the party on this one, but having seen it whilst browsing the site here’s my own contributions/observations:

    first of all check out these 2 related pages on my own website on this topic:

    secondly concerning Sade:

    Prompted by the above comments I thought I’d give another listen to “Sally” that I thought at the time was by far the best thing on the “Diamond Life” album (and still do, if only in relative context), as it was a stab at a smoky dive/film noire/Chinatown feel as opposed to the usual bland cocktail bar stuff.

    Regarding Sade herself, the only thing I can comment on beyond her usual drone is that from time to time she breaks into the female equivalent of a falsetto, where her voice sounds even weaker than normal. As for the music, it still has its good points: there are some nice touches on a comparatively untreated piano (it might even be a real one!), and ironically the saxophone is one of the least cheesy things on it, nothing like the usual cringeworthy “Careless Whisper” wailing that so badly dates that era. There’s even a brief burst of mournful muted trumpet at one point that really sets the mood, but sadly it disappears all too quickly.

    However, 80’s production naffness is suspiciously conspicuous within the rhythm section. The bass (that isn’t that convincingly played anyway) sounds like its being plucked with a plectrum which is a real cardinal sin for this kind of music (and if not then the settings are far too bright and trebly anyway). And as for the drums, well they start off alright with some subtle sidestick and ride, but the wheels begin to fall off at the chorus where, preceded by some totally unnecessary and incongruous artificial handclaps, a massive booming snare is battered to within an inch of its life… and if that’s not enough, an equally loud and forcefully-hit tom tom also joins in halfway through!

    As for Sade’s musical career in general, surely she is the very definition of a one-trick pony, and an incredibly fortunate one too with such an easily-satisfied and undemanding audience. But preaching to the converted with their coffee tables and cheese fondue sets (or whatever else they imagine passes for style and class these days) for the last 25 years or so is obviously lucrative work, as I heard or read somewhere that she now owns and lives on a massive estate somewhere in the Caribbean (does she have her own personal island?). However the downside of being so rich and famous is that apparently she has to maintain a private army to keep the stalkers out!

    • Even the lions aren’t interested = LOL.

  9. oh yes, the reason the “Diamond Life” LP is so plentiful in charity shops etc is because her “fans” all got rid of their record players and replaced their copies with the CD version (more shiny, compact and bijou and thus so much better suited for displaying on the coffee table to impress your friends ha ha)

  10. The thought hadn’t occurred, but I think you’re probably spot on. So how do you explain all those Shirley Bassey Lps?

  11. okay, you asked for it…

    my theory is that dame shirl was the equivalent of sade for the generation that preceded ours i.e. wannabe-middle-class couples from a working-class background that felt they had to own something (sorry, didn’t realise that until after i wrote it) “classy” to play on their brand new state-of-the-art hi-fi (in their case record players or “music centres”)…

    my own parents certainly fell into that bracket, and i also remember one of my grandmothers having some of her albums probably for the same reason – of course despite wanting to be upwardly mobile they could still only afford the budget label releases, and EMI were very adept at repackaging shirley’s old recordings such as this album (that relatively few people originally bought):

    that was re-released on MFP with a slightly different title and alternative contemporary cover artwork:

    even now, despite records being nowhere near as plentiful in charity shops as they once were i bet you’ll still pick this one up really easily for a pound or less (although if you check ebay you’ll see some loonies are asking at least a fiver for it ha ha)

    just to confuse everyone, EMI did actually put out another chazza shop/boot perennial on MFP called “the fabulous shirley bassey” that just appears to be a general compilation:

    getting back to ms adu and her chums, she/they also had some great serendipity with their debut album coming out in 1984, just a year before the CD format broke into the mainstream in a massive way with dire straits’ “brothers in arms”… so shortly after that i suspect many of her followers anxious to be keeping up with the joneses also bought the CD format… thus shelling out twice over for the same thing!

    on a personal note of interest, i am aware that sade was originally a mere backing singer in a funk outfit called pride that was active on the london live scene (and featured some of her consequent backing band) before her glamourous potential was spotted and she was moved upfront and the sound modified accordingly. as a collector of white funk i would be very interested in hearing any recordings of theirs, but it appears there aren’t any commercially available, despite the obvious cash-in potential…

  12. How strange that one sees hundreds/thousands of SB rekkids in second hand venues and yet her albums are never on top selling of all time lists. A mathematical conundrum whose solving is worthy of a Nobel, as I would say.

  13. whilst we’re on the ever-engrossing topic of over-familiar charity shop records, one such specimen that is alarmingly common if not omnipresent is a k-tel compilation called “20 All Time Greats Of The 50’s”, that somewhat oddly identifies the artists on the front cover by their hit single rather than by name.

    whenever i come across it (which is practically every time i look through a charity shop crate) i have an irrestible urge to stop and stare at the bald and goateed middle-aged man who is “yellow rose of texas” for a couple of seconds, almost as if i have spotted an old familiar friend or something… in fact it has now become a ritual – wonder what a shrink would make of that?

  14. It all seems fairly sensible to me.

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