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Diamond Life was released in 1984, this was the album that really brought the soft silky voice of Sade to the public consciousness. Mixing Soul, R&B with an old style jazz voice and world music, this was a lovely album of easy listening pleasure.
A very controlled and honest album, Sade's voice is the key to this being so good, she sounds amazing and has a voice that is perfect for relaxing you.
The album includes some of her greatest songs, from the majestic smooth operator with its gentle riffing beat to 'your love is king' a wonderful little tune that sums up Sade for me, its simple but very enticing and worth listening to frequently to really appreciate it.
The music is lovely with riffy jazz and whilst this might be responsible for lesser bands like Lighthouse family, it helped make this kind of music more acceptable to everyone.
The album sold over 6 million copies in the UK and America making Sade a star around the world in the process.
Songs such as Hang onto your love and I will be your friend are lovely little tunes and the album is perfect at just around 45 minutes in total as it doesn't feel too long at any point and no song is particularly weak. The stand out tracks are the two I have mentioned but the others are good in their own right.
Overall it's a relaxing album which is great for a romantic evening, a meal or a gentle dinner party, its inoffensive and soft but has a beautiful vocal and some lovely musical twists.
1. "Smooth Operator"
2. "Your Love Is King"
3. "Hang on to Your Love"
4. "Frankie's First Affair"
5. "When Am I Going to Make a Living"
6. "Cherry Pie" "Sally"
7. "I Will Be Your Friend"
8. "Why Can't We Live Together"
The album is available on Itunes, it is also available on Amazon for £4.99.
WHO'S THIS THEN?
Sade Adu was/is an Anglo-Nigerian singer and owner of a silken voice. The album is a Marmite case: you either love it or hate it. Much maligned as "cocktail bar" music, she recorded Diamond Life in late 1983 ready for assault on the burgeoning "yuppie" scene of the 80's. Needless to say the Filofax and brick-like "mobile" phone brigade bought it in their droves. So did the soul boys and girls up and down the country as a soundtrack for a little bit of white-towelling socked late night loving! Go Darren and Tracey!
WHAT'S THE TRACKLISTING?
1. Smooth Operator
2. Your Love Is King
3. Hang On To Your Love
4. When Am I Gonna Make A Living
5. Frankie's First Affair
6. Cherry Pie
8. I Will Be Your Friend
9. Why Can't We Live Together
ARE THE SONGS ANY GOOD?
On the whole - yes. Here come the track descriptions:
1. Smooth Operator (4:18)
You'll know whether the album is for you before 10 seconds have elapsed. A pretty bossa nova rhythm played out on the handrums as a seductive bass coaxes the meandering saxophone in starts the track/album and it's all very nice. If you like music that kicks up the batty or stors an emotion in some way, then look away now! Sade's voices comes in as the perfect foil for the nonchalant beats and sax. "No need to ask" she whispers, "he's a smooth operator". A song about "playas" (hip hop terminology for a person with more than one partner) before they were invented. This is very jazzy in an accessible and good way. Relased as a single.
2. Your Love Is King (3:43)
The track that thrust Sade into the limelight. A real fairytale story, this, because it was her first single and it went into the top ten in the summer of 1984. Back in the 80's, overnight sensations were virtually unheard of, and those that did appear out of nowhere generally disappeared pretty sharpish too. A great love song with more dreamy sax and chilled hand thumped percussion. "I'm coming up" she cries after chorus. Whatever can she mean? Released as a single.
3. Hang On To Your Love (6:01)
Until now, all modern jazz elements have been used: the cool vocals, the metronomic basslines and the sax. Now the understated picked jazz guitar surfaces on this track. It's at this point a third of the way through Diamond Life, that you realise that Sade is not going to exert herself vocally, there's going to be no lung-busting here. If you're looking for 80s soul's answer to Courtney Love or Jocelyn Brown - forget it. The vocals are creamy, smooth and whispered. This song displays a nice line in slinky piano grooviness about four minutes in. Which is nice.
4. When Am I Gonna Make A Living (3:32)
This is my favourite track because it's the nearest Sade gets to funking out. A lovely bass and piano riff ploughs through the intro before a hi-hat joins in the jazzy furore. Almost an anti-Yuppie anthem, "I hunger for a life I can't afford" she sings over an enthusiastic sax. MY, how the Yuppies must have spluttered into their Delboy-endorsed Pina Colada's over that one! Released as a single.
5. Frankie's First Affair (4:38)
Similar in pace to Your Love Is King, but lacking it's class. To be honest once you've heard the bass, sax, tinkling piano and bongos on Diamond Life, you've really heard all it's got to offer, I'm afraid. A brave attempt at consistent songwriting but very much of it's time and therefore fails to stand up to scrutiny in 2004. Totally forgettable and the weakest track here.
6. Cherry Pie (6:20)
"Sweet as cherry pie", Sade sings over this by-now familiar rhythm. It's the nearest we get to a bit of emotion from that husky and hushed voice and if the producer had just turned the beat and "wah-wah" guitar down a bit, and let the vocals surface, it could have been a more intriguing track. As it is her cocktail bar backing band are the real stars on this track. At 6:20, it's too long too!
7. Sally (5:22)
The first sign of a bit of adventure on album's that's now two-thirds of the way through. The beat - when it appears - is staccatoed and unpredictable and most of the time it's just Sade, a bass and a meandering piano with a side order of very subtle percussion. This beatless approach would work well on a shorter track, but at an ill-advised 5:22, it's pillows at the ready! (Hence the title of my review).
8. I Will Be Your Friend (4:44)
Virtually the twin sister of Smooth Operator but the only difference being the difference in lyrics. Same pace, sam mood, instruments, sax intro, everything! The lyrics, as on the rest of the album, are not very inspiring. "I will be your friend until the end of time". Perhaps it's telling that Diamond Life was recorded 20 years ago, because the lyircs on this track and the album as a whole wouldn't really hold up these days.
9. Why Can't We Live Together? (5:30)
Subtle, echoed bongos and a schmoove bass start this track up and after 60 seconds of this five and a half minute epic, the only newcomer is a punchy Hammond organ riff. As we apporach the two minute mark I'm beginning to think this track has accidentally made it onto the album and is really an instrumental track made by one those hotel lobby entertainment duos usually called something like Fahrenheit or Reflections. But no! "Tell me why, tell me why" Sade cries in the most empassioned vocals yet seen on Diamond Life. The song is unintentionally moody and no drums really kick in at all and the track relies on the bongos and it's anti-war message. Quite good, actually.
Diamond Life has a smooth and classy sheen wiped across it. All the tracks are similar in tempo, feel, atmosphere and vocals and instrumentation. That's the idea, though. Look at her other albums and even her greatest hits collection (her style never changed over 18 years of recording). And that was the point. Diamond Life was never meant to change the world, just to evoke a feeling. Chillout before chillout was invented? OK, so perhaps the album can't be classed as chillout but it's still quiet, sulky, mellow, relaxing and subliminally uplifting all the same. And isn't that what chillout's all about? But whisper it - despite my assertion that this is a love it or hate it album I do find that if I'm not in the mood for it, Diamond Life is a BIT BORING!
OTHER SADE RELEASES
Includes the Glamma Kid cover Sweetest Taboo
Stronger Than Pride (1988)
With a very fine song called Paradise
Love Deluxe (1992)
More of the same but with a 90s slant.
Best Of Sade (1994)
The only greatest hits album where all the songs sound the same?
Lover's Rock (2000)
Her comeback album.
Lover's Live (2002)
Her comeback album. Live.
LIKE THIS TRY THESE (OR VICE VERSA)
Artist: Bebel GIlberto
Album: Tanto Tempo
Why: Diamond Life in Portuguese
Artist: Swing Out Sister
Album: It's Better To Travel
Why: For Blue Mood and After Hours. Both could have appeared on Diamond Life.
Artist: Amy Winehouse
Why: A British sensation with Sade-like jazz sensibilities.
Artist: Anita Baker
Why: Smooth Sade-esque soul without the jazzy overtones.
Thanks for reading.
Apparently, it's not fashionable to like Sade. Whenever this album has been seen in my collection, people usually raise an eyebrow. Dunno why. This was Sade's first album, and I happen to really like it. For those unfamiliar with her, she possess a deep, smokey voice that sounds as though it's one step up from Paul Robeson's (ask your Grandmother). The songs demonstrate her silky tones, and that she really can hit the occasional top note too. "Your Love Is King" and "Smooth Operator" were chart hits in the early 80's, and the slow jazzy style was in deep contrast to the other sounds of that decade. Most of the other tracks fall into the category of sexy blues/jazz, that wouldn't go amiss in any setting where seduction is anticipated. "Sweet as Cherry Pie" and "Why can't we live together" are about as up tempo as it gets on here, and that is still pretty laid back. The sax playing compliments her voice and style totally, and is worth the price of the album alone. Don't let any preconceptions stop you from buying this album, although do listen to tracks from the second album before purchasing, should you like this one enough to want to get the follow up. Basically this is a real unwinder of an album, use it's slow, flowing style of jazz to best effect when setting a certain mood. Her voice is as thick as molasses, deep, velvety, and very chilled. Enjoy!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Smooth Operator
2 Your Love Is King
3 Hang On To Your Love
4 When Am I Gonna Make A Living
5 Frankie's First Affair
6 Cherry Pie
8 I Will Be Your Friend
9 Why Can't We Live Togethe