Helen Folasade Adu, Stuart Matthewman, Andrew Hale and Paul Denman are a very rare entity in music. Not many artists can stay away for almost a decade and virtually pick up from where they left off creatively and commercially. Best known as Sade, they underscore their enduring popularity by delivering yet another greatest hits collection though they only have released 6 studio albums over 3 decades. “The Ultimate Collection” spans their complete 27 years of recordings, includes 4 new songs, 2 of which are remixes over a 2-Cd set. (A special edition, available by mail order only includes a DVD of some of their rarely seen music videos).
When Sade arrived on the scene in the mid-80s, conceptually they presented an album that targeted a more sophisticated, urbane audience the way “Dr. Buzzard’s Original Band” did in the 70s and “The Buena Vista Social Club” would do in the 90s. “Diamond Life” was the yuppie, guppie and buppie album of its time. Her confident, sensual quasi-jazz vocals on the title track and “Smooth Operator” instantly made the listener more attentive. Her fascinating physical beauty completed the picture. It was a global phenomena and made them instant stars.
Throughout the years, her albums, particularly “Promise” and “Love Deluxe” captured the devastation of heartbreak in “Is it a Crime?” to the devastation in genocidal starvation in sub-Saharan Africa in “Pearls”. The Sade band also celebrate love in extraordinary songs like “No Ordinary Love” and more simply in “Kiss of Life”. All of these songs can be found in the 2 CD set, “Sade: The Ultimate Collection”. This follows “The Best of Sade” from 1994 that included songs from 4 studio albums. “The Ultimate Collection” comes only after two studio albums and one live album. To augment this retrospective, Sade includes 4 new tracks, two of which are remixes, “The Moon and the Sky” featuring Jay Z from the opening track of last year’s “Soldier of Love” album. The stronger of the two remixes is the Neptunes remix of “Lover Rock’s” “By Your Side” (which is also featured in its original studio version). In honesty, the bonus tracks feel a little skimpy.
Their albums have always glided effortless between “dinner music”, “smooth jazz” to “romantic rendezvous’”. But as the music seques beautifully, don’t miss delicate gems like “Bullet Proof Soul” or the life affirming “Love is Stronger than Pride”.
In an Mp3 era, Greatest Hits compilations don’t resonate the way they once did. With your own personal music library, consumers have had the power to create their own compilations since CD burning became a fact of life. Its commercial relevance is hard to know at this point. The inclusion of the music videos on the CD/DVD combo is a reminder of the awesome talents of European director, Sophie Muller. The videos are European in feel and you get a glimpse of maybe what Sade does when she goes into exile. Sade seems to have an affinity for small galician villages in southern and central Spain. Some of the more memorable music videos include “Never as Good as the First Time”, “Kiss of Life”, “Soldier of Love” and the exquisite “No Ordinary Love”.
The group has kicked off their world tour in Italy. It is scheduled to hit these shores by the end of summer. They have been marketing the tour since the end of last year. Her “Lover’s Rock” tour was so successful that it had a rare second run of large arenas and culminated in 2002’s “Lover’s Live” CD/DVD combo. India.arie had just broken through with her defining “Acoustic Soul” album. She opened up the tour. It was one of the most captivatingly produced shows that imaginable.....it had just the right touch of special effects. This tour promises to be no less compelling. Audiences will warmly welcome back the Sade band for an elegant evening of elegant music from an elegant lady and her band.
About the Writer
K. Bonin has worked in the music industry for the last three decades. He describes himself as "a child of Motown and the classic rock era." Having spent the balance of his career at Arista Records, his experience and passion gives him a unique perspective on music and the music industry.