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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Chicken Soup For The Headbanger's Soul

While fans of hard Rock music, like myself, love the window-rattling, fist-pumping drive of loud, grinding guitars and pounding drums, there are moments when we need something to cleanse our palate, like a jar of coffee beans in a perfume store.

There are many songs from a wide variety of artists that I turn to for this kind of aural therapy, but there is one such artist that I favor above all others and she goes by the name Sade. I was first introduced to Sade by my uncle Paul, who is also a big fan of Rock music but his collection was never limited to one genre. I never went to his house without a few blank cassettes in my pocket, eager to capture the latest and greatest. I remember first hearing "Smooth Operator" and "Sweetest Taboo" when MTV was in full swing with the big hair bands of the 80's and even back then it was as refreshing as I find it today.

At the dawn of the new millennium Sade released "Lovers Rock", which hosts some of my favorite songs of hers, namely "King of Sorrow" and "Every Word". I've never seen her live but I've heard her live album "Lovers Live" and she sounds every bit as good if not better than she does on her albums. Ten years later, "Soldier Of Love" was released and the title track really grabbed my attention so I got the CD on its release date, February 9, 2010. Once again, I was very pleased and each song has grown on me significantly. Favorite songs include the title track as well as " Morning Bird", "Long Hard Road" and "Skin".

Early in her music career, Sade kept the wait time between releases very short; her first 4 albums came between 1984 and 1992, with her first 2 released in the same year in the U.S. However, after her 1992 release, "Love Deluxe", 8 years passed until her "Lovers Rock" was released and then another 9 years and change before "Soldier Of Love". In March 2009, Maxwell, a fellow Sony Music recording artist and longtime friend and collaborator with Sade bandmate Stuart Matthewman, sent a message to fans via his private Facebook page in which he indicated that he had heard some of Sade's new recordings, saying, "Trust me, it's so monolithic it'll shake you in your shoes!" In June 2009, near the end of the recording process, a source from her Sony label said "She is in the studio and the album will come when it is ready. You don't wait for years for one and then rush it." That approach has obviously paid off, and not just for her fans. Sade's 2000 release, "Lovers Rock," sold 3,881,000 copies in the U.S. and the prior album, 1992's "Love Deluxe," sold 3,407,000. Since her debut, Sade has sold nearly 17 million units in the U.S. alone.

"Soldier Of Love" is Sade's first No. 1 album in 24 years, and some believe it's her long absence that played a huge part in its success. To promote her new album, Sade gave very few interviews but sang on several shows and it appears that her reticence keeps people wanting more. Doc Wynter, vice president of urban programming for Clear Channel Radio, said “The audience was really thirsting to hear more of her music”. *Insert cheesy Gatorade analogy here*.

For me, Sade is simply one of those artists that can soothe my inner beast and change my outlook on nearly any situation, and though Pearl Jam, who remains my favorite band of all time, certainly has their share of songs that have that affect on me, Sade will always be that escape I need when my ears are ringing from the noise of the world, or from the Rock that rattles my car windows.

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