1. Your Love Is King
2. Hang On To Your Love
3. Smooth Operator
5. The Sweetest Taboo
6. Is It A Crime
7. Never As Good As The First Time
8. Love Is Stronger Than Pride
10. Nothing Can Come Between Us
11. No Ordinary Love
12. Like A Tattoo
13. Kiss Of Life
14. Please Send Me Someone To Love
15. Cherish The Day
Sade and her band are noteworthy for having crafted genuinely smooth pop hits throughout the latter part of the 1980's. This retrospective cuts away the fat and presents the smooth pop aficionado with what are in truth, the better parts of Sade's work. Simply put, Sade Adu has one of the smoothest voices ever heard on mainstream radio; her voice simply floats with hazy countenance over the pulsating rhythm of the music, at once intoxicating and bewitching. The music varies from somewhat traditional R&B to Latin jazz, to soft rock and finally ends with a standard electronic pop sound. The songs are crisp, drawing tight syncopated percussion together with immaculately clean guitar melodies, intense bass lines and of course, Sade's voice - her voice can be angelic, but also intensely erotic. The lyrics are primarily concerned with the usual pop obsessions: love, romance, and heartbreak. Such themes are rendered again and again, but are done so in such an intensely visceral manner, that they gain a newly garnished luster.
Many pop standards are present on the compilation (e.g. "Smooth Operator", "The Sweetest Taboo", "Paradise", "No Ordinary Love") as well as some quality opals* you've probably missed ("Your Love is King", "Jezebel", "Kiss of Life". "The Sweetest Taboo" and "No Ordinary Love" might constitute the most darkly erotic pop tunes in recent years, both containing slow, driving bass lines, intense percussion and Sade's bare, and utterly sensual, vocal lines; both songs possess an opiate like quality, nearly suffocating and utterly addictive. The inherent sexuality of Sade's music is hard to deny; the conservatives that accused jazz and later rock of drawing out latent sexuality in the populace inadvertently identified rock's key strength as a potential art form - that being sexuality. The music is subsequently ideal for any romantic or, ahem, sexual interlude.
Anyone who's into really smooth pop with a strong sensual vibe will now be officially directed towards this retrospective; it will no doubt be waiting in a used CD bargain bin in a music store near you.
* Hasn't the word "gem" become somewhat redundant in music reviews?
Review by James Slone
Review date: 09/2000