To celebrate the 40th anniversary of their founding, an ode to Sade’s fifth album.
Some artists transcend taste, are so naturally skilled at conveying universal emotion that their creations seem somehow unimpeachable. Nina Simone, John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane, Motorhead, Prince, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Can, the Shaggs, J Dilla, Daniel Johnston, Kendrick Lamar – all arrived as if predestined for greatness. Sade Adu, who as the singer of her namesake group Sade has graced international stages since the early 1980s and released six albums of smooth, soulful work that unites R&B, cocktail jazz, soul and roots reggae, is another such artist.
Formed in London in 1982, the group Sade at its birth featured Adu, guitarist-saxophonist-songwriter Stuart Matthewman, bassist Paul Denman and drummer Paul Anthony Cooke, and were born from the ashes of another outfit, Pride.
But you don’t need Sade’s whole biography here. What you should know is that sixteen years after they released their debut, Diamond Life, Sade and band unveiled their fifth album. Called Lover’s Rock, it was inspired by the smooth 1970s reggae subgenre of the same name, but in a singularly Sade-ian fashion. Best known for hits “By Your Side” and “King of Sorrow,” the album revels both in bottom-end bass tones and through sibilant, skittery high-hat patterns.
That it was produced by Sade and Mike Pela is notable. The group has long co-produced its work, but Pela’s history stretches back to the early 1970s, when he worked with British artists including Electric Light Orchestra, Roy Wood, Fairport Convention and Nico.
The below EPK (electronic press kit) was produced by Sony Music clip in conjunction with the release of Lover’s Rock. It features Sade offering a track-by-track rundown of the songs’ origins and creations. For those not familiar with the record, it’s a fantastic introduction to a late-night classic.
And, just because, here’s an official Neptunes remix of “By Your Side”:
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