Sade: The Ultimate Collection
Singing ever since the eighties, Sade’s
voice melts this reviewer’s heart like warm butter. It’s a sign of a true
musician that Nigerian-English singer Sade Adu and her band have endured three
decades of the music business and continue to produce smooth, delicious
jazz-influenced r&b/pop music.
Just one year after their six studio album Soldier of Love (their first
album to contain new songs in almost ten years), Sade are back with The Ultimate Collection, their second
greatest hits compilation, following the 1994 Best of. Released this May, the 29-track, two-disc album is
testament to Sade’s extensive and impressive music career, containing many classics from
the eighties and nineties such as restaurant and elevator favourites ‘Smooth Operator’ and ‘No Ordinary Love ‘. The album also contains four new songs: ‘Love Is Found’, ‘I Would
Never Have Guessed’, a cover of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Still in Love With You’ as well
as a remix of ‘The Moon and The Sky’ that oddly features Jay-Z.
This is definitely an album that Sade fans
will appreciate, with careful re-mastering of all the obvious hits, such
as ‘Jezebel’, ‘Pearl’ and ‘Immigrant’, which in this reviewer’s
opinion, are three of her most underrated and genius songs. It’s also
interesting to note that lead singer Adu co-wrote every single song on
album except for the Thin Lizzy cover ‘Still in Love With You’, which
sings with her trademark vulnerability, backed by a simple acoustic
background choir vocals.
‘The Moon and The Sky’ Remix featuring
Jay-Z is one of the few songs that doesn’t really work for this reviewer: the
original track itself is quite powerful, but the remixed beat combined with
Jay-Z’s hard rapping vocals feels like a weak attempt to be trendy at the
expense of Sade’s smooth sophistication. The combination of Jay-Z’s toughness
with her delicate vocals just doesn’t seem right to us.
‘By Your Side (Neptunes Remix)’ takes a
perfectly great Sade song and adds the Neptunes’ trademark beats and synths to
it. It’s an easily forgettable song, and thankfully the original ‘By Your Side’
is on the compilation; so skip to that and erase the former from your memory.
‘I Would Never Have Guessed’ is a haunting
track backed by a hallow piano tune and a single backing vocal, as Sade does
what she does best: tear at our heartstrings delicately with her magnificent
Hands down, ‘Love is Found’ is
the best new track, with a stirring orchestral intro that bursts
suddenly into a heavy beat backed by an electrical guitar, bass and hand-claps
that juxtapose nicely with her sweet, soft vocals. This is the track that we have on
repeat all day long, and should definitely be one of the album’s hit singles.
How this band has lasted for three decades
without world domination remains a total mystery to
this reviewer; but then again, their timeless style and sophistication has
helped them transition into the new decade seamlessly where other eighties
bands like Duran Duran have crashed and burned a long time ago.