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, 24 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Introducing The Hardline According To Terence Trent D'Arby (Audio CD)
Terence Trent D'Arby (or Sananda Matreiya, as he is now known) has, simply put, one of the greatest soul voices of his generation. Absolutely stunning live performances and a high tenor voice with both power, fragility, tone and range meant that Terence Trent D'Arby seemed to have the world at his feet when he exploded onto the 1987 music scene with 'Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D'Arby'. Yet he never quite took off as expected. A combination of bad timing on the release (1987, the prime-time of Prince and Michael Jackson), reports of an out-of-control (justified?) ego, much-ridiculed statements that his debut album would have been 'the most important debut since the Beatles released 'Please Please Me' and record companies not quite knowing exactly where to place and promote D'Arby worked against him becoming a household name. A weak sophomore effort 'Neither Fish Nor Flesh' and further experimental records subsequently which were never quite as consistent sonically as 'Introducing the Hardline' meant that his music will always be overshadowed by his ego. Possessing a significantly richer voice than Michael Jackson, and much more versatile vocally than Prince, it really is quite a shame that D'Arby is so overlooked.
'Hardline' opens with some strange static before bursting through your speakers with 'If You Go to Heaven'. 'If You Let Me Stay' and 'Wishing Well' are tracks two and three, and are probably some of his most well-known tracks, and two of the most successful singles on the album. The searing highs of the chorus of the former and the incredibly catchy latter will remain in your head for a while (in particular, the synth lines of 'Wishing Well' - you'll be whistling them for days!). The guitar driven 'I'll Never Turn my Back on You' is followed by 'Dance Little Sister', another hit from the album which opens with a bit of humour. The next three songs are often overlooked but 'Seven More Days', 'Let's Go Forward' and 'Rain' (a peculiar, soulful remake of a classic nursery rhyme - it shouldn't work, but it does!) are worthy additions to the album. 'Sign Your Name', the third single from the album, went straight to number 2 in the Uk and number 4 in the US, and is a ballad that really shows off Terence's voice. 'As Yet Untitled' is a track that divides opinions - as a completely acapella 5 and a half minute song in the midst of an album full of danceable soul, it is understandable, and perhaps an early indication of the strange decisions that would later come to punctuate his unsteady career. That being said, the multi-tracked vocal without accompaniments shows the incredible control and power that D'Arby possessed. Finally, the closer, a cover of the Smokey Robinson's (Made famous by a young Michael Jackson in the Jackson 5) 'Who's Loving You' is without a doubt my favourite track from the album. With just the right amount of vocal acrobatics and buckets and buckets of soul, it is probably the most complete version of the song around.
Although a 'Greatest Hits' collection is also available covering five of the hits from "Introducing the Hardline', I would recommend picking this album up as well because as a whole, it really is quite spectacular. While history made sure that it wasn't the most 'important' debut of since the Beatles, it was arguably one of the best.
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