Sade – Stronger Than Life (1988)

FrontCover1.jpgStronger Than Pride is the third studio album by English band Sade (Adu). It was released by Epic Records in the United States on 5 April 1988 and in the United Kingdom on 3 May 1988. In September 2018, Pitchfork placed the album at number 37 on its list of The 200 Best Albums of the 1980s. (by wikipedia)

After two LPs with little or no energy, Sade demonstrated some intensity and fire on her third release. Whether that was just an attempt to change the pace a bit or a genuine new direction, she had more animation in her delivery on such songs as “Haunt Me,” “Give It Up,” and the hit “Paradise.” Not that she was suddenly singing in a soulful or bluesy manner; rather, Sade’s dry and introspective tone now had a little more edge, and the lyrics were ironic as well as reflective. This was her third consecutive multi-platinum album, and it matched the two-million-plus sales level of her debut. (by Ron Wynn)

Like Wally Pipp, who took a day off from the Yankee lineup and was permanently replaced by Lou Gehrig, Sade has risked usurpation by more talented players during her long weekend away from recording. In that three-year break, the soft-female-soul market, which the remarkable success of her 1984 debut stimulated, has been filled by a rush of other artists, some far superior (Anita Baker, Regina Belle), some nearly inept (Swing Out Sister). But Sade needn’t worry about being eclipsed by more talented singers – the key to her appeal is not the pure prowess of her voice but its poise and presence. In lieu of Baker’s gospel-based emotions, Sade offers cool composure. She has designed a distinctive sound and established herself as a diva simply by assuming the image of one.

Singles

If it’s possible, Stronger Than Pride is even wispier than Sade’s two previous albums; it’s so thin and understated that it leaves a mist hanging over the turntable (or, more likely, the CD player). Her lyrics are mostly brief pillow notes, with their hooks chanted over and over.

Serving as producer for the first time, Sade curbs Stuart Matthewman’s dramatic sax lines, the crucial ingredient of “Smooth Operator,” in favor of an ensemble grace centered on the deft bump of Paul Denman’s bass. Brisk urban tracks like the hit “Paradise” alternate with acoustic material inspired by Brazilian bossa nova, but the sensual ambiance is soon spoiled by the dearth of melodies; the album is so tasteful and restrained it’s dull. (by Rob Tannenbaum – Rolling Stone Nr. 532)

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Personnel:
Sade Adu (vocals)
Paul S. Denman (bass)
Andrew Hale (keyboards)
Stuart Matthewman (guitar, saxophone)
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Martin Ditcham (drums, percussion)
Gordon Hunte (guitar on 02. + 08.)
Jake Jacas (trombone)
James McMillan (trumpet)
Leroy Osbourne (vocals)
Gavyn Wright (violin on 04.)

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Tracklist:
01. Love Is Stronger Than Pride (Adu/Hale/Matthewman) 4.20
02. Paradise (Adu/Hale/Matthewman/Denman) 4.05
03. Nothing Can Come Between Us (Adu/Matthewman/Hale) 4.25
04. Haunt Me (Adu/Matthewman) 5.53
05. Turn My Back On You (Adu/Hale/Matthewman) 6.09
06. Keep Looking (Adu/Hale) 5.24
07. Clean Heart (Adu/Matthewman/Hale) 4.04
08. Give It Up (Adu/Matthewman/Hale) 3.53
09. I Never Thought I’d See The Day (Adu/Osbourne) 4.16
10. Siempre Hay Esperanza (Matthewman/Adu/Osbourne) 5.16

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