This week commemorates the 25th anniversary of the release of Love Deluxe, the fourth studio album by the Queen of 80s Smooth Jazz, Sade.
Born Helen Folasade Adu in Ibadan, Nigeria, this London-reared musician burst onto the music scene with her eponymous band in 1984 and their debut album, Diamond Life. Since then, Sade’s voice, hallmarked by dulled, elegant pain, has provided the soundtrack to many a baby-making session, wedding song, and HBO show scene.
Love Deluxe is one for the ages though, and starts in sophistically-tortured, classic Sade form with its first track, “No Ordinary Love”: I gave you all the love I’ve got/ I gave you more than I could give/…I gave you all that I had inside/ and you took my love.
Heartbreaking. But so damn good.
“Cherish the Day,” the album’s equally-popular sad ode to love, appears further along the album; while it doesn’t pack as much of a punch as the NOL, it gets the job done. Sandwiched between them both however, are two lesser-discussed (yet ever-perfect!) ballads that give voice to the lovelorn and recovering love addict alike. In “I Couldn’t Love You More” and “Like a Tattoo,” Sade reminds us how much love hurts, but how if given the chance to choose, she’d engage in the heartbreak all over again.
“Feel No Pain,” falls outside the typical Sade trope, as she laments about wanting her loved ones to have a good life, despite the struggles and hardships that plague them:
Mama’s been laid off
Papa been laid off
My brother’s been laid off
For more than two years now
Ooh, can’t get a job
Billy can’t get a job
Ooh, they gotta listen to the blues
Help them to strive
Help them to move on
Help them to have some future
Help them to live long
Help them to live life
Help them to smile
Don’t let them stay home and listen to the blues
All sad stuff. But we love it.
The impact of Love Deluxe and the rest of Sade’s discography remain decades later, as a new generation cites Sade as a musical and creative influence. Many of them weren’t even born when Love Deluxe was released, which gives testament to the staying power of an artist that doesn’t exactly make the headlines nowadays. Drake even had an image of Sade’s face tattooed on his ribcage. Random, but we’ll allow it.
Sade’s list of hits solidly plants itself in the smooth jazz/ R&B canon, making her one of the Greatest of All Time. With over thirty years in the game, Sade can still make it rock at karaoke parties. Pretty impressive for a woman of a certain age who releases an album–and sells out its corresponding tour– once every ten years or so. Without a doubt, we’ll be waiting for her next work, braided ponytail, gold hoops, red lipstick and all.
Love Deluxe; Artist: Sade; Epic Records, 1992
Track list: 1.”No Ordinary Love,” 2.”Feel No Pain,” 3.”I Couldn’t Love You More,” 4.”Like a Tattoo,” 5.”Kiss of Life,” 6. “Cherish the Day,” 7.”Pearls,” 8. “Bullet Proof Soul,” 9. “Mermaid”.