Rad - East Babe
According to one of the press releases that I received with this album to review, Rad (short for Rose Ann Dimalanta) had recently left Prince's band - The New Power Generation, his studio "Paisley Park," and chose not to go on tour with The Artist on this upcoming tour that's being heralded with much anticipation and promoted as being a "come back" tour. She left all that behind to go to work on her latest album, "East Babe." It's a pretty bold thing to do, leave a secure gig and go off to do your own thing with no guarantee of success. For RAD, the gamble pays off with high dividends paid to the listener. Ironically or fittingly - this album "East Babe" is her "Purple Rain." Yes, she's made distinctive music before this album, but this is the one that will put her on the map and with the success of this album will come the obligation from her fans (like me, now) to continue to duplicate it.
I'm a fan of Prince's work, even though it's hard to explain why his work has a place on The Music Section of The Fedora Chronicles. Prince's work is a blend of Big Band Leader' showmanship, 50's Jazz, 60's and 70's Psychedelica and 1980's Pop. If anything, Prince's work during the 1980's defined the sound of that decade. People who have worked with Prince seem to carry on with his "Minnesota Sound." But unfortunately their carriers drift into obscurity in as his influence diminishes. That was true of all of his protégé's until now.
RAD has the benefit of having a full education and career before going to work with Prince. She graduated from Berkley in 1990 with a major in Jazz Studies, worked with many different other Jazz Musicians RAD was already an accomplished performer before she went to work with Prince and his new band NPG. Since she was her own person before she joined Prince's Paisley Park, she'll no doubt be blazing new trails where those who came before her feared to tread.
This album can best be described as a pure Jazz and Funk album that has just enough of the "The Minneapolis Sound," but with out any synthesizers, sampling and looping. The sound is pure and unique thanks in part to her husband/producer Michael Kirsch and artists such as of David Garibaldi (drummer), Ray Obiedo (guitarist) Michael Spiro (percussionist,) Charles McNeal (Saxophonist,) Norbert Stachel (Soprano saxophone,) Sikiru Adepoju (Nigerian master drummer,) John Blackwell (drums,) and bassist Marc van Wageningen... many of whom are also musicians who spent time in Paisley Park.
Almost every song on this album is better then the previous one.
"East Babe" is album that has a greater narrative, it's about a woman who's fighting stereo types while being a committed wife and mother. She's not just a musician, she also has some pretty deep thoughts that are hidden (or boldly placed) through out this fun-sounding album. This isn't just fun mindless Pop-Styled Jazz, Funk and R&B music, some of the tunes are thought provoking and others are emotionally evoking.
It's not an album that you can just leave in the back ground as white noise, it commands your attention. Many times I tried to just play this album while working and I caught myself sitting back in my chair trying to follow what she's singing and trying to tell. Anyone who listens to a lot of Jazz, Funk, Rhythm and Blues and even some New Age can tell the sounds on this album are all the real deal. I defy you not to dance.
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Written content copyright Eric "Renderking" Fisk,2007.