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.

The first cut on this album, "East Babe" is a pure funk Hip-Hop tribute to where she came from (East Bay in the San Francisco area,) but it's not an indicator of what's in store for the whole album. This song has the most intense "Minneapolis Sound" and some Cab Calaway and uses genuine instruments such as the base guitar (trust me, you won't have to fiddle with the settings to hear the base guitar...) Electric Piano and Organ and genuine drums. The song is a bit braggadocios and might give the impression that this album is all about her, but that's the farthest from the truth...

"That Ain't No Way" is a commentary about current politics and is a musical reminder of Christ's commandment of "Love Thy Neighbor." It also comes off as a fight song/rally cry for our fellow citizens to take a closer look at who we're voting for.

"Before We Say Good Bye" is a great "Rhythm And Blues" song - It's not a "good bye" song like the title might suggest, rather it's a message for everyone in a long-term relationship who is hitting some rough spots: Let's remember back to when our love was strong and take a look at what we lost and fight to bring it back.

Baby Girl - While I wrote in a few paragraphs above that all the songs on this desk keep getting better and better, this is actually one of my favorites of the disk. Granted, it's very sappy and sentimental - it's a love song to her daughter, and also flavored with a "Vintage-Paris Bestro" is Charles McNeil's Saxophone.

As Of Today has a sound that reminds me of Janet Jackson's earlier work and of the song "If I Can't Have You" by Yvonne Elliman. A solid Dance Song...

"Next To You" is a very hypotic song which reminds me why Jazz is the perfect medium to express thoughts and ideas and feelings. RAD has been able to take just a few words and intertwine them with a sensual rythem that embodies the feelings and emotions of a deeply passionate and intimate moment that almost makes me feel as if I'm violating her privacy while at the same time reminding me of the personal moments with the woman I love. 

"Be Free" has some solid Latin and African beats with in instrumental section that could have gone on for much longer then the whole song's 6 minutes and 48 Seconds, and reminds me of the work done in "Romancing The Stone" by Alan Silvestri.

"In Time Win Love" finishes off the album with the best funk high energy song of the whole album. Everything else on the album lead to this moment, rather then just ending the album on a quite and slow note. RAD and members of the band jam for 11 minutes and 43 seconds, as if this is the critical mass explosion that's the result of energy and jazz-karma that had been building to this point.

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.

More information on this artist and music can be found on her website.
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Written content copyright Eric "Renderking" Fisk,2007.
© Copyright 2007 - The Fedora Chronicles.