This album has a distinctly English ‘80s feel to it. My six-word review of this album would be:
Sade with a male vocalist, meh.
The main reason I chose this album for my Old/New Albums series is because D’Angelo has covered “Wishing Well” in concert. As I’ve reiterated many times on this blog, if it’s good enough for D’, I want to at least have some cursory knowledge of it.
The problem is that I just generally don’t care about this album. It’s not like the music is offensive to my ears, it’s just that in the entire canon of recorded music of the Western world, there is nearly an infinity of music I’d rather listen to more than ol’ TTD.
So why am I so indifferent to this album? His voice isn’t horrible. It actually has a nice variety to it throughout this whole album. Some songs are very clear (the a cappella “As Yet Untitled”) and sometimes he’s got this pretty killer rasp happening (“Wishing Well”).
Maybe it’s that his voice seems a bit tired, like I’ve heard it a million times before. He’s got a very R&B flavor to it at times, and that swaggery vibrato has been done to death in neo-soul.
So how about the music? I want to come back to the Sade comparison. As a kid, the science center in my city was called the Science Station, and I remember going there a fair amount. On the second floor, they had this weird exhibit on sound and one interactive display was a set of PVC pipes of varying lengths that went from the ceiling and curved back upwards so they opened in front of you. The tops of the pipes descended like organ pipes, and there were a couple rubber insoles (like Dr. Scholl’s) that you could take and bang on the pipe openings and they created a very breathy musical note, kind of like a gigantic pan flute.
I bring this up because Sade’s music has always reminded me of that PVC pipe organ, and that airy tone is all over the place on ITHATTTD, hence, the comparison to Sade. It’s not a sound I particularly care for, but regardless, there are a few songs on this album that I enjoy listening to.
I think in the end, this album seems decently derivative. The songs that I like the most sound very much like Prince. Guess who else was making music back in 1987? Prince, and you know what he gave to us in 1987? Sign O’ The Times. Absolute classic. On top of that, Prince recorded (although didn’t release for another seven years) his return to his funk roots, The Black Album. ITHATTTD can’t really touch that output, even at D’Arby’s best.
And the derivation is probably the biggest reason this album gets placed low on my ranking list. I’m going to go listen to The Black Album now.
Top 3 Tunes:
- Wishing Well
- Who’s Lovin’ You