Thursday, October 27, 2011
REVIEW: NEW MUSIC FROM FDELUXE (AKA "THE FAMILY") AFTER 26 YEARS - GASLIGHT
When I found out that The Family, a group Prince had put together who released one single album in 1985, was regrouping for an album, I was beyond excited. Uncontrollably excited. Super excited. Got it? The group's music on their self-titled debut album was written almost entirely by Prince, giving credit to various band members as he usually did, and St. Paul (Peterson) and Susannah Melvoin, twin sister of Revolution member Wendy and Prince's fiance at the time, had their voices dubbed in over Prince's original vocals. None of this takes away from the fact the the album The Family was one of THE cornerstones of the Minneapolis sound that Prince pioneered in the 80s. The group was made up of St. Paul on lead vocals, who had formerly been a member of The Time, Susannah Melvoin on backup vocals, Jellybean Johnson and Jerome Benton, also formerly of The Time, and Eric Leeds on horns. The album contains the very first appearance of the song Nothing Compares 2 U, which of course was later made famous by Sinead O'Connor. One single was released, The Screams of Passion, which was a modest R&B hit. St. Paul quickly became disillusioned with the direction of the band and his lack of control and left soon after the release of the album. Prince dissolved the band and took it's remaining members into The Revolution. Susannah Melvoin went on to sing backup for artists like Roger Waters, Eric Clapton and Mike Oldfield, among others, and has performed vocals on Wendy & Lisa's albums. As a songwriter, she has co-written songs performed by Madonna (Candy Perfume Girl from Ray of Light) and Eric Clapton, among others. St. Paul released his debut album in 1986 and went on to perform with and produce tracks for Oleta Adams, toured as a memeber of the Steve Miller Band, and opened for Donny Osmond and kept quite a following over the years. Flash forward 26 years. The band, probably due to Prince, is unable to use the name "The Family" so they go with fDeluxe and here we are at the LONG overdue release of their followup album, Gaslight. Whew. Lot's of history. Well, turns out fDeluxe is no mere protege to The Purple One. Gaslight is a funky, sexy album full of would-be hits (if they were all young and spry..DAMN AGEISM!!) and a wonderfully updated Minneapolis sound. There is not one song on here that doesn't have an amazing melody and expert musicianship. Better yet, Susannah FINALLY gets her turn on lead vocals quite a bit, and it's pure sex and perfection. The gorgeous Lover, co-written by Wendy Melvoin, and Beautiful You fit perfectly with all the sensual ballads produced by Prince in his heyday. Jams like Gaslight and @8, featuring the incredible horns of Eric Leeds, are fresh Jazz/Funk instant classics, while Over the Canyon and Sanctified rock and roll in a dreamy mix of guitars and strings. Another standout is When You Go, which has St. Paul and Susannah's co-lead vocals presented raw and tender over a beautiful harp accompaniment. I have to say, this album is even more diverse and magical than their Prince-produced work in 1985. It's good to know their years of experience and talent have only added to the epic, legendary Minneapolis sound. Buy this album on iTunes or from the fDeluxe website. It's really grownup, sexy and beautiful. I can't recommend it enough. But I'm trying. Here is
a preview, trailer for Gaslight from their youtube chanel with snippets of Sanctified and my fave Lover. my favorite track from the album, Lover. Enjoy and, seriously, GET THIS RECORD!!