Classics: Sade – Smooth Operator (Portrait)
Although ‘Smooth Operator’ saw the light back in 1984 as the third single from Sade‘s ‘Diamond Life’ debut-album, this is the song that would get Ibadan, Nigeria-native Helen Folasade Adu, OBE and her band (named after her name) to sign a record deal with Epic Records. A band featuring Paul S. Denman (bass), Andrew Hale (keyboards) and Stuart Matthewman (sax). As many musicians she previously happened to collaborate with alongside others in a London combo named Pride.
This is most likely where she would meet Ray St. John who co-wrote ‘Smooth Operator with her. The track becoming a Soul/Jazz manifesto with the rest being history. Besides, I wouldn’t be surprised the band found some influence in Steely Dan‘s music. And more precisely ‘Do It Again’. As usual, we welcome your feeling about this…
Everything related to Helen Folasade Adu seems to be synonymous with distinction and elegance. From the how she looks to the way she and her musicians have been evolving since the first half of the 80’s. With her silky and vibrant interpretations and her sophisticated music speakin’ for themselves.
Upon completing a 3 year course work in fashion design, and later modelling briefly, Sade began backup singing with British band Pride. By then, she eventually formed a songwriting partnership with the band’s guitarist/saxophonist Stuart Matthewman. The twosome, backed by Pride‘s rhythm section. It was not long before her solo performances of ‘Smooth Operator’ attracted the attention of record companies. And, by 1983 Sade and Matthewman split from Pride along with keyboardist Andrew Hale, bassist Paul Denman and drummer Paul Cook to form Sade (the band)…
It took about six weeks to record Sade‘s debut-album – ‘Diamond Life’ – which sold over 1.2 millions copies in Britain. Earning them the Brit Award for Best British Album in 1985. Meanwhile bringing them to an international status with more than a 6 million sales worldwide.
‘Your Love Is King’ saw the light as the album’s lead single in February 1984, remaining as Sade‘s biggest hit in the UK. Meanwhile ‘Smooth Operator’ would become the band’s first #1 Stateside. Although their first US single release would be ‘Hang On To Your Love’.
Sade released their second album – ‘Promise’ by the end of 1985. It spawned two singles, ‘Never As Good As The First Time’ and ‘The Sweetest Taboo’. And the following year, she made her acting debut in ‘Absolute Beginners’. Thus sharing the bill with the late David Bowie and Patsy Kensit.
Sade‘s third album, ‘Stronger Than Pride’, hit the streets by the beginning of May 1988. And, like its predecessors, it became a commercial success. The album was popularized by 4 singles and most notably its second offshot ‘Paradise’, which peaked at #1 position on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart, becoming the band’s first single to do so. Although we could hardly omit to mention the presence of ‘Nothing Can Come Between Us’ among its definitive highlights.
And the history was to repeat itself 4 years later with the release of the band’s 4th album, ‘Love Deluxe’. Featuring jewels such as ‘No Ordinary Love’, ‘Kiss Of Life’ and ‘Cherish The Day’. Not to mention the vibrant ‘Pearls’. But also markin’ soon after the beginning of an 8 year hiatus for Sade & Co.
As a result, the band unleased their fifth album – ‘Lovers Rock’ – in 2000 with the smooth ‘By Your Side’ standing as its absolute peaktime. Following the release of the latter, Sade took a ten-year hiatus, during which she raised her daughter and moved to the Caribbean. Eventually appearing on the Red Hot Organization album, ‘Red Hot + Riot’. A compilation album in honor of fellow Nigerian musician, Fela Kuti. Meanwhile delivering a remix of ‘By Your Side’.
Sade‘s sixth album, ‘Soldier Of Love’, came to light in February 2010. Its title track winning the Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals at the 53rd Grammy Awards ceremony. The singer makin’ her come back 8 years after. This with the release of ‘Flower Of The Universe’ as the lead single of the ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ OST. Then, eight months later, with the vibrant ‘The Big Unknown’. One of the definitive highlights from the ‘Widows’ OST.