Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Teena Marie - Congo Square - 2009 - Stax

When a Lady has thrived at the epicenter of a musical movement that some initially claimed was not her birthright, and that Lady has steadfastly held that legacy down strong for 30 phenomenal years, acknowledgment, respect and celebration are in order. Today, that artist is “Lady T,” Teena Marie. 2009 marks the 30th (pearl) anniversary of Teena Marie’s recording career with the June release of her thirteenth album, "Congo Square"This is a 16-song CD, boasting all of the panoramic musicality a Teena Marie fan could ever possibly desire. Second is her fresh alignment with Stax Records that – after her Motown debut in 1979 – marks the second time Teena has been proudly affiliated with a bedrock black music institution. This Lady really has delivered some strong albums, especially after her strong "La Dona" CD in 2004. Lady T really has caught my imagination and she mixes quality with urban grooves effortlessly. "Congo Square" will thoroughly impress you and if any justice is served then you'll be ordering a copy when it's released on June 9th. The set mixes urban flavours alongside sensual, sexy efforts and it's the latter which really gets my juices flowing.

The 'duet', "Can't Last A Day", with Kids' favourite Faith Evans is my first choice - a fantastic choice for the lead single, too BUT I fail to hear anything of Miss Evans...I found this with Mary J. Blige on Chaka Khan's last CD! They cannot compete with real talent and must simply fade away into obscurity next to REAL talent! LOL. That aside this is a GREAT song and a strong piece of major label quality - such a rare commodity nowadays! The following cut, "Baby I Love You", is simply SUPERB. A sultry, sexy groove and Lady T's rap is very sensual indeed! Fans of Howard Hewett will simply swoon at the amazing beat ballad "Lovers Lane". His vocals are purely and simply angelic and what a great choice of singing partner for Teena Marie. This is simply wonderful BUT pales in comparison with the jaw-dropping ballad "Marry Me" which has 70s Philadelphia International stamped all over it. Oh, soul music rarely gets better than this! This has all the hallmarks of Dexter Wansel or Linda Creed. The strings add sweetness and the french horns knock the stuffing out of me. The melody would have easily sat well on early 80s PIR releases. This is so, so strong and thoroughly essential. From this we have the more urban but moreish "Milk 'N Honey". Great tune! This, incidentally, features her very own daughter, Rose LeBeau, on rap and very good she is too! Check out, too the beautiful jazzy Brian Bromberg cut "The Rose 'N Thorn". If you love Brian's work, Larry Gold's more classic moments or even Charles Fambrough's work then this will be just for you. Classy and jazzy it draws the curtain on a really tasty and essential CD.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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