Lovers Rock (album)

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Lovers Rock
Studio album by Sade
Released 13 November 2000 (2000-11-13)
Recorded September 1999 – August 2000;
Deliverance Studios, Sarm Hook End
(London)
El Cortijo Studios
(San Pedro de Alcántara, Spain)
Genre
Length 44:10
Label Epic
Producer
Sade chronology
The Best of Sade
(1994)
Lovers Rock
(2000)
Lovers Live
(2002)
Singles from Lovers Rock
  1. "By Your Side"
    Released: 13 October 2000 (2000-10-13)
  2. "King of Sorrow"
    Released: 12 March 2001 (2001-03-12)

Lovers Rock is the fifth studio album by English band Sade, first released on 13 November 2000 by Epic Records. Following the release of Love Deluxe (1992), the band began an eight-year hiatus, during which time some band members began recording with American musician Maxwell and produced his debut album Urban Hang Suite. Following the group's Love Deluxe tour, Stuart Matthewman, Paul Spencer Denman and Andrew Hale formed the group Sweetback. During the eight-year hiatus Sade would experience media scrutiny and would later go on to give birth to her first child.

Lovers Rock was titled after the romantic strain of reggae also known as Lovers Rock, which Sade listened to in her youth.[1] Lovers Rock was seen as a departure from the band's previous Jazz style, opting for a wider musical style which included elements of Soul, R&B, soft rock, folk, dub, reggae and lovers rock. The album's production has been characterised as spare, with simple arrangements and reggae flourishes. A concept album the lyrics focus on both the positive and the negative sides of love, the album's lyrical content also touches upon political themes.

Upon release Lovers Rock was met with generally positive reviews from music critics, who praised the band's musical direction, the album went on to earn Sade the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album.[2] Commercially the album was a success reaching number eighteen on the UK Albums Chart and number three on the US Billboard 200. It has since been certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA),[3] having sold 3.9 million copies in the United States by February 2010.[4] The album was promoted with two singles - By Your Side and King of Sorrow - and was further promoted with the band's tour entitled the Lovers Rock Tour.

Background[edit]

"Love Deluxe" was released as the band's third studio album on 26 October 1992, the album peaked at number three on the US Billboard 200[5] and has sold 3.4 million copies in the United States.[6] The album was later certified four times platinum by the RIAA for shipments of four million copies.[7] The album was also commercially successful else where reaching number one in France,[8] and reaching the top ten in New Zealand,[9] Sweden,[10] Switzerland[11] and the UK.[12] Following the release of "Love Deluxe", Sade took an eight-year hiatus, during this time she came under media scrutiny with rumors of depression and addiction and later went on to give birth to her first child.[13] During this time the other members of the band Matthewman, Denman, and Hale went on to other projects, including the low-key Sweetback, which released a self-titled album in 1996. Matthewman also played a major role in the development of Maxwell's career, providing instrumentation and production work for the R&B singer's first two albums.[14]

Recording[edit]

The album was partly recorded in London and San Pedro de Alcántara (pictured)

Lovers Rock was recorded in only a year, and was influenced by Sade's experiences during the eight-year hiatus.[13] The album's recording began in September 1999 and finished in August 2000, the album was recorded at three locations the Deliverance Studios and Sarm Hook End both in London and the El Cortijo Studios in San Pedro de Alcántara, Spain.[15] The band produced the album with Adu doing the album's arrangement and production, Andrew Hale served as the album's keyboards and programmer, Stuart Matthewman served as the album's guitarist, programmer, woodwind player whilst Paul S. Denman provided the album's bass.[15] Mike Pela helped with the co-production of the album and its recording, Andy 'Nipper' Davies served as the assistant engineer whilst Tom Coyne mastered "Lovers Rock".[15]

Additional help came from a variety of people Karl Van Den Bossche supplied the album's percussion, while Nick Ingman supplied the string arrangements on the song "King of Sorrow".[15] Andy Nice provided the cello on "Every Word" and Janusz Podrazik provided keyboards on two of the album's songs "Immigrant" and "It's Only Love That Gets You Through", additional vocals for the album came from vocalist Leroy Osbourne.[15] The album's recording and themes were inspired by Sade's experiences during the previous decade, particularly of how she had become preoccupied with the complexity of other people's lives and extremely unhappy.[13]

Content[edit]

Lover's Rock is ironically a collection of songs made up of relatively sparse arrangements. Most of the compositions are founded on acoustic guitar with gently applied beats. With the songs intimately fixated on the themes of love, loss and rejection, her delicate phrasing, delivery and deft use of repetition often imbues a deeper meaning than the lyrics themselves suggest.

— Del F. Cowie[16]

Unlike Sade's previous work Lovers Rock did not contain saxophones or instrumentation, but instead spare, deceptively simple arrangement—sometimes no more than an acoustic guitar.[13] The album's music borrowed reverb and echo effects from dub reggae as well as an ease and fluidity, tougher beats and basslines, from R&B.[13] Ed Hogan of AllMusic stated that "Lovers Rock" was the first album by the band that contained a more experimental sound with the infusion of mainstream rock elements and strummed guitars.[17] According to Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone, Lovers Rock has a "light groover", with each song lasting around five minutes, Sheffield continued to state that the drumming on the album continues through each song, with "slight reggae flourishes" throughout.[18] Lover's Rock was described as a collection of songs with sparse arrangements, based upon acoustic guitars with gently applied beats.[16]

'Lovers Rock' was seen as offering a more stripped down, subtle backdrop than the band's previous work, the album's production saw the use of modern dance beats and reggae.[19] Lovers Rock was described as a concept album by a reviewer from Slant Magazine, who stated the album was lyrically a "soundtrack for lovers, lovers who are in love and making love and lovers who have been scorned." The reviewer from "Slant Magazine" also noted political themes of two of the album's songs, "Slave Song" and "Immigrant", which were noted as social statements.[20] Lovers Rock contains a continuous composition, with each song leading to the next with a "united flow."[20] The album's lyrics were described as being fixated on the themes of love, loss and rejection.[16]

The album opens with the lead single "By Your Side", a hymnlike song that received comparisons to "A Whiter Shade of Pale" and "No Woman No Cry," lyrically Sade insists she'll never leave someone in trouble.[21] "Flow" is sonically a mixture of folky acoustic guitar, slow-paced hip-hop loops, and layered harmonies.[20] "King of Sorrow" explores the complexities of a faltering relationship, in which Sade is torn between what she's invested and the opportunities she might be missing.[20] "The Sweetest Gift is an acoustic song,[19] that according to the booklet, is dedicated to the Rainbow Trust Children's Charity caring for children who have a life-threatening or terminal illness and their families, both in their own homes and at the Trust's two UK family respite centres.[15] "Slave Song" is lyrically a social statement, calling for an awareness of history and the sensibility to rise above it, the song's concept is introduced through lyrics like; "Teach my beloved children who have been enslaved/To reach for the light continually."[20] "Immigrant" is backed by hip-hop beats, and explores racial tensions with lyrics including; "Coming from where he did/He was turned away from every door like Joseph/To even the strongest among us/That would be too much."[20]

Release and promotion[edit]

The Lovers Rock Tour promotional poster.

The album was first released in the United Kingdom on November 6, 2000, Lovers Rock was titled after the romantic strain of reggae also known as Lovers Rock, which Sade listened to in her youth.[1] "By Your Side" was released as the lead single from the album, the track was nominated for the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, losing out to Nelly Furtado's "I'm Like a Bird" and has been listed as the 48th greatest love song of all time by VH1.[22] The single fared well commercially making an appearance on the US Billboard Hot 100 and peaking at number seventeen in the United Kingdom.[23][24] King of Sorrow was released as the album's second single on 12 March 2001, the song performed poorly on charts peaking at number fifty nine on the UK Singles Chart[25] and failing to impact the US Billboard Hot 100 only making an appearance on the extension chart; US Billboard Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles[26]

To promote the album Sade and the band embarked on their fifth concert tour entitled Lovers Rock Tour. The tour was announced via Sade's website in April 2001.[27] The announcement stated the tour would begin in the summer of 2001 with 30 shows. Initial dates were rescheduled due to extended rehearsal time. The shows sold well, with many stops adding additional shows. In August 2001, the tour was extended by eight weeks, due to ticket demand.[28] Deemed by many critics as a comeback tour, it marks the band's first performances since 1994 and last until 2011. Although many believed the trek would expand to other countries, this did not come to fruition. With over 40 shows, it became the 13th biggest tour in North America, earning over 26 million.[29]

Following the tour Sade released their first live album "Lovers Live", released on 5 February 2002 by Epic Records. Lovers Live reached number ten on the US Billboard 200 and number fifty-one on the UK Albums Chart, Sade's first album to miss the top twenty in the UK. The album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America on 7 March 2002, having sold US sales of 562,000 copies,[4] while the DVD was certified platinum on 30 January 2003 for shipping 100,000 copies.

Commercial performance[edit]

Lovers Rock debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200, selling 370,000 copies, in doing so the album became the largest first week sales by a British artists in the US that year.[30] The album spent fifty seven weeks on the chart,[31] and went on to be the fourteenth best selling album in the Billboard's year-end chart[32] and the one hundredth and ninth best selling album the decade.[33] It has since been certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA),[3] having sold 3.9 million copies in the United States by February 2010.[4] In North America "Lovers Rock" also peaked at number two on the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart[34] and number thirteen on the Canadian Albums Chart, where it was later certified two times platinum.[34]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 78/100[35]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[17]
Robert Christgau (neither)[36]
Entertainment Weekly B[37]
Mixmag 5/5 headphones[38]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[18]
Slant Magazine 3.5/5 stars[39]
Spin 8/10[40]
Vibe 4/5 stars[41]
Yahoo! Music UK 8/10 stars[19]

Upon release Lovers Rock received generally positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 79, based on 11 reviews.[35] A reviewer from AllMusic praised Sade's choice to infuse "more mainstream rock elements (prominent strummed guitars) into her music."[35] A Review from Billboard gave the album a score of 80/100, calling the album "sterling" and " signature Sade," the publication "Sonicnet" also gave the album a score of 80, calling the album the one of the "finest albums of the year", and continued to praise Sade's "distinctively smoky, vulnerable instrument that is her voice."[35] A reviewer from Spin magazine praised the album's "airy" tones and its "demo-like in its simplicity," the reviewer continued to call the album "ephemeral."[35] In an in depth review Rolling Stone stated;

Lovers Rock is her first in eight years, and guess what -- it sounds exactly like Sade, heavily influenced by Diamond Life with a bit of Love Deluxe thrown in. Needless to say, it's also pretty damn good, because this smooth operator shrewdly sticks to the tricks she'd already mastered before turning pro.[35]

Dot Music also gave the album a positive review stating "Back with the same band that helped her notch up such smoky, smooth jazz hits as 'Your Love Is King', 'Smooth Operator' and 'The Sweetest Taboo', Sade has produced an album of class, sophistication and melancholy soul."[35] Wall of Sound praised the album's "element of freshness that aligns Sade with the current electronic music insurgence while still maintaining a distinctly analog outlook on love's foibles."[35] Entertainment Weekly praised the album's cohesiveness saying each "song melts into the next; the result is an undifferentiated dreaminess."[35] All this publication's reviews. In a more mixed review Revolution praised the band's "creative leap" but noted the album as being "acceptable," Q Magazine also gave the album a mixed review stating the album was not "memorable" but praised the minimalist style.[35] On 27 February 2002, the album earned Sade the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album.[2]

Aftermath[edit]

Following the release of "Lovers Rock" (2000) Sade took a ten-year hiatus, in which she raised her daughter and move to the Caribbean, during this time Sade made only one rare public appearance in 2002 to accept an OBE at Buckingham Palace for services to music, she then moved Gloucestershire countryside where, in 2005, she bought a run-down, stone-built cottage to renovate near Stroud.[42] In 2002, she appeared on the Red Hot Organization's Red Hot and Riot, a compilation CD in tribute to the music of fellow Nigerian musician, Fela Kuti. She recorded a remix of her hit single, "By Your Side", for the album and was billed as a co-producer.

Sade on tour in 2011, marking their first tour in ten years.

The band would not release any new material for ten years until February 2010, when Sade's released their sixth studio album Soldier of Love. Following the release of the "Soldier of Love" single on 8 December 2009, the track debuted at number 11 on the Urban Hot AC chart, making it the highest debut of the decade and the third highest all-time on the Urban Hot AC chart. "Soldier of Love" debuted at number 5 on the Smooth Jazz airplay chart and became the first ever vocal to hit number 1 on the Smooth Jazz Top 20 Countdown.[43]

In the US the album sold 502,000 copies in its first week and topped the Billboard 200 chart.[44] The album stayed at No. 1 in the US for three weeks.[45] The album became the band's second number on the US Billboard 200, in doing so the band became the act with the longest hiatus between number one albums, the band's "Promise" (1986) and "Soldier of Love" (2010) were separated by 23 years, 10 months and 2 weeks.[46] The band would later go on tour, the tour marked the band's first tour in nearly a decade.[47] The tour ranked 27th in Pollstar's "Top 50 Worldwide Tour (Mid-Year)", earning over 20 million dollars.[48] At the conclusion of 2011, the tour placed tenth on Billboard's annual, "Top 25 Tours", earning over $50 million with 59 shows.[49]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Sade Adu, Stuart Matthewman, Andrew Hale and Paul S. Denman, except where noted. 

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "By Your Side"     4:34
2. "Flow"     4:34
3. "King of Sorrow"     4:53
4. "Somebody Already Broke My Heart"     5:01
5. "All About Our Love"     2:40
6. "Slave Song"     4:12
7. "The Sweetest Gift"     2:18
8. "Every Word"     4:04
9. "Immigrant"  
  • Adu
  • Janusz Podrazik
3:48
10. "Lovers Rock"     4:13
11. "It's Only Love That Gets You Through"  
  • Adu
  • Podrazik
3:53
Total length:
44:10

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Lovers Rock.[15]

Sade
  • Sade – arrangement, production
  • Sade Adu – vocals
  • Andrew Hale – keyboards, programming
  • Stuart Matthewman – guitar, programming, woodwinds
  • Paul S. Denman – bass
Additional personnel
  • Karl Van Den Bossche – percussion
  • Melissa Caplan – Sade inside photograph
  • Tom Coyne – mastering
  • Andy 'Nipper' Davies – assistant engineering
  • Nick Ingman – string arrangements ("King of Sorrow")
  • Intro – design
  • Sophie Muller – cover photography
  • Andy Nice – cello ("Every Word")
  • Leroy Osbourne – vocals
  • Mike Pela – co-production, recording
  • Janusz Podrazik – keyboards ("Immigrant", "It's Only Love That Gets You Through")
  • Albert Watson – cover photography, all other photographs

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[86] Gold 35,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[87] Gold  
Brazil (ABPD)[88] Gold 100,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[89] 2× Platinum 200,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[90] Gold 25,000^
Germany (BVMI)[91] Platinum 300,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[92] Gold 40,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[93] Gold 7,500^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[94] Gold 25,000*
Poland (ZPAV)[95] Platinum 100,000*
Sweden (GLF)[96] Platinum 80,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[97] Gold 25,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[98] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[3] 3× Platinum 3,900,000[4]
Summaries
Europe (IFPI)[99] Platinum 1,000,000*

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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