Promise (Sade album)
|Studio album by|
|Released||4 November 1985|
|Singles from Promise|
Promise is the second studio album by English band Sade. It was first released in the United Kingdom on 4 November 1985 by Epic Records and in the United States on 15 November 1985 by Portrait Records. Recording for the album began in February and lasted until August 1985. The band co-produced the album with the same team of producers they worked with on their debut album, Diamond Life, including Robin Millar, Mike Pela and Ben Rogan. The album's title comes from a letter from Adu's father where he refers to the "promise of hope" to recover from cancer.
Upon release, Promise was met with acclaim from music critics. The album was a commercial success, peaking at number one on both the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard 200, becoming the band's first album to top both charts. It also reached number one in Finland, the Netherlands and Switzerland, and the top five in numerous countries including Canada, Germany and New Zealand. The album spawned three singles, including "The Sweetest Taboo", which became a success worldwide.
After studying fashion design, and later modeling briefly, Adu sang backup with British band Pride. During this time she formed a writing partnership with Pride's guitarist andsaxophonist Stuart Matthewman; together, backed by Pride's rhythm section, they began doing their own sets at Pride gigs. In 1983, Adu and Matthewman split from Pride along with keyboardist Andrew Hale, bassist Paul Denman, and drummer Paul Cooke and formed Sade; later that year they got a record deal. Afterwards, Sade released their debut album, Diamond Life, in 1984, which became a success in the United Kingdom and later became a success in the United States following the release of its single "Smooth Operator". Diamond Life had international sales of over six million copies, becoming one of the top-selling debut recordings of the 1980s and the best-selling debut ever by a British female vocalist.
Between February and August 1985, Sade enlisted the same team of producers they worked with on Diamond Life. The band co-produced Promise with Robin Millar, Mike Pela, and Ben Rogan, the latter of which played a less central role in the production. Some of the album's sessions took place during a two-week sojourn in Provence, utilising an SSL E-series console housed at the barn-shaped, concrete-built Studio Miraval. However, the majority of the album was recorded at Power Plant Studios in London, where the project commenced in February 1985 and concluded seven months later, with the mix being done in the Gallery (Studio Three) located on the top floor, with its 44-channel Harrison MR3. Studio One is where the production team initially listened to several of the songs in demo form, although Pela was at the Royal Albert Hall when he first heard one of the new tracks. Like their debut album, Promise was recorded live, though it featured the use of technology, sampling drums by way of an AMS with a lock-in feature.
The album's lead single was created in Power Plant's Studio One, where a 30 × 25 × 18-foot live area was complemented by a 36-channel Harrison Series 24 console, UREI 813B main monitors and a 24-track Studer A820 recorder running Ampex tape at 30ips. Pela explained the process saying, "We had Urei monitors in all of the rooms so that there was some continuity, and we also had Acoustic Research AR18Ss, which we discovered at that studio and which I've still got a pair of. They were like hi-fi speakers, they only cost about 80 quid, and once we'd started using them the company stopped making them. They were really nice and natural-sounding, not designed to carry super-low heavy frequencies, but absolutely fine."
Release and promotion
The album spawned three singles—"Is It a Crime?", "Never as Good as the First Time" and "The Sweetest Taboo", the latter of which was released as the album's lead single and spent six months on the US Billboard Hot 100. "The Sweetest Taboo" peaked at number five on the US Billboard Hot 100, number one on the US Adult Contemporary chart and number three on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The third single "Never as Good as the First Time" was released in 1986, reaching number six on the Adult Contemporary chart, number 18 on the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales chart, number eight on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and number 20 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Sade was so popular that some radio stations reinstated the 1970s practice of playing album tracks, adding "Is It a Crime?" and "Tar Baby" to their playlists. Following radio play, "Is It a Crime?" peaked at number 55 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
|The Village Voice||B|
In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone, Anthony DeCurtis felt that "the careful elegance of the production and instrumental settings seems little more than a strategy to conceal the limitations of Sade's vocal range and skills as a song stylist". Ron Wynn of AllMusic was more positive in his retrospective review, describing the album as the "personification of cool, laid-back singing", accompanied by "seldom extending or embellishing lyrics, registering emotion, or projecting her voice." Robert Christgau commented, "Even when it's this sumptuous, there's a problem with aural wallpaper—once you start paying attention to it, it's not wallpaper anymore, it's pictures on the wall. And while as a wallpaper these pictures may be something, they can't compete with the ones you've hung up special. That's why I prefer my aural wallpaper either so richly patterned you can't see past the whole (Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians) or so intricately worked you can gaze at the details forever (Eno's Another Green World). In between I'll take Julie London."
Promise became the band's first album to reach number one on the US Billboard 200, spending two weeks at the peak position. By September 1988, Promise had sold one million copies in the United States, and on 23 July 1997, it was certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipments in excess of four million copies. When Sade's sixth studio album, Soldier of Love, topped the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart in 2010, the group set the record for the longest gap between number-one albums on the chart (Promise and Soldier of Love were separated by 23 years, 10 months and 2 weeks). The album has sold 983,000 copies in the United States since the introduction of Nielsen SoundScan albums.
All lyrics are written by Sade Adu, except "Punch Drunk".
|1.||"Is It a Crime?"||Robin Millar||6:20|
|2.||"The Sweetest Taboo"||Millar||4:37|
|3.||"War of the Hearts"||Millar||6:47|
|4.||"You're Not the Man"||5:10|
|8.||"Never as Good as the First Time"||5:00|
- "You're Not the Man" and "Punch Drunk" are not included on the LP version of the album.
Credits adapted from the liner notes of Promise.
|Canada (Music Canada)||2× Platinum||200,000^|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||Platinum||15,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||2× Platinum||600,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||4× Platinum||4,000,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
|CD||Sony Music Distribution||1990|
|BMG / Sony Music Entertainment||2000|
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- List of Billboard number-one R&B albums of 1986
- List of European number-one hits of 1985
- List of European number-one hits of 1986
- List of UK Albums Chart number ones of the 1980s
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