I penned this for www.about.com/dancemusic back in 2007 and it is now here on my blog…at “home” where it should be. “Hi, Chaka!!”
Long before people began anointing every singer with a big voice a “diva”, I noticed the slightly different lead singer of a band called Rufus back during my college radio days. Guys all over campus, including yours truly, fell in “love” with everything about this new star. From her big hair to her kind of cute, quirky-jerky dance movements between lyrics on stage (hear “Better Days” and “Ain’t Nobody”), we were all smitten. If you’ve ever seen her perform, then your mind will imagine her moves to the groove as this CD opens up with “Back In The Day”, a chronicle of her early Chi-town upbringing.
Yet, as I look back to the days of “Tell Me Something Good” (remember the heavy breathing?), it is probably precisely at this point that none of us could have even gotten close to that “Angel” who might have been “inconsistent, flying blind most of the time”, as portrayed on track four of this, her latest album/CD. Oh yes, she gets it real without wasting time, like saying “Funk This” [Burgundy Records 88697 09022 2], so let me tell you my story! This album has the mark of how reconciled with life’s trials Chaka is; knowing it is the right time for this long promised propitiate to her fans. It also occurs to me that the first song is an ode to her recognizing that singing became her salvation.
Next you’ll see what she’s up to here, mixing new songs and covering timeless hits when she re-classics the Dee Dee Warwick smash “Foolish Fool”.
This is not a greatest hits compact disc, but her sound flavored with the seasoned sensations of her career and life. Having been in the orchestra seats to witness many of her performances, I ask myself, “Where has the time gone?” Well, the Chaka Khan of Rufus fame is back on this one, and appropriate props are due to the sensitivities of the Jam and Lewis production duo too! She pays homage to one of my inspirations, Jimi Hendrix on “Castles Made Of Sand” (I couldn’t believe it was the same song when first I read the title on the back cover), your mind will play the trick of having you think the Experienced one came back just to play for this track. Here she talks about the album!
“Disrespectful” features Mary J. Blige, and the lively, funky beat reminds me of the 2005 jam by Amerie, “1 Thing”; I’d love to see them perform it “live”; Hell, I want to see her do all of this live, and just in – this is the track spawning smokingly funky remixed versions, for all us club DJs!
Right after we beautifully relive the magic of the “Pack’d My Bags”/ “You Got The Love” medley where it is happily noticeable to me that she has reunited with her former Rufus guitarist Tony Maiden, it becomes really time to soulfully groove as Chaka pays homage to her good friend Joni Mitchell on “Ladies Man”.
I love the background singers on that one, and speaking of accompaniments, imagine the trademark Carly Simon smile towards Michael McDonald’s duet with Chaka to her “You Belong To Me” here as well.
“Super Life” has my vote for the best single. Chaka’s material is so relatable here in the future that is now.
That this is vintage Chaka is to evoke one of those clichés that I despise, so I will say that this is refreshing funk and so necessary against the backdrop of today’s so often lame and laboriously slow “neo” R & B, and it is pure Chaka Khan, wide-ranging vocals from the gritty to the signature shouting extended vamp notes.
I believe that you will want to listen repeatedly in various situations and moods to this familiar musical friend.
Once anointed, and often referred to on the air as “lips and hips” by my friend, the late WBLS New York City programmer (and on of my reluctant radio mentors) Frankie Crocker, I feel that she is and always has been much, much more complicated that that – but we all had fun playing to that fantasy once upon a time. If there is a category for it, this album would win the comeback Grammy of the year. After meeting her backstage at the Blue Note in New York City back in 1992, and briefly hanging out with her (my date made an exit, stage right, so I could hang – a night I’ll never forget), I always knew she would bless us with more excellent music. So in a way, my original dream from college days has almost come true. As I wrote this, Ms. Khan was to make her Broadway debut in early 2008 as the character played by Oprah in “The Color Purple”, Sofia opposite BeBe Winans.? What ever happened wit dat? lol
Check out her myspace page for some contest details. No point deduction for a well thought-out and timed return equals five tasty Chakalatte stars in my guest book.
Here is one of my favorite Chaka and Rufus from the past, “Little Boy Blue” in video!
Your comments about Chaka Khan, Please? “Pajulsta”? Пожалуйста?