Sade – Diamond Life – Nearly 35 Years On

It’s quite dangerous to visit your local cocktail emporium late at night, find yourself chatting to a music enthusiast, and then start hankering for an album that you couldn’t have given a toss about back in the day. The danger is exacerbated by the fact that most of us carry a veritable shopping mall in our pockets in the form of a smart device loaded with eBay. Such a thing happened to me last Saturday, and the album in question was “Diamond Life” by Sade (1984-EPC 26044 Also available on Cassette, but not CD initially).

By 1984, audiences were being wooed by Compact Disk, and it wouldn’t surprise me if “Diamond Life” was recorded in 16 bit /44kHz. Nevertheless, I’ve just bought a vinyl copy, and I think most albums from the era suffer from being released on the silver disk format.

So, to the album itself. This was released at a time when Yuppies were brandishing filofaxes as if they were lethal weapons, just one year before Dire Straits released the ubiquitous (read, “over played and hugely boring”) “Brothers In Arms” album. I was a music student at the time, and bands of the Sade ilk, were being brandished as real music for adults. Yah, reading the sleeve notes, one is greeted with a list of acoustic instruments that would make the most die-hard Flat Earth protagonist salivate. The trouble with this sort of music is that after we’re enjoyed the singles (and they were good – ‘Smooth Operator” and “Your Love Is King”), “Diamond Life” rapidly turns into wallpaper. And as the aforementioned good (read, “outstanding”) singles are placed at the beginning, one is left with precious little to enjoy. I feel awful saying that, as the musicianship is excellent. I’m always a sucker for a good saxophone (pun intended) but there are too few hooks; same for the vocals. Ms Sade’s vocals remind me of Corrine Whatsername from Swing Out Sister – indeed if Sade sang the word “cry” as “cwy” the resemblance would be complete. Except that “Diamond Life” lacks any song with the sheer exuberance of “Break Out”. For all its real music and real instruments, it sounds as if the producers were having trouble setting the Amiga metronome any higher than 114 bpm.

Not a BAD album as such then, but “Diamond Life” is just a tad dreary. I received my copy at about 9:30 am, and having played it twice, I’m ready to go back to bed. Swallow a mogadon with a G&T and play this album in the evening for maximum effect.

For those wanting to mellow out 1980’s style, I would point them towards “It’s Better To Travel” by Swing Out Sister, “Keep Your Distance” by Curiosity Killed The Cat or “Island Life” by Grace Jones instead.

Mark Pearce
(March 2017)

By Mark Pearce

Mark Pearce is the author of the YouTube Channel MarkPMus. Check it out if you're interested in Hi Fi, songwriting and music reviews. Nuggets include 2 series of ABBA Gold Anomalies / More ABBA Gold Anomalies, the Magical Musical Moments series and Hi Fi 101. You'll also find examples of the author's songwriting and photography.

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