Sade’s Love Deluxe is an intensely haunting, luxuriant, revelatory album; at the time of its release in 1992, Sade was already a tremendously successful artist crossing over smooth jazz, soul, and R&B formats, but in many ways Love Deluxe represented a tremendous leap forward for the singer. Recorded with her immensely dextrous collaborators Sweetback, the album predated trip-hop by a few years, and clearly had an influence on that genre’s seminal artists: Portishead, Massive Attack, Tricky. Two decades later, it has more in common with the spaced-out beauty of Bark Psychosis or Spirit Of Eden-period Talk Talk than it does Sade’s contemporaries at the time (e.g., Seal, Natalie Cole). The album was released on 11/11/1992, and to celebrate its 20th birthday, Brooklyn/Raleigh, NC indie duo the Rosebuds covered the album in its entirety and have made it available for free download on their Bandcamp. Tonally, their interpretation is pretty true Sade and Sweetback’s original — spare, warm, pristine, striking — although the band’s instrumentation is more organic, and Rosebuds singer Ivan Howard doesn’t possess Sade’s bottomless vocal depth. That’s not meant as criticism; if anything, it should be read as high praise. Howard’s vocals are absolutely commanding here; Sade is simply in a class of her own. And the band’s instrumental choices give new emphasis to aspects of the music that might have been blurred into narcotic haze in the original version. I highly recommend listening to it — at night, in dim light, if possible — and then going back to the original. You can stream it right here.
Here are the details of the Rosebuds’ Love Deluxe, written by Howard’s bandmate and ex-wife Kelly Crisp:
Love Deluxe, Sade’s fourth album, was released 20 years ago this week. To say this album is a constant influence to The Rosebuds and the records we’ve made over the years would be an understatement. We’ve always been fans. Ivan’s been covering Sade songs since I’ve known him — he sings them in the house, he sings them while driving, he sings them with or without a guitar in hand, he sings them when he doesn’t even realize he’s singing aloud. It’s the language he hears music in. Ivan spent some time on the North Carolina coast where he set up a small apartment — a surf camp and home studio. He’d gone to the beach to enjoy the off-season isolation, to surf, and to work on some new Rosebuds demos we have. I was delighted when he came back to Brooklyn and presented me with his own fully-tracked version of Love Deluxe. It’s only elements are the instruments Ivan drove down with, and the friends who stopped by to contribute–Rob Lackey, drums; Matt Douglas, Saxophone; Jonathan Yu, keyboards. We set about mixing it right away.
Upon first listen to Ivan’s version of Love Deluxe, I was struck by how organic it is. Where many of the electronic elements of the original had been beautiful to me, to listen to this new live-instrument sound Ivan had quick-captured is to listen directly to his evolving relationship with the music. It’s a documentation of a living connection. Please download and share this tribute recording of a record that means so much to us.