In honour of National Record Store Day, I look back at one of the most innovative Soul Records…
Artist Terence Trent D’Arby released his debut album ‘Introducing the Hardline’ In July 1987; a power force which stormed through the UK charts spending nine weeks at the number one album chart spot. The album produced four top 20 singles and earned Terence Trent D’Arby a Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and a Brit Award.
The success of The Hardline was hugely influential to the UK RnB scene, as the album was released whilst D’Arby lived in the UK we adopted him as out own! UK RnB whilst thriving in the 1960s and enjoying some success in the 1970’s was struggling in the 1980’s to gain pace above the underground scene with the exception of Sade. Terence Trent D’Arby was the full package, he had a strong iconic image with long dreadlocks, an undefinable golden skin tone, a sultry pout and of course huge shouderpads! He had almost complete artistic control over the album, writing seven out of the eleven tracks and producing the project; a rare amount of artistic licensing for a debut album. Terence Trent D’Arby was making a statement – he was not just a singer, he was an artist.
The album oozed influences from every area of urban music from reggae, blues, the funk of ‘Dance Little Sister’ to the stripped back soul of ‘Sign Your Name’ to the Motown nod in his rendition of ‘Who’s Loving You’. The production of the album is flawless, mature and at times boldly experimental; boasting layered and complex instrumentals on every track and the vocal range that D’Arby demonstrates is second to none.
The Hardline paved the way for many UK soul artists as it grabbed international attention, the couple of years that followed in the UK soul scene saw the arrival of Omar, Soul II Soul and many of the ‘acid jazz’ groups. Influences of this album also became apparent in the 1990’s during the arrival of the ‘Neo – Soul’ movement in the US, when artists such as D’Angelo, Maxwell and Erykah Badu appeared sporting similar sounds, experimental production and even styles as Terence Trent D’Arby.
Most importantly , Introducing the Hardline has retained its credibility and relevance. Dust off your old copy,or listen for the first time, it still sounds innovative and fresh and is in my opinion, a milestone soul album.
Carly – ann (@CarlyMond)