Sananda Maitreya (formerly Terence Trent D'Arby) - The Rise of the Zugebrian Time Lords (2015)

Sananda Maitreya (formerly Terence Trent D'Arby)
sananda_0.jpg
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

Sananda Maitreya – The Rise of the Zugebrian Time Lords

When Sananda Maitreya was Terence Trent D’Arby, he dropped a piece of soul heaven into our midst with Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby – an album that was everything that hardcore soul fans crave. D’Arby had that ragged, raspy, soulful voice that reminded listeners of Wilson Pickett or Bobby Womack, and he could handle music at every tempo from the funk of “Wishing Well,” to the smooth, jazz infused balladry of “Sign Your Name,” to the classic soul of “Who’s Lovin’ You.” D’Arby was also very sure of his talent and the historic nature of his debut album. He declared Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby as the most important piece of music since The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s.

Sananda Maitreya – The Rise of the Zugebrian Time Lords

When Sananda Maitreya was Terence Trent D’Arby, he dropped a piece of soul heaven into our midst with Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby – an album that was everything that hardcore soul fans crave. D’Arby had that ragged, raspy, soulful voice that reminded listeners of Wilson Pickett or Bobby Womack, and he could handle music at every tempo from the funk of “Wishing Well,” to the smooth, jazz infused balladry of “Sign Your Name,” to the classic soul of “Who’s Lovin’ You.” D’Arby was also very sure of his talent and the historic nature of his debut album. He declared Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby as the most important piece of music since The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s.

That kind of proclamation has a hubristic, famous-last-words quality to it, and neither the late Terence Trent D’Arby nor his “new spirit, new will, new identity” Sananda Maitreya obtained the commercial success of his 1987 masterpiece, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. He released three albums as Terence Trent D’Arby between 1989 and 1995 and six – including his latest The Rise of the Zugebrian Time Lords – as Sananda Maitreya, starting with 2001’s The Wildcard.

If there was a theme that emerged post Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby, it’s that Maitreya was a prolific, creative risk taker would never be content to remain in one lane. Those are virtues that often lead to good music – and there is a lot of good on The Rise of the Zugebrian Time Lords – but that also scare an easily intimidated recording industry, and that explains why Maitreya releases his new recordings through his Website while living in Italy.

That’s a shame because Sananda is still a singer who can have his way with a soul ballad as he demonstrates on the hypnotizing “Allergic.” “You’re Going to Lose That Girl” is a throwback to 1950s era early rock and roll right down to the Buddy Holly influenced guitar riffs and the call and response between the lead and backing vocalist. The album includes covers of The Beatles’ “If I Fell” done with piano accompaniment, showcasing a still powerful and emotive baritone and a brassy version of the Songbook standard “Body & Soul.”

But there are 27 tracks on The Rise of the Zugebrian Time Lords, and it couldn’t all be soul ballads and songbook covers. “The Marriage of Nigaro” is a funky imagining of the scene, as well as the characters attending Desdemona and Othello’s wedding. “They Went Back in Time and Killed Robert Johnson” is Maitreya’s shot at the music industry’s willingness to countenance the erasure of the history of artists who created this thing called rock and roll, while “I Wanna Breathe” can be read as a Maitreya’s commentary on the stifling racial atmosphere in light of a series of controversial killings of black men and women while in police custody.

Maitreya can really make the listener think, and that can be a problem in an era when folks proudly proclaim that they only care about the beat. That means their eyes may glaze over when confronted with “Les Paul Man (Love Is Love)” a track that contains the line “it will never work because you are a lesbian and I am a Les Paul man.” That’s going to require folks to do some research to learn that Les Paul was a guitarist, producer and inventor of the solid body electric guitar. Paul was also one of the early adaptors and masters of multitrack recordings and one of the most famous features was his wife, Mary Ford, singing “How High the Moon.”

So perhaps Maitreya’s dilemma is that woman that he wants to be his Mary Ford is a lesbian. Imagine that. An artist being an artist and asking the audience to be something other than a simple, passive listener. Sananda Maitreya, you have some nerve. Recommended

By Howard Dukes

 
Featured Album - Lasperanza - "Seeds"
Featured Album - Nichelle Colvin - Welcome to Gary
Advance Featured Album - Rahsaan Patterson - Heroes & Gods

Leave a comment!