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retrotempo | Diamond Life

Album of the Decade 1980s: Diamond Life – Sade

Album of the Decade 1980s:  Diamond Life – Sade

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Album of Decade 1980s – Diamond Life

What are the qualification criteria for “Album of the Decade”?   It’s whatever you decide, of course.  But, in my book, it has to be an Album in which ALL the tracks are good- or great.  It has to stay in the charts for weeks, or better years.  It has to have terrific lyrics, a fantastic melody and great production. It had to be played relentlessly back then – and has to be played today – as the classic it has become.  But most importantly, it has to have meaning and resonance with the period, such that a single bar or refrain is enough to  launch you back powerfully to that particular era – or indeed a particular moment. Introducing Diamond Life…

Diamond Life

Released in summer 1984, Diamond Life was a slow burner for me. Four singles were already released from the Album during 1984 before it caught my attention in 1985.  At just about every small gathering, or simply after the pub, you could guarantee that at around Midnight, someone would put on the LP as soothing background music.  Maybe that is why I had kind of dismissed it.  I was more interested in the chat, or the booze, or other imperatives to notice the quality of the music.

But my real epiphany with Diamond Life was in a Hi-Fi separates shop in Twickenham the following year. I had been given a bonus at work- my first ever. The economy was on the up and all boats rise on a high tide. I had sometimes bought “What Hifi” and knew something about entry level separates. So I knew what I wanted and could, (and could not), afford with my bonus. The brand I wanted was either Arcam or Denon and I had fully intended buying one of these, but instead in the corner of the shop I saw, the Aura. The Aura came in “Piano Black” or High Finish Chrome”. They were the most stylish things I had ever seen, when at the time; the fashion was for matt black kit.  Not only that, but the units; a CD player, an Amplifier and a Tuner, were designed to look a set with the front of the Amplifier cleverly recessed to make it the same height as the Tuner and CD player. Sadly, I could not afford the Tuner.  I really liked the Chrome, but no one. No one, bought Chrome anymore did they?

Aura in Piano Black

I told the shop assistant what I wanted and he sat me down in the “acoustics room”.  (Not as grand as it sounds). He went to set up my proposed system and frowned when I told him I had already bought some Mission Speakers.  (Not because my Mission Speakers were bad, simply because he knew a better matching set). Nevertheless, he recreated my system and turned on Sade, Diamond Life at volume.  The sound was perfect to me. Like listening through invisible head-phones. And the track he played was not the eponymous “Smooth Operator”, but “Hang On To Your Love”.   This Salesman was good!  If you ever want to test the subtle qualities of your system, listen to the introduction to this song.  The way that the guitar riff slides from left to right and then back.  Just Amazing!  (Note that poor quality mp3 files just do not capture this).  While I was there, the Salesman showed me the difference a decent pair of leads made to the sound quality. This was so impressive, I thought he must be switching the entire system behind the scenes. Anyway.  Just JFYI.  Leads DO make a big difference. I bought some.

In the end I took home the Aura Piano Black CD player and Amplifier and stopped at the record shop to buy my copy of the Album of the Decade 1980s: Diamond Life – Sade.  Awesome is an over used word, but this Album is awesome!

Track three for: “Hang On To Your Love”

By Paul Bates (thepaulbates)


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