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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Record Reviews > Raphael Saadiq

MUSIC REVIEWS

Raphael Saadiq-Instant Vintage (Universal)

Raphael Saadiq has logged well over a decade in the music biz as one of the brains behind Tony! Toni! Toné! and last year's supergroup Lucy Pearl.   But other than a few solo soundtrack singles over the years like "Ask Of You" (from Higher Learning) and "Get Involved" (from The PJ's), he has never gone out on his own. 

 

So Instant Vintage is long overdue.  Saadiq refers to the music on the album as "Gospel-delic" and between this and the album title, you get the feeling that the album will have a bit of a retro-vibe and Saadiq does not disappoint.  What is surprising is the diversity of sources on the album. 

 

The first tune, "Doing What I Can" does a good job of pointing out what is good about this approach, but also what is bad.  It starts off with a stone soul groove straight off a Barry White/Love Unlimited album.  About a minute in, he pastes on top some old-school rap scratching, a falsetto chorus and sound bytes about himself and the album.  It sounds lovely (if a bit cluttered...) and eventually you are sitting there thinking you are listening to what is essentially an immaculately produced commercial. 

 

His musical adventurousness works a lot better on the stunning "Still Ray" which is not only a potent love jam but the first song I remember hearing in years that features a tuba solo... which adds a wonderful timelessness to the tune.  He also stretches out with "OPH," a sparse country-gospel styled celebration of weed.  "Charlie Ray" is a better Prince song than Prince himself has done in a decade. 

 

Saadiq has a surplus of fascinating ideas, and if not all of them work you still have to give him props for the fearlessness of trying.  Instant Vintage is well worth the trip. (6/02)

 

Jay S. Jacobs

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Posted: July 5, 2002.