CD Review: Teena Marie

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Teena Marie
Lady T
Irons in the Fire
Motown/UME
By David Chiu

One of music’s most notable losses from last year was the unexpected passing of the great R& B singer Teena Marie. But her legacy shines on through these recent reissues of her Motown-era albums, Lady T and Irons in the Fire. And just like what she embodied in her voice and attitude throughout her career, these records ooze with both sensuality and passion.

That is certainly the case with Lady T (1980), which balances uptempo numbers and majestic ballads. The dazzling, horn-pwoered funk “Behind the Groove” lives up to its title with its bass-plunking rhythms; the ballad “Now that I Have You” conjures up two lovers on a romantic beach during sunset; the rock/disco-hybrid of “Lonely Desire” is a song that would have been tailored-made for Donna Summer; and “You’re All the Boogie I Need” is energetic. The record closes out with the awe-inspiring and lush ballad “Too Many Colours,” which is poignant in that it features the spoken-word voice of a young Maya Rudolph, who is the daughter of the late singer Minnie Ripperton.

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Then with Irons in the Fire (1980), Teena Marie continues the trend of sensual songs through the funky and upbeat “I Need Your Lovin’”,  a stone-cold old school classic ripe with style and soul that will move your feet; “Young Love” is an utterly romantic yet aching ballad;  and “You Make Love Like Spring” is very Latin-salsa like. Extra tracks on this reissue includes songs from a concert in Long Beach — among them a duet with the late Rick James on “I’m a Sucker For Your Love”—with some fun onstage repartee between the two. These two albums are representative of what was so great about Lady Tee.

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