Friday, November 02, 2007

Sliver: Joe - All The Things

There are some things that are not as good as they used to be. One of those is the well done syrupy R & B ballad, the ones that populate late night television commercials (and maybe the Soul Food reruns). The best embodied a couple of common threads. For one, there was a seductive voice that led you through the proceedings, which had to include loads of melismas. The music then had to have a soulful feel, even if it was electronic. It just needed to have some real earth to it. Finally, it had to have a certain lyrical element, one that vibed with even the lowest common denominator, but was still charmingly cheesy. Promises are made literally and figuratively, sometimes lewd, sometimes insane. But when all the gears are clicking, there is nothing more seductive. During this type of song, any lovemaking would be accentuated.

Joe plays the role of Lothario on this track, a classic from the 1990's that has all the parts. As he steers his tenor from quiet passion to smoldering rage, Joe hits all the points necessary. He derides the partner of the serenaded all while promising to "light up all the candles all around." He then proceeds to ask directions to Pleasure Town: "show me to the subway, I'll go down". Did I mention that he "heard he's got you on lockdown, but I got the master key"? And though I might not have included the cheesiest part, Joe sells it all. It may be his pure conviction. Maybe the bed of steady bass with occasional splatterings of acoustic guitar hypnotize into just wanting to be immersed in sexual satisfaction. Whatever. The appeal lies in the fact that sex is as basic as you can get. It might be complicated leading up to it, but the actual act is quite plain and straightforward. This song is stripped down to its basics.

Nowadays, the songs are either to explicit or they feel cold and soulless. Often they are both. But sometimes they succeed just because they speak the common vernacular. The classics were a bit more playful. I might miss the romanticism of those mainstays.

The song is good. You should take a listen.

No comments: