Sheila E. – In The Glamorous Life (1984)

Sheila E. – In The Glamorous Life
Vinyl rip in 24-bit/96kHz | FLAC and mp3 |  Art scans at 300 dpi
749MB (24/96) + 245MB (16/44) |  Direct Links  | Genre: pop / funk /  soul | 1984
Warner Brothers ~  1-25107

 

 Side 1:

    The Belle Of St. Mark (5:08)
    Shortberry Strawcake (4:44) 
    Noon Rendezvous (3:50)

    Side 2:

    Oliver’s House (6:20)
    Next Time Wipe The Lipstick Off Your Collar (3:50)
    The Glamorous Life (8:58)

All tracks written by Prince (credited to Sheila E.), except where noted.

The year of 1984 was a watershed one for Prince Rogers Nelson with its record-breaking Purple Rain soundtrack and tour, and the period surrounding it was also a time of  prodigious activity for his many proteges and acts where he wrote, recorded, and produced all the basic tracks – Vanity 6, The Time, Apollonia 6, Mazarati,  The Family, Jill Jones.  One of the most notable – and easily the most talented – of these proteges was Sheila E., who already had many years in the music business as Sheila Escovedo.  From the mid-70s, Sheila Escovedo’s talents as a percussionist had graced records from such established artists as Alphonso Johnson, Con Funk Shun, Johnny Hammond, and especially George Duke.  She also made a few albums with her father Pete Escovedo, and her uncle was percussionist Coke Escovedo, a pioneer in Latin-rock-jazz crossover through his contributions to the third Santana record (my personal favorite), the Santana/Buddy Miles band, Herbie Hancock, and his own group Azteca.  One could argue that Sheila’s Latin jazz chops are underused on these Warner/Paisley Park records, but I still find the standout tracks to be unique and emblematic of how Prince was able to constantly incorporate new sounds and influences.  As a musician, though, Sheila probably shines more as a member of the Lovsexy and  Sign O’ The Times-era ensembles led by his diminutive purple highness.  Last year I spent a lot of time listening to Prince bootlegs after he passed, and there are some soundboard rehearsal tapes from that period where Prince hasn’t even arrived to the studio yet, and the band is just running through material.  It’s not like I was a fly on the wall in those rehearsals, but there is some conversational banter that got caught on microphone.  I have this intuitive itch that Sheila was probably the person leading everyone through the changes.

Oliver’s House, The Glamorous LIfe, and Shortberry Strawcake are the funk-infused numbers here, but the whole album holds together well.  Next Time Wipe The Lipstick Off Your Collar is a unique plea for courtesy in one’s indiscretions, and when played live it often got a preamble from Sheila that fell a bit more squarely on one side of the naughty/nice dichotomy she had going on.  The cover for this album is classic too, juxtaposing a flair for high fashion with trashy decadence – you barely even notice the guy passed out on the floor amid squalor, tucked behind the slightly-opened door of what appears to be a dilapidated mansion or luxury apartment building.   Is the black cat on the front steps his or hers, or does it belong to the street?  Or is it an animal familiar summoned by the sorcery of Sheila’s drumsticks, tucked discreetly into the right leg of her alluring outfit?

For those fond of trying to decipher backward masking on records (which Prince was a bit obsessed with at this time), I’ve isolated some of the unknown lyrics to the instrumental Shortberry Strawcake here:

There is an interesting anecdote about Jesse Johnson (of  The Time) having actually written the bulk of The Belle of St. Mark but Prince finishing it up and giving it to Sheila; this resulted in him giving Johnson a writing and performing credit on Shortberry Strawcake as consolation.  Perhaps the real truth is recorded in some production notes locked in The Vault.  Incidentally, some internet sources  take the credits as listed on the album jacket at face value.  They are, however, widely known to be false or misleading information to masque the degree to which this album and others were really Prince projects.

The following information is drawn from the Prince Vault @ http://princevault.com/index.php?title=Album:_The_Glamorous_Life

First steps

Prince urged Sheila E. to record a solo album starting in February 1984, when she came to visit him at Sunset Sound during initial sessions for the Around The World In A Day album, following a friendship which had begun almost six years earlier.

She wasn’t very comfortable singing lead vocals, although she had sung background vocals for other artists; Prince and Sheila E. began by recording Erotic City, which was used as the b-side of Let’s Go Crazy, before he had her record vocals over some tracks he had originally intended for Apollonia      6 .

Prince suggested she shorten her stage name from Sheila Escovedo to Sheila E., and took the finished tapes to his management company, who introduced Sheila E. to Warner Bros.

Recording process

The time between vocal recordings to the release of the album was swift; less than two months in total.

All songs on the album were recorded at Sunset Sound, Hollywood, CA, USA. The Glamorous Life and Next Time Wipe The Lipstick Off Your Collar were recorded in late December 1983. The Belle Of St. Mark, Oliver’s House and Shortberry Strawcake were recorded in early January 1984. Noon Rendezvous was recorded in mid-February 1984.

Sheila E.’s vocals and percussion for all tracks were recorded in the first few days of April 1984. The Glamorous Life, Next Time Wipe The Lipstick Off Your Collar, The Belle Of St. Mark, Shortberry Strawcake and Oliver’s House were initially intended for Apollonia 6 until Prince began to work with Sheila E. in February 1984, at which time he set the songs aside for her.

Promotion

The album produced three singles, The Glamorous Life (which preceded the album), Noon Rendezvous, and The Belle Of St. Mark.
It reached number 28 on the US Billboard 200 Chart, and number 7 on the Billboard Soul LP’s Chart.

Personnel

    Sheila E. – vocals, percussion
   Prince – all instruments, except where noted (uncredited)
    Jill Jones – background vocals on The Belle Of St. Mark and Oliver’s House (as J.J.)
   David Coleman – cello on Oliver’s House and The Glamorous Life
  Novi Novog – violin on Next Time Wipe The Lipstick Off Your Collar
    Nick DeCaro – accordion on Next Time Wipe The Lipstick Off Your Collar
  Larry Williams – saxophone on The Glamorous Life

Production

    Prince – producer, arranger (album) (credited to Sheila E. and The Starr Company)
    Bill Jackson – mixing engineer
Peggy McCreary – mixing engineer (as “Peggy Mac”)
    Terry Christian – mixing engineer

The last entry in the Spring Funk Drive fundraising effort?  Well in terms of funds it has been a colossal failure but it was fun to attempt to create some momentum I guess

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3 Comments

  1. no links availabe?
    hi-res would be very appreciated!

  2. many thanks!

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