Friday, May 23, 2014

Sade: Smooth Operator

Dare I change another daily feature? I think it’s about time, as I’ve been doing Friday Flipsides for over two years and I think I’ve played out that feature, so I have decided on a new showcase – Feminine Fridays. Until I move on to something else, we’ll be honoring female vocalists every Friday.

Last night while trying think of a new Friday feature, I stumbled on Sade’s classic hit from 1985: “Smooth Operator” and a new Friday element was born. This song was released during one of the more interesting years of my life. I was at the height of my radio career as the morning guy and program director at WOAY-FM (Y94) in Oak Hill, WV. We had excellent Aribitron ratings and were reporting for Radio & Records, Billboard, and Cashbox. Life was good professionally.

I was also transitioning from playing with The Second Story Band out of Mullens, WV to play with a new dance band, Street Heat, from Oak Hill. Street Heat may have been one of the more popular bands for which I played. The genesis of Street Heat occurred in February, but the final lineup did not materialize until late May. By August, we were playing our first gig. “Smooth Operator” was one of our signature tunes and our lead vocalist Cheryl Jackson belted out the vocals that were reminiscent of Sade Adu.

For a single guy in 1985, life was good. I dated more women (6, I think) that year than I have before or since. I was at the top of my game and perhaps I was living the life of the “Smooth Operator.” It didn’t last, but it was interesting to say the least.

Not only was Sade the lead vocalist, her name was also used for the band. “Smooth Operator’s” jazz stylings were also popular with the record buying public. Not only were the vocals mesmerizing, but the congas, electric piano, bass (and bass lead), and saxophone set the stage for a sophisticated recording from the band’s debut album, “Diamond Life.”

Both the single and album peaked at #5 on their respective charts. I am featuring the extra long 12 inch jazz version. Like the album version, it features Sade’s spoken intro that was edited out of the single. This is one of those great cuts I could listen to over and over. Viva 1985.

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