Teena Marie

If you don't like Teena's seventh album, flip it over. There are essentially two records here. Marie plays the raucous, bad girl on the first side. This is the type of straight dance music with R&B underpinnings for which she is best known. But the fast and furious tempos and the delirious echos attached to tunes like the title track distract from any potential charm. The best moment comes at the end of You So Heavy when guest guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan hijacks the song for a runaway, drop-dead solo. The second side is more varied and exotic. For instance, Batucada Suite has a Brazilian flavor, and Sunny Skies is a quintessential torch song. Unfortunately these musical moods encourage Teena to trot out her pretentious imitation of a jazzy cabaret singer. Like Pat Benatar, she has a strong but uninflected voice that would do better singing country laments of the some-body-broke-somebody's-heart variety. Emerald City is Teena Marie's most ambitious record to date. But it's still Teena Marie, which means there's an essential element of depth lacking. (Epic)

  • Contributors:
  • Ralph Novak,
  • Mary Shaughnessy,
  • Steve Dougherty,
  • David Hiltbrand.