Saturday, October 31, 2020

"If You Let Me Stay" by Terence Trent D'Arby

Song#:  3304
Date:  10/24/1987
Debut:  96
Peak:  68
Weeks:  8
Genre:  R&B, Soul

Pop Bits:  This NYC-born singer/songwriter found himself in Germany in the early 80s via a stint in the military and while there he kicked off his music career heading up a band called The Touch. That group would record and release an indie album titled Love on Time in 1984. The LP didn't do much for his career, so D'Arby left Germany and eventually landed in  London where his performances and songs grabbed the attention of CBS Records who decided to take a chance on the soul artist. D'Arby then recorded a couple of songs with producer Howard Gray, which included this debut single. It was released in England early in '87 and quickly made the Top 10 (#7) thanks in part to appearances on TV that showcased D'Arby's performance style. With the song hitting, CBS ordered a full album. D'Arby then worked with Martyn Ware (of Heaven 17) to produce tracks for a debut LP titled Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D'Arby. Released in the summer of '87, the album debuted at #1 in the UK and would spend nine non-consecutive weeks at the top. All the hype in the UK surrounding D'Arby set him up well for success at home in the US, but when this single was finally released in the fall, it was met with a shrug. It got to #19 at R&B and #47 Dance while peaking in the lower half of the Pop chart. It seemed that America wasn't quite ready for D'Arby's throwback soul, but that would change with the release of his next single.

ReduxReview:  I had forgotten that this was the lead single from the album. There was so much hype surrounding D'Arby after his album hit #1 in the UK it seemed like a no-brainer that he was going to easily conquer his home country. Weirdly, the initial reaction was "meh" here. The retro soul of this first single just didn't click with listeners. It also didn't help that back in the UK D'Arby's ego was in full bloom with him declaring his debut album the best of the decade and better than Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. That bravado, whether for real or just for show, fed the hype beast in the US with music fans anxiously awaiting to hear what this guy sounded like. Apparently, he didn't initially impress with this single unexpectedly under-performing. The results could have killed his career in the US, but he got a second chance with his next single. As for this one, I thought it was a good soul track and a fun listen. It just wasn't one that was going to knock everyone's socks off.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  After high school, D'Arby attended college for a bit but then dropped out and joined the US Army. According to his bio, D'Arby would spend four years in the military. Three of those years would be in the US while his final year was spent in Germany, where he began to focus more heavily on a music career. However, his bio doesn't include how his military career came to an end. Apparently while in Germany, his army life and music career clashed and it forced him to make a decision. D'Arby was scheduled to play a concert with The Touch, but he was denied permission to leave the army base for the performance. With his interest in the military flagging in favor of a career in music, D'Arby chose to go AWOL. The escapade ended up getting him a dishonorable discharge from the army. A few years later, D'Arby would be worldwide star with a multi-platinum debut album.


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