Teena Marie – Emerald City (1986)

Emerald City is the seventh album by Teena Marie, released in 1986. It is a stylistic departure for her, with strong blues and jazz influences favored over her established soul/funk style, and is a concept album. This proved puzzling for fans and critics, and the album sold poorly, peaking at #20 on the US Black Albums chart and #81 on the Billboard Albums chart. Two singles, “Lips to Find You” and “Love Me Down Easy”, were released.

After the success of Starchild, Teena at last, had the freedom as a lyricist and producer. With this freedom, came something else an almost unlimited budget. For what would become Emerald City, Teena wrote five tracks and cowrote three others. Two of the tracks Teena cowrote were with Penny Johnson, one of her regular songwriting partners. Being able to express herself freely as a lyricist appealed to Teena, and the resulting eight songs would become Teena’s only concept album. This concept album saw a real fusion of styles and influences. It was a departure from Teena’s usual combination of soul and funk, with jazz and rock flavoring the music. For this departure of styles, Teena needed a versatile band capable of playing a variety of musical styles.

Recording of the eight tracks that became Emerald City took place at two studios in Los Angeles. These were Ocean Way Studios and Conway Recording Studios. Joining Teena were musicians of the calibre of bassists Bootsy Collins and Stanley Clarke, guitarists Michael Landua and Stevie Ray Vaughan who played on one part. They joined percussionist Paulinho Da Costa, saxophonist Branford Marsalis and trumpeter Gary Grant. Adding backing vocals were sisters Maxime and Julia Waters. Many of the musicians who joined Teena, including Stanley Clarke, Paulinho Da Costa, Branford Marsalis and Gary Grant were primarily jazz players, pointing at the direction of Emerald City. Would the new sound and style of music on Emerald City appeal to Teena’s large and loyal fan-base?

Tracklist

1. “Emerald City” – 4:10
2. “Once Is Not Enough” – 5:47
3. “Lips to Find You”  (Bendrix, Marie) – 5:11
4. “You So Heavy”  (Marie, Penny “P.J.” Johnson) – 5:07
5. “Shangri-La”  (Marie, Johnson) – 5:04
6 .”Batucada Suite” – 5:06
7. “Love Me Down Easy” – 5:24
8. “Sunny Skies” – 7:14

All songs written by Teena Marie, except where noted.

Personnel

Vocals – Julia Waters, Maxine Waters, Tony Brockert
Drum Programming – Bootsy Collins
Guitar – Nikki Slikk
Percussion – Brian Kilgore
Piano – Randy Kerber, John Bokowski
Soloist, Guitar – Michael Landau, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Stanley Clarke
Bass – Nathan East, Allen McGrier, Bendrix, Abraham Laboriel
Arranged By [Horns] – Fred Mirza
Arranged By [Rhythm], Percussion – Paulinho Da Costa
Horns – Robert Findley, Charles Loper, Chuck Findley, Gary Grant, Jack Nimitez, Plaz Johnson
Drums – John Robinson
Soloist, Saxophone – Branford Marsalis

Companies, etc.

Credits

Notes
Released: July 22, 1986
Recorded: 1985-86
Genre: R&B, Jazz
Length: 43:03

Label – Epic Records

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