Thursday, June 9, 2016

Duke-The 10 Commandments Of Love (1995)


I have done as commanded—trusting my instincts and exploring elsewhere within the realm of house music outside of the trek through my collection that I had originally planned. The result of my latest side-mission was becoming acquainted with the British singer who calls himself Duke. Almost kind of an eerie coincidence that I would discover a singer with this name 'Duke', considering how its meaning relates to a title of royalty that ranks near the same level of a prince (according to the hierarchy of British nobility), then further considering his distinctively lofty, soulful vocal style that sounds as if it was adopted from and inspired by the recently-departed eclectic music legend himself: Prince. That had been my initial thoughts when his voice soared over the deep house groove of the opener, "Make Believeland", the looped ad libbing of 'baa, da da bap' chimed over and over main chorus against the sunny melody becoming all too catchy before long and making for quite the dreamy adventure. By the time I got to album's next deep house cut, "Sanctified Woman", it became clear that I'd ventured off from my recent 90's house-party festiveness and into a soothing ambient chill-out state of serenity, which actually served as a welcomed transition and helped me to get into a more relaxing mood for my Thursday evening. The only other time where there's a hint of that house-party festiveness, in fact, is during the speed run that is "Love Celebration". Celebrating love and celebrating good dance music all at the same time on this one; a pity that it's so short! Duke reigns supreme whenever he shines on the mid-tempo grooves—first on the jazzy tune "New Beginning", followed by the persuasive, thought-provoking deliverance of "Leave The Ground" (there's a cool, acid jazz arrangement about this one that I like), then the marvelously exquisite attraction that is "So In Love With You, one of his advertised hits that I found instantly captivating, thanks to the dreamy, suspenseful feel and the way that his lofty voice here is so haunting on the ears. It was on the title track itself—another chilled, middle tempo cut that speaks about following the guidelines set forth to stay on the right path to everlasting romance—where I concluded that Duke is like the male version of fellow British soul sensation Sade—exotic, engaging, alluring. "Monumental Love Thing" is a monumentally great festive funk party with so many sounds and textures to indulge in—from the touch of jazz accented by the synthesize horn riffs to the his astonishingly piercing vocals as he sings about the possibilities of what love could be if one allows it to be. Yet conquering above all would be Your Majesty's slowest offerings of all: "I'll Be", where he charms and promises to be whatever the love of his life wants him to be; "Welcome Back", with its thunderously epic production; and "Communication", where the title is a simple message reminding the listener of the importance of that crucial intangible in order for all relationships to work. Hear this Duke well on the acoustic guitar-driven offering, "Ain't No Sunshine", which serves as a nice preview to the bonus unplugged live-audience versions of select tracks that were found on exclusive double-disc versions of this album, but know that this Duke is in command of his kingdom wherever his voice is heard:

1. Make Believeland
2. Sanctified Woman
3. New Beginning
4. Leave The Ground
5. I'll Be
6. So In Love With You
7. Ain't No Sunshine
8. Magic Castle
9. 10 Commandments Of Love
10. Love Celebration
11. Monumental Love Thing
12. Welcome Back
13. Communication

*****BONUS TRACKS*****

14. New Beginning (Unplugged Version)
15. So In Love With You (Unplugged Version)
16. I'll Be (Unplugged Version)
17. Leave The Ground (Unplugged Version)
18. Monumental Love Thing (Unplugged Version)
19. Ain't No Sunshine (Unplugged Version)

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