Contains comments that may offend.
Just like a songwriter or musician, I was met with the urge to write a review of the former Terence Trent D’Arby’s album “Return To Zooathalon,” which he released in 2013 after initially distributing the songs in chapter form on his website, as he usually does. Now, as this review was being written…… I really must say, I wasn’t too thrilled with the way it was turning out. But you know what they say, right?: You can’t exactly polish a turd. Besides,I’m no musician, so who the fuck am I to judge? Anyway, this is what I had to say about the album, song by song… and no, it ain’t exactly pretty… so be forewarned, bitches. Hardcore Sun Over fans stand clear.
Brimstone Follies: Screechy vocals aside, this is quite an effective introduction to the album that features African percussion and references to such song titles as “Stagger Lee,” “Kangaroo” and “Camel.” This intro is very much unravelling itself to the listener. Quite reminiscent of what Prince would do on songs like “Push” from the “Diamonds & Pearls” album and the title track of “Newpower Soul” from 1998. Onto the next track.
Don’t Follow Me: Damn. This “Sananda” dude’s vocals are incredibly off-key. Was he always like this and I never noticed? Or did the engineer always go back and fine tune everything that he did? The mind wonders… and wanders. Anyhow, if you look beyond that, he still kind of sounds like the TTD of old, in that he’s otherwise managed to construct a solid pop song with nice harmonies. Other than that, I WON’T follow you. NEXT!
Save Me: This song features the lyric: “At least I never had my head so far up my ass.” Are we talking about the same guy here? Or did he forget who he was? Anyways, it’s a fairly decent song for what it is. The word soulful definitely enters the mind when listening to this song.
Dancing With Mr. Nostalgia: Hold up… let me take a huge swig of Jack Daniels. Maybe then I’ll be able to feel what “Sananda” was feeling when he laid down the drum track. The guitar, too. Let me say it again for the umpteenth time, it’s a great idea and an even greater message (Don’t dwell in the past!) but it’s marred by horrible musicianship. That’s why his music SUFFERS now. Actually a better message would be, “Hey, kids! Stay off the grog before you play the instruments on your albums.”
Stagger Lee – Part 1: Obviously this is not a cover of an old soul song. It’s an original composition, which again suffers from horrible musicianship. “All the whiskey on his tongue…” Hey at least he’s admitting this time around. Now, in the past when he was known as Terence Trent D’Arby he might have made a few funky soul songs, but as “Sananda” it’s quite safe to say, he cannot make a funk song to save his life. Just because he’s black doesn’t mean he can funk. Or rather, like Bootsy Collins said, “Don’t fake the funk or your nose gots to grow!”
Stagger Lee – Part 2: No wonder the Italians love this guy’s music now, this shit literally sounds like the Tarantella combined with a fucking kazoo whistle. What the fuck was he thinking?! Oh well, good luck to him for recording what he felt like recording.
Ornella Or Nothing: Ah, thank God! He’s blessed us with a very beautiful ballad, reminiscent of his “Vibrator” album. Oh, wait a second…. the vocals on this track are just a tad bit irritating and off-key at times. If it weren’t for that, it would have been absolutely perfect. This is what we all know and love Terence Trent D’Arby for, regardless of what he calls himself now. On second thought… the vocals are getting on my damn nerves!!! NEXT!!
Where Do Teardrops Fall?: Oh, dear here come the forced guitar riffs and drunk drums again. If you look at the lyrics, he was obviously trying to say something profound as he always does. Unfortunately the dude literally sounds like Roseanne Barr screeching her way through the Star Spangled banner. Holy shit balls, it’s unbearable!!! NEXT!!
Albuquerque: Hella off-key guitar riff that kicks this song off. It continues all the way through. In typical TTD fashion its chorus is a pun: “I’ll be damned or Albuquerque.” Ha ha so funny. Reminds me of one of his other songs…. whose name escapes me now…. it must have been that good. NEXT!!
Camel: On his first album as TTD he said: “Say a prayer for my camel.” Now here he is over 20 years later dedicating an entire song to said animal. For some reason, I can never look beyond the atrocious musicianship and again, there’s plenty of that here. Bad drumming, bad keys, bad everything. Dreadful!
Mr. Grüberschnickel: In my opinion the way he sings the chorus harks back to “If You All Get To Heaven” or something off of that “Hardline” album from 1987. It’s a shame that what he’s actually saying is quite silly: “So Mr. Grüberschnickel..… Have another pickle….Eat your Wiener Schnitzel. And let it ride, let it ride.” What’ll they think of next? That’s a good word actually, NEXT!!!
Just Go Easy: Sorry, mate. I would have if you didn’t present your music so badly. Seriously though it sounds like this may or may not be a personal song, given that it begins with: “There are things I wish I never said.” That infamous quote about his debut LP being bigger than “Sgt Peppers” comes to mind. Still haunts him this day. It’s a shame though, if Terence or Sananda or whatever his name is was such a sensitive soul, why did he always come off so egotistical in interviews? I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt this time, not a bad attempt at funk. Not great either.
Tequila Mockingbird: The guy who backed him up on the “Vibrator” album and tour must have taught him how to drum, because he’s used the very same James Brown styled beat ever since. Sometimes it just sounds dreadful. Here, it’s not so bad, neither is the song… even though it’s idiotically titled. Seriously? “Tequila Mockingbird.” He must have been consuming too much Tequila when he was making diss shit.
She’s Not Right: This song begins with the former TTD asking: “How long can I hold this flame, baby?” Perhaps that explains all the screaming he did all over this album and its last few predecessors. Jokes aside, it’s another halfway decent tune that’s really quite rough and raw sounding, sort of like what he did on “Angels & Vampires.”
Return To Zooathalon: He might be using a different moniker these days but this title track is yet another example of classic TTD. Gritty soul with really loud rocking guitar riffs….. and yes, I hear a few musical and vocal flaws, but I’ll let them slide this time around.
Walkaway (Ghost Song): Now see? Why couldn’t he have sang “Ornella Or Nothing” and “Where Do Teardrops Fall” like this? Why all the annoying screeching? When he sings like this, it’s perfect. Clearly this is quite a heartfelt acoustic ballad, even if its lyrics are probably just a work of fiction. He really ought to stick to singing like this from here on out.
Hurricane Me & You: The first minute and fifteen seconds of this song are quite bluesy, but then when you least expect it, he slaps you in the face with some other shit entirely. Would shit be the operative word here? Let’s not get too carried away. Too late, I’ve said even worse. Anyway what he’s done here is a tad reminiscent of the song “Gloria” from “Angels & Vampires.” At least musically. Lyrically… is he referencing his web mistress Lily? No it’s the Hurricane named Lily. Eh… OK. Next.
If I Go Away: Why does this song sound so much like the title track? Is his pool of ideas really that shallow? “You killed my Mazel Tov and you nearly killed me off.” What? That’s a bit silly isn’t it? What does he even mean by that crazy shit?
Free To Be: Another nice ballad….. oh, okay, at 0:25 I stand corrected, it turns into another one of those rock songs with the drunk drumming. At this point he’s done these kinds of songs ad nauseum. Why? I don’t get it. Oh, it goes back into a ballad again at a minute and thirty seconds. Does this song fluctuate like that the whole way through? The guitar riffs are certainly horrendous again. Indeed, it fluctuates. I’d imagine there’s some kind of concept going on here, as he name checks the album. Yeah, good on you, you’re free to be whatever you want to be. Good on you for following your heart, even though what you’re putting out is mostly shite.
Kangaroo: Here we go again, this song is very, very badly arranged. Incredibly messed up. Apart from that, how much of it is autobiographical? In particular the lines: “I’ve got a woman I can’t explain” and “I have a son who breaks my balls.” This dude even talked about being woken up by a toddler jumping on his balls. In a way that’s true, but he’s fucking crazy for that shit, Jack. And kangaroo says, NEXT!!!
D.H.S.: What the fuck’s this? Thirty six seconds of Sun Under blowing a kazoo and drumming. Honestly I would expect diss shit from a 4 year old boy.
The Last Train To Houston: Your call could not be connected. Please. Hold. The Line. Oops. This is a tribute to Whitney Houston. Sorry. It sounds too much like that music they make you listen to when they put you on hold.
Verdict: Honestly, if this is, as he emphatically declares, “The arrival of Maitreya,” then please by all means, bring back Terence Trent D’Arby, or at least, grab the guy who now calls himself Sananda Maitreya by the dreads and get him signed to another major label. That way they can hook him up with killer musicians & producers so he can kick ass again, cause right now he thinks he can do it all, but that’s not true at all, Sun Under: Just because you can play all the instruments, it doesn’t mean you should. When you can play them WELL and you’re not repeating yourself or screeching your way through your songs, then you can get back to us. Please! Until then, you are NOT Prince or Stevie Wonder and you never will be.