The Sphinx – Sananda Maitreya/TTD

Warning:

Contains comments that may offend.

The Sphinx

The artist better known as Terence Trent D’Arby first began working on the follow-up to his 2009 album “Nigor Mortis” the following year. As per usual he was releasing individual chapters containing songs that would eventually become a part of said project. It was also while this album was being worked on that his wife, Francesca gave birth to their first born son, Franceso Mingus Maitreya. Who ever said this guy was not a nut job? Sorry, but it is what it is. On that very same note, let me get into this review…. and no I don’t exactly have anything to say in “Sananda’s” favour. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!:

The Sphinx: Just a short instrumental piece to get things going. I’m not a musician but it doesn’t sound like it’s being played very well at all. This is what happens when you think you can do it all on your own. OK, so once that’s done, we move onto the first actual song on the album, which is….

Christine: First reaction to this song in 2010: “OK, so his drumming sounds all right on this track… so far so good…. track reaches 0:12 mark. **Forehead smack** Oh, man. That is the worst guitar riff ever I have ever heard. He sounds like a beginner now.” Five years later, this was still the very same reaction. Apart from that, if you go all the way back to his first album, “Introducing The Hardline According To TTD” and you listen to the song “Dance Little Sister,” you’ll notice that he says, “Shout it out, or let it stay inside and eat you alive.” In other words, he’s talking about releasing your anger, once again just as he did on “The Inner Scream” from “Wildcard.” Oh and let’s not forget the song “Screamer” from “Angels & Vampires.” This time around he’s telling somebody by the name of Christine to “release your anger, or else life becomes a middle finger.” Other words, this is typical TTD/Sananda.

I Saw Her: On the positive tip, this is TTD/Sananda delivering some killer gritty soul. On the negative tip, he really goes for it vocally, which means that it makes for somewhat of an excruciating listen! This dude is practically SCREAMING his head off. Honestly if he sang this a bit calmer it would have been tolerable. Since he didn’t, NEXT!

If All I Do Is Cry: Yeah. That opening guitar riff sounds all kinds of forced doesn’t it? Not really what you would expect from a guy who’s been a musician for over 20 years now. Most likely he’s singing from another man’s perspective: “Don’t you be afraid of my gun.” Yeah, sure mate. Next.

The Ballad Of LeBron & Kobe: Oh, Jeez! When this alleged “song” was first released, it was made available for free as a part of the according “chapter” that he was putting out at the time. Initially it sounded too much like a reject from the “Angels & Vampires” sessions, but apart from that, he’s paying tribute to two basketball players in the States that he thinks are the greatest. In my opinion? This is so stupid. In fact it’s pathetic. NEXT!!!

The Blame: On this next track, he’s continuing on from the Country & Western vibe he introduced on his previous album “Nigor Mortis.” Ok, I’ll give him a pass on this one, it’s not too bad, he’s got a banjo going on in there along with some programmed horns. There’s just the right amount of grit in his voice this time around, so I’m not complaining too much, it’s actually listenable for once, as he’s not screaming.

clearance trent darbyThe Captain’s Table: On the one hand, I want to write this off as yet another example of TTD/Sananda’s silliness but the more I listen to it, the more I think he was probably just trying to have a bit of fun. He’s talking about pirates and walking the plank. Either he was watching too many “Pirates Of the Caribbean” films or he was trying to do something reminiscent of the children’s song “What do you do with a drunken sailor?” It even sounds a bit like he was watching too much Seinfeld as he keeps saying “Yadda, yadda, yadda.” Positively, the harmonies are on point. But all of that said, there is only one word to describe what I am hearing right now: FUCKERY. NEXT!

All The Way To Memphis: Maybe this guy should start calling himself “Sananda Maitreya: Master of Forced Guitar Riffs And Drunk Drumming,” cause that’s exactly what you get here, along with REALLY LOUD, SHOUTED VOCALS, especially in the chorus, that make you wince. Given that the concept of this song involves a man whose friend passed away and he’s now driving through certain parts of America trying to get to where this now deceased person is, perhaps the vocals were intended to be delivered as such. Oh, I really wish this guy wouldn’t scream so much, it’s really annoying. NEXT!

Euphoria: Now see? This is exactly the reason why I keep following “Sananda’s” career, because I know he is capable of songs like this one that really hark back to the TTD days. The harmonies especially are reminiscent of what he used to do: “Young man what you gonna do? When love gets a hold of you?” Brilliant.

Azerbaijan: Here we go again with the fucked up guitar riffs and the idiotic concepts. Again this one is reminiscent of what he was doing on “Angels & Vampires,” as it sounds really rough and raw. I’m sure he was just messing around again, trying to have some kind of a laugh. Ha ha so funny. Songs about wearing goggles and pyjamas while looking silly are not exactly my cup of tea though.

Christine – Part 2: If you look beyond the really bad guitar playing and the even worse attempts at reggae (if that’s what it’s supposed to be) Then it’s safe to say you’re left with a fairly decent song…. or at least one that’s passable. He’s harmonising with himself again, which always sounds nice to me. Seems like there was a bit of an attempt at that Timberland sound going on as well here…. or maybe that was the bad drumming again? It’s a bit of rock & pop as well. Either way, you can’t really categorise what he’s doing here, which was a part of his uniqueness regardless of whatever he chooses to call himself, Terence, Sananda, Ciccio. In this case the sequel doesn’t suck so much.

King Of The Silver Medal: Fair enough, another decent pop tune. Bad guitar riffs aside for the umpteenth time. I’m sure this is just another bit of fun. This time he’s singing from the perspective of an athlete, a cyclist in particular in the Tour De France. There’s also a reference to drug testing in the lyrics. Of course that had to get in there. Not bad.

This Far: Here comes the country western vibe again. Perhaps another fictitious one about a fellow who’s always fighting with his woman, but they’ve made it “this far” as he keeps saying. Certainly no wincing occurs whenever this song is played, so that’s a good sign. Not a bad effort.

Sananda’s Variation On A Theme By Mozart: Would this have been the beginning of a different side if it were an LP record? Who knows? Perhaps he wanted to include some kind of prelude towards the more personal side of the album?

Marry Me: Mostly a piano based song which is very much self explanatory. He’s proposing. If you’re a hardcore fan you might want to dedicate it to your wife-to-be, but if the song does nothing for you, you’ll just say… nope, sorry, mate. And you’ll press skip. NEXT!!!

Big Baby: NOW. You would think that because his wife was pregnant with his first born son that he would be including some incredibly heartfelt songs about his child. Instead he brings us this shit, operative word: “You’re such a big baby, a big baby. Half of us are on crack, the other half on prozac, our sanity’s out of whack” Seriously? On second thought, yeah he probably is on crack. Admission is the first step.

What Baby Wants: The good thing about this song is that it has a very jazzy type of vibe. There is also an instrumental version of this album, so you can just play that version of this song and just kind of vibe to that. Of course without enduring the nonsensical lyrics: “What baby wants, baby gets, what baby wants my baby gets.” What Butthead wants Beavis gets. What Beavis wants, Butthead gets. What bestia wants, bestia gets. What scecco wants, cretino gets. NEXT!!!

Eat My Thumb: One more song inspired by and dedicated to his son Francesco. This one begins with the words: “Ga Ga Goo Goo. Can I have a talk with you? Let’s speak while you clean up my boo boo.” Seriously? Onto the next song. Please.

Time Takes Time (Takes 2): Basically he’s taken a song from the “Angels & Vampires” album, in this case “Time Takes Time” and he’s orchestrated it, which is actually very nice sounding. Obviously this piece and the Variation on Mozart are bookended by the previous four songs. If he wanted the songs to be heard as a part of a suite, then, job well done.

I Never Know: One of the first songs to be released from “The Sphinx” album along with “Euphoria.” Again it’s a very nice ballad which is quite reminiscent of his old material. The only real issue I have is that it sounds TOO MUCH like “Euphoria.” I mean the song, not the feeling! New names aside, THIS is the Terence Trent D’Arby & I know and love.

The Laughing Song: Head shakes and forehead slaps are in full effect again. Drunk drums and silly laughing sounds are all over this track. You’ve got to laugh about it. Despite my disdain for this track I actually caught myself quoting it back in 2011. Of course the other person had no idea WTF I was referencing. Just as well. OK, NEXT!

The Quarterback Song: One more absolutely dreadful song about sports. And again he’s screaming his head off, telling us that this is indeed THE QUARTERBACK SONG!!! And you know what? I couldn’t care less because it’s so bloody annoying. NEXT!

The Sphinx – Reprise: Really just a shorter version of what began the album. That fades out after 24 seconds and brings us to….

She’s Sad: Admittedly, this was one of my favourites when it first came out and it’s still not so bad to listen to. But then after a while you start to realise that he may have just made it all up on the spot because it ends up sounding a bit wanky, “She’s sad, after all the things I’ve done to her, she’s sad, after all the things I said to her, she’s sad…. because this song is getting too nonsensical…..” OK maybe he didn’t say that but you can see where I’m coming from, right? But anyway all of that said it’s not a bad closer for the album.

Verdict: Overall, A VERY INCONSISTENT ALBUM from the artist who now calls himself Sananda Maitreya. Some songs are very well presented and are therefore very good. Others are absolutely ATROCIOUS and ridiculous. If he could hook back up with Stevie Salas, Patrice Rushen, Wynton Marsalis and all of those incredible musicians who played on his “Symphony Or Damn” and “Vibrator” albums, he could tear shit up again. We all know what TTD/Sananda is capable of, but he chooses to sound amateurish instead: Deliberately forgetting his own lyrics, playing all off-key, singing all out of tune and screaming his head off, but ultimately, REALLY not giving a fuck. What a shame.