February should not simply be a four-week period devoted to repeating incessantly why Dr. King and Rosa Parks were heroes, but also to unearthing and rediscovering achievements by black folks who fell through the cracks on the long march toward equality. So in honor of Black History Month, Gigi is here to tell all y’all that you really missed the boat on Terence Trent D’Arby. Seriously. Yeah, I know his ego probably fills an airplane hangar, but so does Mick Jagger’s, and that never held him back.
The comparison of D’Arby with Jagger is an apt one, as both singers make the most of similar natural attributes – namely, super-skinny bodies that shake and twist with ease and saucy, pillowy lips. Like Jagger during the Performance period, D’Arby enjoyed an easy-going androgyny in his early career, with luxurious braids that flew to and fro when he took the stage to rock your world. I swear I will never understand how his blazin’ first single, If You Let Me Stay failed to become a hit in the U.S. while making the top 20 in his adopted country, the U.K. Are the people of America really that funk-deficient? Have we lost that founding funkiness which fueled the Revolution and underpins our Constitution? Granted, the Fifty States eventually lived up to the funkitude that is our birthright when we bopped and grooved, respectively, to Wishing Well and Sign Your Name but perhaps if the rest of you had shown more appreciation earlier on, TTD wouldn’t have made the unfortunate detour of the Neither Fish nor Flesh album, which might well have been called Neither Fun nor Memorable.
D’Arby’s redemption record, Symphony or Damn, is a Black History Month in itself; it sounds like it was made by a nation of men, not just one Eurotrashy expatriate preacher’s son. From the nasty guitars of She Kissed Me to the sexy-sweet vocals of Delicate to the comic pop of “Penelope Please,” it sounds like the younger brother of Prince’s Sign O’ the Times. I guess America only has room for one megalomaniacal, eccentric black funkmaster at a time (and no, Kanye does NOT count), but maybe during Black History Month, TTD can get some affirmative action up in here.