the world was not ready for teena marie. lots of people know and love her more popular hits like “square biz”, “deja vu”, “fire and desire” with rick james, and more. but a lot of her discography is not known. she has some serious HITS. she was continuously Doing That. she especially did it on her 1986 album, emerald city. this album is truly the definition of “underrated”. even teena herself didn’t talk about it much! so i’m giving justice to it with this post.
i really like talking about album covers. they really do affect how i feel about an album and they can set the vibe for an album. and this cover really does match with the sound of the album. first of all, she looks hella good. very fierce with that guitar and look on her face. i love the green tint. i hate the font though, i wish it was smaller.
the album is nine tracks of dark 80s jams. it doesn’t feel too long, and it’s interesting the whole way through. between her lyrics and the instrumentals, you really get the whole “dark city with green lights” vibe she was going for. there is one song that kind of immediately takes you out of that but it’s such a good song that you don’t really notice how out of place it is. i’ll have to listen to it again and read about the concept/story she was going for with the album but teena has always been good with her storytelling, her songwriting has never been weak. she really took her voice to the next level with this album. if you don’t like her singing on songs like “out on a limb” you might not like her singing on this album.
she dabbled in a few genres on this album. there’s a great heavy metal riff on the aptly titled “you so heavy”, “shangri-la” is a quiet storm BOP. i think about being in one of those dark transylvanian castles wearing one of these joints in all black…
while green lightning flashes in the background when i hear it. “batucadia suite” is a jazzy tune about wanting to get away. and you know she had to bring her signature ballad with “sunny skies”. i can see how someone could hate this album. it’s kinda weird, her vocals are out of the ordinary, it does sound just a bit dated. but that’s exactly what i like about! this is what i imagine 1986 to sound to me. her vocals are so unique that i wanna keep listening just to hear them. i love that it’s weird. the 80s weren’t ready!
to be honest, i’m not sure why this album flopped. it sounds like something the 80s would have lovably embraced. i hate to stir shit up but if prince made this album everyone would’ve loved it. but looking back, who knows? teena was just coming off her very popular album starchild. i guess the public wanted more songs like “lovergirl”. but miss marie was not one to sell out. she made what she wanted to make. so she made emerald city. even if it didn’t sell well and critics didn’t like it (don’t trust em!) it’s a solid album.
i’ve been really into teena marie lately. i’ve always loved her music but i’m especially diving into it recently. i’m now officially kicking myself for not picking up the vinyl of this album considering i was just at amoeba and saw it. i ignored it then went home and turned on a teena marie radio station on spotify and shangri-la came up!! and i fell in love. long story short, always watch out for your favorite artists underrated cuts.
to close off this post, a very accurate comment from “batucadia suite”…
she truly did, teamwolfstamp.