Album review: PAUL SABU – Sabu/Kidd Glove


PAUL SABU – Sabu Rock Candy Records [Release date 24.04.20]

1980: After building a name for himself as a producer of slicked back, funk-lite disco music, Paul Sabu took an out-of-the-blue offer from MCA Records to record a melodic rock album. The result was “Sabu”. A six track, 30 minute, always leave them feeling short changed, solo band album. The label had purged the album of what it considered “Unmelodic rock songs”, thus its truncated form, but now Rock Candy has ridden to the rescue, and added five “lost tracks” as a bonus.

It’s not clear if these are the purged material, or tracks that just didn’t make it to the final cut. Either way, it’s glaringly obvious that they should have been on the original album.

The remastering helps a lot. The bass, drums and keyboards are pushed up in the mix, compensating for a one dimensional rhythm guitar sound (though it cranks up on the fiery solos). The rebalancing works well, with Sabu’s vigorous, energetic vocals providing much of the propulsion that drives standout tracks, ‘Skintight’ and ‘Wet And Wild’ into head spinning heavy rotation.

Of the additional tracks, the doomy, stripped down cover of the Zombies’ ‘She’s Not There’ and a smoothed out, eighties rock version of Martha &The Vandellas ‘Nowhere To Run’ are actually quite brave attempts at doing something different, and they work well if you don’t really know the incomparable originals.

PAUL SABU - Kidd Glove

PAUL SABU – Kidd Glove Rock Candy Records [Release date 24.04.20]

It’s well documented in the Rock Candy liner notes that “Sabu”(1980) was the talented musician’s stepping stone to something bigger. The key moment was signing to Motown Records in 1984. Together, artist and label got it absolutely right. The common denominators of good AOR – drive, urgency and romanticism – are the key ingredients of the artist’s first Motown album, “Kidd Glove”.

The lowbrow lyrics of ‘Street Angel’ and ‘Killer Instinct’ leave little to the imagination, but musically Sabu has tuned in and locked on to the sound of the street, producing poprock songs picked up and heavily rotated by MTV and FM radio.

Notably though, there’s more to the music than radio rock. ‘Spirit Of The Night’ and ‘Fade To Black’ are two infinitely more sophisticated pieces. Both have an urbanity of tone missing from those earlier tracks, revealing just why Sabu ultimately became a much sought after writer/producer within the AOR/Melodic Rock genre.

It was an auspicious start to a long career in Melodic Rock.

The recording’s been remastered, impressively – and has 4 bonus tracks. It’s not the first time the album’s had this treatment, but this Rock Candy deluxe edition has the better choice of bonuses. ‘Rock Your World’ and ‘Rock Don’t Run’ may be weighed down by cliched titles, but two eminently catchy melodies do the heavy lifting, and Sabu’s joyfully breathless vocals do the rest, carrying them triumphantly to the finishing line.

Review by Brian McGowan

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 30 August 2020.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 8 September 2020.

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