D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

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Setherex
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D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby Setherex » Mon Dec 15, 2014 5:34 am

Just a general note, I love talking with you guys on the forum. Though I don't post all that much, reading some of the analysis-heavy opinions on this board of albums, songs, and artists have been intriguing and thought-provoking. That being said, this forum is also unlike any forum I've been a part of in that over half of all discussion has to do with either lists or polls. I wanted to start a series of topics where we could purely go more into discussion without needing to rate or rank things. Heck, even the general yearly album topic goes into heavy list making after a while.

So, as least as my own contribution, I'd like to see how interested you all are in discussing a newly released buzzed-about album, say, once or twice a week. No one needs to write seven paragraphs talking about how they feel about the album's general premise, and no one is limited to just posting about how they liked one song above the others. It's open season; just listen, speak your mind, and hopefully it will inspire the forum's community to all join in and listen to some new, diverse music together. And I think D'Angelo is a perfect place to start.

Image

"Black Messiah"
D'Angelo and The Vanguard
Neo-Soul (Funk / Psychedelic Soul / Funk Rock)
Running Time: 56 min

01. "Ain't That Easy"
02. "1000 Deaths"
03. "The Charade"
04. "Sugah Daddy"
05. "Really Love"
06. "Back in the Future (Part I)"
07. "Till It's Done (Tutu)"
08. "Prayer"
09. "Betray My Heart"
10. "The Door"
11. "Back in the Future (Part II)"
12. "Another Life"

Last edited by Setherex on Sat Dec 20, 2014 9:50 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby Nick » Mon Dec 15, 2014 5:46 am

I really like this idea of yours, Setherex. I love this forum, and we do love our polls and lists (nothing wrong with that!), but some good meaty discussion is always more than welcome.

I first listened to D'Angelo about 5 years ago, when I was trying to listen to most of the classics of the 2000's before the decade was over. The only album I've heard of his is "Voodoo", which I certainly enjoy, but I wouldn't call it an all time favorite. That being said, I'm very interested to hear "Black Messiah", not just because I like "Voodoo", but also because there's something about long lost or long awaited albums that really piques my interests (see "mbv", "SMiLE", etc.).

I'll probably give "Black Messiah" a listen in the next day or two, and then I'll post my thoughts.

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Re: D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby irreduciblekoan » Mon Dec 15, 2014 5:56 am

I came to this forum just now to post about this album's release tomorrow, and you beat me to it. Talk about highly anticipated. D'Angelo's first two albums are both in the top 1000 on AM, and now his third is finally coming out. I haven't listened to it yet so I don't know if it lives up to his previous work. but IF it turns out to be a great album, I am worried that the late release date will mess up his EOY chances. He may need decade and all-time lists to make up for it.

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Re: D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby Setherex » Mon Dec 15, 2014 5:59 am

Thanks Nick! Agreed, nothing wrong with polls and lists. But I do also love the idea of us joining together for weekly forum listening sessions :music-listening: followed by the vicious spouting of our feelings, like a strangely diverse family gathering together for Christmas.

I became far more hyped for "Black Messiah" earlier this week, after my roommate told me that he had never listened to a D'Angelo album before. Obviously, I immediately broke out the ol' "Voodoo" vinyl. And now I'm going through my first of what are sure to be many listens to "Black Messiah" as I type this. Perhaps this topic was a bit premature in that sense... but I'll get back to that thought later!

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Re: D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby bootsy » Mon Dec 15, 2014 2:56 pm

I haven't listened to Black Messiah yet but intend to today. This was such a nice surprise. It has been a long wait and so many rumors and now it is finally here. I honestly never thought he would release another album. As great as Voodoo is, Brown Sugar is just as good so hopefully BM will be on par with those two and we won't have to wait another 15 years for another album from D.

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Re: D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby sonofsamiam » Mon Dec 15, 2014 6:15 pm

One time through, and it's great. I especially love "The Charade" and "Another Life" so far.

And yes, we talk a LOT about lists (guilty as charged), but I cannot avoid mentioning that this will likely jump high into my 2014 EOY.

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Re: D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby Setherex » Tue Dec 16, 2014 12:21 am

Listened to "Black Messiah" three times now. Still trying to process its amazingness, but it is definitely amazing. Otherwise, not too many thoughts that don't start with "wow."

Maybe just one: Pino Palladino is most definitely the grooviest bass player alive.

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Re: D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby Nick » Tue Dec 16, 2014 3:42 am

Just finished listening to the album. After one listen I can tell that I certainly like it, and that it's without a doubt a good album, but it (along with "Voodoo") are good albums that just happen to be missing some crucial element that helps me connect to my favorite R&B albums (like "What's Going On", "Channel Orange", "There's a Riot Goin' On", etc.). D'Angelo is immensely talented, but only a couple songs on "Black Messiah" suggest an evolution in sound, the rest of the album kind of sounds like a sonic retread of the stuff on "Voodoo".

Still though, despite these criticisms, I want to reiterate that it's a strong album overall. It just doesn't have the makings of a favorite for me.

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Re: D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby irreduciblekoan » Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:53 am

So Black Messiah is getting astonishing reviews, which isn't surprising because I myself loved it. 96 so far on Metacritic. Which begs the question: what will its eventual AM success be? It's being released too late in the year for a decent EOY placement. It's best hope is a few years down the line for all-time and decade lists, unfortunately.

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Re: D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby HRS » Wed Dec 17, 2014 11:32 am

I had mixed feelings. It is enjoyable, but also highly indebt to old school R&B records, some parts sound already dated on arrival – and analog is not a reason for it. If someone had told me this was a D'Angelo album recorded during the 90s that has just resurfaced I'd believe. This shouldn't impact the listening experience at all, I think. Although I feel that the reception is being highly influenced by the fact that is a new D'Angelo album after so many years. This record has been out for such a short amount of time that it's a tad ridiculous to see such glowing reviews coming out. It feels like My Bloody Valentine's mbv all over the again.

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Re: D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby bootsy » Thu Dec 18, 2014 4:30 am

This album is getting well deserved reviews. I loved it from beginning to end. Can't wait for repeated listens to see if it really sinks in like Brown Sugar and Voodoo. I also like the fact that it is only 12 tracks. That's perfect IMO. He didn't try to put a bunch of songs on the album to make up for the almost 15 year absence. I do wonder if down the line we'll get a deluxe/special edition of this album.

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Re: D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby HRS » Thu Dec 18, 2014 3:17 pm

Oh my, what a grower. I take it all back, just give me The Charade in loop.

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Re: D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby Gillingham » Sat Dec 20, 2014 5:20 pm

I've heard some songs from his new album, and I must admit that I'm really impressed. I didn't really know much of his work before last week, so this album made me decide to do a crash-course in D'Angelo. And yes, ain't he an amazingly talented musician who does things just slightly different from 99% of the R&B and soul musicians. Sure, he's indebted to a lot of the greats, but at the same time he is very much his own man as well. He's got me convinced so far, and I will chronologically buy and explore his albums. Looking forward to start with Brown Sugar in a couple of days.
Bring it on D'Angelo!
Last edited by Gillingham on Sat Dec 20, 2014 5:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby Nick » Sat Dec 20, 2014 5:37 pm

Just finished my second listen through "Black Messiah". The album is definitely a bit of a grower, and some of the melodies on the album became a bit more clear on a subsequent listen. But while a second listen has lead me to liking "Black Messiah" more, it has also reinforced my belief that there's something fundamental missing from the album, a fundamental quality which prevents it from being a favorite of mine. "Black Messiah" is currently residing in the lower reaches of my top 20 of this year, and I can't see it ranking much higher than that (and 2014 was an especially weak year). It's a good album, but the overwhelming praise it's getting and comparisons between this and Sly Stone, Jimi Hendrix, and Prince, are a little head scratching. But hey, that's opinions for you!

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Re: D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby bootsy » Sat Dec 20, 2014 10:43 pm

Nick wrote:Just finished my second listen through "Black Messiah". The album is definitely a bit of a grower, and some of the melodies on the album became a bit more clear on a subsequent listen. But while a second listen has lead me to liking "Black Messiah" more, it has also reinforced my belief that there's something fundamental missing from the album, a fundamental quality which prevents it from being a favorite of mine. "Black Messiah" is currently residing in the lower reaches of my top 20 of this year, and I can't see it ranking much higher than that (and 2014 was an especially weak year). It's a good album, but the overwhelming praise it's getting and comparisons between this and Sly Stone, Jimi Hendrix, and Prince, are a little head scratching. But hey, that's opinions for you!

Those opinions are pretty spot on especially if you've heard D'Angelo's past work. his style has always been compared to those artist. It should and deserves to get that praise.

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Re: D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby Matski » Sun Dec 21, 2014 3:32 pm

Third listen right now - like many of you I'm really enjoying what there is to be heard. Hard to say for sure but I can see myself possibly liking it as much as 'Brown Sugar' and even more than 'Voodoo', which always felt long-winded to me. Definitely not going to go around saying it's 'the best album in the last twenty years' or 'the best soul album ever' like some of the commenters I've seen posting elsewhere but one on the better albums of this year? Sure.

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Re: D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby Jackson » Sun Dec 21, 2014 11:09 pm

I've never heard a D'Angelo album before, but glad this album is a catalyst to explore his back catalog. The first listen didn't click, but on the second listen...yeah, it's really really good. I think the difficult thing is that the album lacks a catchy 'single'-type song (unlike the artists D'Angelo is often compared to), but obviously the musicianship and overall vibe of the album is excellent. I look forward to hearing Voodoo and Brown Sugar.

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Re: D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby jamieW » Sun Dec 21, 2014 11:34 pm

Without question, "Black Messiah" is a strong album, but both Nick and Jackson touched upon a major problem I personally have with it. Nick said that it's missing an element, and Jackson said that it's missing a stand-out single. Since I'm much, much more of a songs person than an albums person, these are one in the same for me. I genuinely enjoy the album as a whole, but I just can't find that single song to make it truly special for me. I definitely do see the reason for the hype, though, and can understand the comparisons to R&B legends (especially Sly & Prince). However, this is based upon an initial review and subject to change...

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Re: D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby Nick » Mon Dec 22, 2014 1:34 am

The lack of a standout song might just be the problem at the heart of "Black Messiah" for me. What would "There's a Riot Goin' On" be without "Family Affair"? What would "What's Going On" be without its title track? They'd still be great albums, but there would be something noticeably missing from them. There are a lot of really good songs on "Black Messiah", but there isn't any one song that makes me stop in my tracks.

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Re: D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby bootsy » Mon Dec 22, 2014 6:38 am

Not sure why this album needs a standout song. That sometimes, must of the time for me, takes away from an album. I want the entire body of work to be consistent good or great and not one or two songs. D'Angelo has never been a standout song kind of artist. His most popular song is probably "Untitled (How Does It Feel)" and "Lady". Neither one are very memorable songs. What stands out is the entire body of work.

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Re: D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby Gillingham » Mon Dec 22, 2014 8:35 am

bootsy wrote:Not sure why this album needs a standout song. That sometimes, must of the time for me, takes away from an album. I want the entire body of work to be consistent good or great and not one or two songs. D'Angelo has never been a standout song kind of artist. His most popular song is probably "Untitled (How Does It Feel)" and "Lady". Neither one are very memorable songs. What stands out is the entire body of work.

I agree. Great albums don't need standout songs. The overall flow and lack of filler is what makes a good album great, not one stellar song.

But then again, I've already heard one or two songs on Black Messiah that are exceptionally good.

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Re: D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby Matski » Mon Dec 22, 2014 12:29 pm

True - if music enthusiasts are still talking about the album in five/ten/twenty years time with great reverence then that's all that really matters. Saying that, there are a few specific songs that seem to be highly popular; '1000 Deaths', 'The Charade' and 'Sugah Daddy' are all top calls.

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Re: D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby sonofsamiam » Mon Dec 22, 2014 3:24 pm

Matski wrote:True - if music enthusiasts are still talking about the album in five/ten/twenty years time with great reverence then that's all that really matters. Saying that, there are a few specific songs that seem to be highly popular; '1000 Deaths', 'The Charade' and 'Sugah Daddy' are all top calls.


I hear lots of highlights on this -- those that Matski just called out, plus Another Life, which I just keep on playing and will be in my top 5 songs of the year...

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Re: D'Angelo and The Vanguard's "Black Messiah"

Postby Rocky Raccoon » Wed Dec 24, 2014 6:27 pm

I'm in. As usual, D'Angelo seamlessly blends his influences with his own unique style, but this time around he sounds a little more diversified to my ears. As much as I like Voodoo, it can be a little of a monolithic listen for the whole length of the album.
Some things that hit me right away include the heavy-bottomed bass of "Ain't That Easy," the playful piano and hand-clapping groove of "Sugah Daddy" and the light, bluesy heartbreak of "The Door."
I'm not quite so head-over-heals in love with it as some people, I think it hits a bit of a lull in the middle, but it is a really good album. In somewhat of a down year, it's vying in my head for title of best album with St. Vincent.


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