The Sweetest Taboo (1985) – Sade – All about the Song…

Sade's cool vocals and sophisticated musical instrumental composition with a touch of jazz defined a new kind of soul music in the 80s...

The history of the song "The Sweetest Taboo" (1985) - Sade (Sade)

The composition "The Sweetest Taboo" ("The Sweetest Taboo") was born at the end of September 1985. The English band Sade released it as part of their 2nd studio album, Promise.


Helen Folashade Adu helped redefine urban soul when, as Sade, the Nigerian-born Londoner burst onto the scene in the mid-80s with her multi-platinum debut album, Diamond Life. Her laid-back, almost emotionless vocals were the perfect counterpoint to the impassioned, heavily embellished singing of Aretha Franklin or Whitney Houston. Recorded by "production engineer" Mike Pela and featuring Sade bandmates Stuart Matthewman (guitar/saxophone), Paul Denman (bass) and Andrew Hale (keyboards), "Diamond Life" was produced by Robin Millar in a smooth, quasi-jazzy style. at his own power plant in North West London. It spent 98 weeks on the UK charts, 81 weeks on the Billboard Top 200 and spawned the hit singles "Your Love Is King", "Hang On To Your Love" and "Smooth Operator".

Between February and August 1985, the same team reassembled for an even more successful follow-up to Sade's Promise, produced by herself, Robin Millar, Mike Pela and Ben Rogan. The album contained such hits as "Is It A Crime", "Never As Good As The First Time" and "The Sweetest Taboo"...

Sad Promise Min
Album cover of Promise (1985) – Sade

The meaning of the song

"The Sweetest Taboo" are descriptions of the ultimate pleasure in love. In this song, Sade sings with tenderness and love about a man who could give her these feelings. And now for her every day is Christmas, and every night is the New Year. The words "There's a quiet storm" are a reference to the radio format "Quiet Storm" ("Quiet Storm" is a mixture of music styles such as soul, jazz and jazz fusion. Some radio stations have included software in their formats rock and pop music), which is characterized by soft music. "Quiet Storm" is an allegory of Sade's sensory experience...


Sade Adu wrote this song with Martin Ditcham, who was the band's touring drummer. He and the band's official drummer, Dave Earley, came up with the signature pre-chorus percussion in the studio by placing glasses and bottles, then tapping them with various instruments and blowing up the bottles. Martin Ditchum played this on a Yamaha RX11 and presented it to his fellow musicians with a basic chord progression. They then processed it, turned it into a basic song with an "A" section and a "B" section, and brought it to the studio for Millar, Pela, and Sade to improve the structure and arrangement.

“What I like to do is point out the quirky little things that can come up when people look at stuff without really thinking about what they're doing – I can say, 'Hmm, that's good. Let's use it every eighth bar."


– Recording engineer Mike Pela

Sad Photo Min
Sade (Shade Adu)

The sound of rain has been added to the beginning and end of the song from the sound effects disc.

“In general, we worked on the track ‘Taboo’ for six or seven days, and then went back and tweaked it a bit towards the end of the project, because there were supposed to be 12-inch and seven-inch versions. I had a lot of fun with the recording because it was a good sounding track. It was simple but with a lot of detail and I remember finishing it as the sun rose over Willesden (Neighbourhood in London), A beautiful sight!”


– Recording engineer Mike Pela


Video clip

Directed by Brian Ward, the video shows Sade looking out the window at the desert landscape and thinking about the young man. In other scenes, the main character rides a horse and relaxes with her lover, who for her is a "sweet taboo". The video was constantly broadcast by VH1, which at that time had just launched as an alternative to MTV. VH1 was aimed at a more mature audience.


At home in the UK, the song "The Sweetest Taboo" ("The Sweetest Taboo") rose to number 31 on the UK Singles Chart, in the US the song was rated much better: there it was able to reach number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stay in the first 40 compositions for 13 weeks. It is also worth noting here that this is the second single by Sade (after "Smooth Operator"), which peaked at number 1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.

Sade transforms the composition and allows it to shine in all the power of softness and speed of taste. Singer Sade Adu boldly sings about how love was given to her, revealing only the best in her. The song is permeated with the presence of a "silent storm" that allows you to stand and, at the same time, dance to a warm and peaceful sound.

– Review by Tanya Rena Jefferson of AXS


Performance Sade (Sade) Live 2011



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