Sheila E.

Romance 1600

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In 1985, a 25-year-old Sheila Escovedo, aka Sheila E., followed up her debut solo album, The Glamorous Life, with the equally Prince-influenced Romance 1600. The album cover found Escovedo and her band members sporting the attire of 17th century Europe, and the musicians were given such names as Dame Kelly, Benentino the Wizard, the Earl of Grey, and Sir Stephan. But once you get past the aristocratic imagery, Romance 1600 isn't much different from The Glamorous Life. Although Escovedo did most of the writing and producing herself, Prince's influence is strong throughout the album -- "Bedtime Story," "Sister Fate," and other selections all have that distinctive Minneapolis vibe. The only track that Prince co-wrote and co-produced with Escovedo is the funk gem "A Love Bizarre," which became a major hit and finds the two of them performing a vocal duet. As a vocalist, Escovedo never had Prince's range, but like Madonna and Janet Jackson, she demonstrates that singing can be meaningful even if the artist doesn't have the world's biggest voice. Although The Glamorous Life remains Escovedo's most essential album of the 1980s, Romance 1600 is a respectable follow-up and is also highly recommended to fans of Minneapolis funk-rock.

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