Sheila E.

The Glamorous Life

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When Sheila Escovedo started going by Sheila E. and soared to the top of the R&B charts with 1984's "The Glamorous Life," those who didn't know anything about her background assumed that she was just another Vanity or another Apollonia -- in other words, a sexploitive Prince disciple who was entertaining but had limited ability as a vocalist. It's true that the singer/drummer/percussionist doesn't have a great voice, but anyone who was hip to her work with Azteca, Pete Escovedo (her father), and George Duke knew that she was an excellent musician. As a drummer/percussionist, Escovedo has major chops -- and even though she doesn't have a mind-blowing vocal range, she has no problem getting her points across on her debut solo album, The Glamorous Life. Produced by Prince, this is one of the best albums that came out of the Purple One's Minneapolis funk-rock empire in the 1980s. The hit title song is a classic, and the same goes for the quirky, new wave-ish "Oliver's House," the Latin-tinged "The Belle of St. Mark," and the funky instrumental "Shortberry Strawcake." Although Prince's stamp is all over this LP, Escovedo did most of the writing herself. The Glamorous Life isn't the only excellent album that Escovedo provided in the 1980s, but it's definitely the most essential.

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