E&J Brandy is America’s most awarded brandy. Celebrating their 40th anniversary, they’ve embarked on a “Generations of Soul” campaign featuring the musical talents of Raphael Saadiq, BJ the Chicago Kid and Lee Fields. We were able to attend their private concert at Mack Sennett Studios on 4/2/15 and Raphael Saadiq gave a performance that embodied what modern soul music is all about.
I’ve got a personal history with Raphael Saadiq’s music, and it goes all the way back to the summer of 1990 with the release of Tony! Toni! Toné!’s album “The Revival”. Tony! Toni! Toné! was originally a trio consisting of Timothy Christian Riley, Dwayne Wiggins and his brother, Charles Ray Wiggins a/k/a Raphael Saadiq.
The summer of 1990 was the summer before my freshman year of high school. It was a time when adolescence and puppy love was rearing its excited head. “The Revival” was a significant part of the soundtrack to my pre-pubescent courtships as carefully crafted mix tapes consistently featured songs like “It Never Rains (In Southern California)”, “Whatever You Want” and “I Care”. In the summer of 1993, Tony! Toni! Toné! gave me even more music to add to the b-side of my mix tapes with songs like “Anniversary” and “(Lay Your Head On My) Pillow”.
Tony! Toni! Toné! released one more album while I was in college, and after that Raphael Saadiq ventured into both solo and group endeavors. The short lived Lucy Pearl spawned the hit “Dance Tonight” and Raphael Saadiq’s solo albums “Instant Vintage”, “Ray Ray”, “The Way I See It” and “Stone Rollin'” were all critically acclaimed and each transcendent in their own right, pushing the boundaries of musical genres while showcasing the artist’s mesmerizing talents.
I’ve seen Raphael Saadiq twice in concert, and both times it was in support of his traditional soul album “The Way I See It”. His performances were amazing, but the setlist of each of the shows I attended consisted mostly of music from that album.
Considering that this concert event was labeled as a presentation of “Generations of Soul”, I hedged my expectations and anticipated that Raphael Saadiq would perform music mostly from his last two albums.
He started his performance with songs from “The Way I See It”, performing one of my favorite cuts from the album early, “Just One Kiss”. That bass line. So dope. He performed “Good Man” from “Stone Rollin'”. Another dope, killer track.
But as soon as he played “Skyy, Can You Feel Me”, from “Instant Vintage”, I had a feeling that this performance would touch on all periods from his career. And I was right.
He sang songs from almost every album he’s ever recorded, and it was a literal parade of greatest hits. The moment that really hit it out of the park for me was when he sang sections of “It Never Rains (In Southern California)” to his adoring fans. The only song I wish I could have heard was “Whatever You Want”, but that would have been asking for a bit much insofar as that was the first single Tony! Toni! Toné! released that did not feature Raphael on lead vocals.
Seriously … if you are lucky enough to get invited to this concert event hosted by E&J Brandy, featuring a performance by Raphael Saadiq, I would urge you to clear your calendar and make time for it. This concert event may be celebrating “Generations of Soul”, but the’ve got a master of the art form performing hits spanning a career of over 20 years. Something like that doesn’t come around very often. It shouldn’t be missed.