The genre-hopping sound that made London’s 2011 debut album, Timez Are Weird These Days, such a rewarding listen remains in full bloom on Rose Island, Vol. 1. With tracks spanning hip-hop, synthpop, and R&B, guests include Blood Orange, Sam Sparro, Big Boi, and A$AP Rocky, producers Fred Falke and Mark Ronson, and samples from Marvin Gaye and Sade.
While largely made up of original material, London’s mixtape also makes room for covers of Pharrell’s “Take It Off (Dim The Lights),” Wang Chung’s “Dance Hall Days,” and Sheila E.’s “The Glamorous Life.” As the last two were plucked from one of my favorite years (1984) from my favorite decade of music (the ’80s), both merit a mention.
Twenty-eight years ago last week, Wang Chung peaked at #16 with the original “Dance Hall Days.” For Rose Island, Vol. 1, London basically re-imagines the hit, replacing the verses with new rhymes while keeping the chorus intact. I love that London’s not shy about reveling in the retro, and has no qualms about revisiting a straight-up pop song like “Dance Hall Days.”
When I first heard London’s Lovers Holiday EP (released a few months ahead of Timez Are Weird These Days), I was struck by how much of a Prince influence was present. That London would cover Sheila E.’s “The Glamorous Life,” penned by The Purple One and a #7 hit in October 1984, should come as no surprise (especially when paired with the dapper rapper’s own love of luxury goods).
However, the recording dates back to 2009. Making its official appearance on Rose Island, Vol. 1, ”Glam Life 2.0″ is credited to Chauffeur, a supergroup consisting of London, Aussie pop singer-songwriter Sam Sparro, and producer Mark Ronson. With a man’s touch, their take on “The Glamorous Life” is heaven sent — all the more reason to love London.
Free download of Theophilus London – “Dance Hall Days” (Wang Chung cover) and “Glam Life 2.0″ (Sheila E. cover) via LVRS.