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D’Angelo – Brown Sugar (1995)

November 4, 2016


Unbelievable USA logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

USA Artists (so far): Aimee Mann, Marty Robbins, D’angelo


Do you have any blog posts that have been sitting in “Drafts” for ages?

Apparently, this “Draft” was saved in August 2015, back when I was at Album #412 (and also prior to reading this article, I was still using 2 spaces after a period).

I’m not sure why I didn’t publish it then but it was a pleasant surprise to revisit Brown Sugar this week and see that for the most part, the review remains the same.

Thanks for the completed blog post, past self!


[Album  412 482/1001]220px-D'Angelo_-_Brown_Sugar

In the mid-90s, there was a memorable animated ad campaign for Splenda, a sugar substitute.

The ad agency sneakily replaced sugar with splenda in the motown chorus, “sugar splenda pie, honey bunch.”

Surprisingly, a youtube search came up empty, so the description above will have to suffice!


Given the irrefutable evidence about the havoc wreaked by sugar on our teeth, I’m also surprised that sugar substitute lyrics never took off.

Perhaps the substitute names aren’t quite as sexy: would D’Angelo’s Brown Sugar work as well under the name Brown Aspartame?  Or picture James Valentine & Maroon 4 singing “Sugar Cyclamate, yes please.”  Hit single material?

My Prediction: If the sugar substitute Stevia becomes commonplace in the next few years, I expect it to be featured prominently in top 40 lyrics shortly thereafter.  “I need ya, you’re sweet like Stevia” – the songs practically write themselves!




Now if you were expecting Brown Sugar à la Rolling Stones, D’angelo’s title track and album would be far from perfect substitutes.  Different genres, different eras, not really comparable outside the names of the identically titled opening tracks.

While this Brown Sugar wouldn’t fit on Sticky Fingers, to borrow a couple of D’angelo’s song titles, it’s certainly Alright & it goes down Smooth.

Though the album’s groove was momentarily interrupted when I hit the second track on side B.  I was confused, and yet extremely proud of myself, that on my very first listen, I somehow knew all the words already!

By the time it got to the chorus, my confusion cleared up & my self-confidence returned to a healthy level: I eventually realized it was the song Cruisin’.

Turns out, the Huey Lewis (sans News) & Gwyneth Paltrow rendition of Cruisin’ was not an original. Upon a wikipedia search, I’ve since learned D’angelo’s version was also a cover of a Smokey Robinson tune.  Smokey appears to have performed & composed the original version.



So how do the Smokey Robinson original, D’angelo cover, and Huey & Gwyneth cover compare?

For me, I can sense some differences between them but overall, all versions have a sweetness about them and the three seem relatively interchangeable.

Almost as interchangeable as replacing sugar with stevia in food products &/or song lyrics?

We’ll see!

From → 1990s

  1. Not one I knew anything about, so I thank you for this information!

    As for sugar substitutes, I say just use sugar. All of that other crap frightens me.

    • Oh I read an orange juice label recently. On the regular orange juice, ingredients: oranges. On the 50% less calories one, my goodness, the list of frightening substitutes went on and on!

  2. This is a pretty great album. The follow-up even better, I reckon. Incredibly talented chap and, it seems, as troubled as most incredibly talented folks are.

    Two spacing: I use that myself when writing. It’s how I was taught.

    Sugar: all the way!

    • I’ll pass on all those sugar substitutes too!
      I was also taught the double space, apparently it’s more from the typewriter era when all letters were given the same space, regardless of size (e.g. l vs. W would be allocated the same space), therefore making it easier to see the pauses.
      But solid album either way!

      • Who knew, eh? I’ll need to reconsider my writing… or get a typewriter.

      • Apparently Tom Hanks has a huge collection of typewriters – perhaps he could spare one!

      • No harm in asking, eh?

  3. I remember that Splenda commercial! I am also familiar with the Huey and Gwyneth Cruisin’ (best and only good thing about Duets, I recon…)

    • When I couldn’t find it on YouTube, I was starting to wonder – did I fabricate this Splenda memory?? Glad to hear that wasn’t the case Sarca!

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