1993, Music

Symphony or Damn (1993) by Terence Trent D’Arby

Somehow I managed to grown up when D’Arby was releasing music and completely avoid him. We listened to an Oldies station primarily, so we didn’t hear him there. And I swear I never saw any of his videos. (If I did, I didn’t see them enough to remember them.) So all I knew was the name and the pictures, and that obviously wasn’t much to go by.

Whether or not you can imagine my surprise at hearing “Welcome to My Monasteryo” given this context, let me tell you I nearly fell out of my chair. This is not what I was expecting from an R&B artist in 1993.

But that opening track is a bit of a misdirection, and it reminds me of the opening track on a Tank album – I know, weird comparison – where they make themselves sound super interesting, and then spend the rest of their album imitating Motorhead. Because, the thing is, most of the rest of this album isn’t anywhere near as weird as the opening track – there are moments, sure, but that opening made me think I was going to something (“prog R&B”?) and instead I get middling funk rock and idiosyncratic but mostly straight-forward R&B.

D’Arby is clearly talented, and he is idiosyncratic enough to stand out from the crowd. But I’m not sure his melodies are strong enough to make his compelling performances and arrangements stick. And when he does try to “rock,” it sure doesn’t sound authentic to anyone who actually listens to rock music.


  1. “Welcome to My Monasteryo” – 0:31
  2. “She Kissed Me” – 3:39
  3. “Do You Love Me Like You Say?” – 5:30
  4. “Baby, Let Me Share My Love” – 3:56
  5. “Delicate” (featuring Des’ree) – 4:16
  6. “Neon Messiah” – 3:55
  7. “Penelope Please” – 3:07
  8. “Wet Your Lips” – 4:15
  9. “Turn the Page” – 6:07
  10. “Castilian Blue” – 5:15
  11. “Tension Inside The Sweetness/Frankie & Johnny” – 3:29
  12. “Are You Happy?” – 3:54
  13. “Succumb to Me” – 5:14
  14. “I Still Love You” – 2:15
  15. “Seasons” – 5:37
  16. “Let Her Down Easy” – 4:06
  • Terence Trent D’Arby – vocals, acoustic & rhythm guitar, bass, keyboards, clavinet, drums, percussion, drum programming, backing vocals
  • Chester Kamen, Tommy Girvin, Tim Pierce, Aaron McClain – guitar
  • Leland Sklar, Kevin Wyatt, Tim Archibald, Neil Stubenhaus, Will McGregor – bass
  • Curt Bisquera, Harvey Mason – drums
  • Randy Kerber – electric piano
  • Greg Phillinganes – keyboards
  • Emilio Castillo, Brandon Fields, Dino Govoni, Donny McCaslin, Scott Gilman – tenor saxophone
  • Stephen “Doc” Kupka – baritone saxophone
  • Bob Bowlby – alto saxophone
  • Greg Adams, Lee Thornburg, Andy Gravish, Joe Giorgianni – trumpet
  • John Wheller – trombone
  • John Allmark – trumpet, flugelhorn
  • Peter Cirelli – baritone horn
  • Matthew Vaughan – keyboards, programming

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