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Gary Green

Saturday, May 13, 2006 

....When Terence Trent D'Arby Became Sananda Maitreya

The song I have not been able to stop playing for the last month has been "If You Let Me Stay" by Terence Trent D'Arby, an artist whose brilliant work was often eclipsed (certainly with me when he first hit radio) by his gratingly obscene ego. If you're not familiar, and like what you hear below, make the worthy purchase of his two best albums, Introducing the Hardline... and Symphony or Damn. Here's the backstory:

D'Arby's debut album, Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D'Arby, released in 1987, is his best-known and, in commercial terms, most successful work. The album, which produced such hits as "If You Let Me Stay" "Wishing Well" "Dance Little Sister" and "Sign Your Name" sold over a million copies in the first three days of its release, and its sales currently total over 12 million. The album also earned D'Arby a Grammy Award in March 1988 in the category Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male.

D'Arby's follow-up was the somewhat more experimental and serious Neither Fish Nor Flesh: A Soundtrack of Love, Faith, Hope & Destruction (1989). It gathered generally hostile reviews from the critics, and was not commercially as successful as its predecessor. With a bloated self-important title like that, one can see why.

It took four more years and a move to Los Angeles until his next project, Symphony or Damn (1993) was released. The record touched many of the issues that had been raised also in Neither Fish Nor Flesh, but was musically more straightforward and rocky than its predecessors (best track - "She Kissed Me"). It gathered favourable reviews and gained much airplay in major music stations.

In 1995 D'Arby released Vibrator, which largely followed Symphony or Damn in its musical direction. Also it was well received, but like the previous album, failed to reinstate the artist back to the public status that he had enjoyed at the time of his first release.

During the 1990s the relations between D'Arby and his record label Columbia Records had became strained, eventually leading to his departure in 1996. This was followed by a four-year spell, during which he recorded Terence Trent D'Arby's Solar Return, which was not released. In 2000, he bought the rights to the album, and left the record company.

In 1999, D'Arby was briefly hired by INXS to replace his friend, late vocalist Michael Hutchence, so the band could play at the opening of facilities for the Sydney Olympics.

Meanwhile the artist, still known as Terence Trent D'Arby, had as a result of a series of dreams, adapted to use the name Sananda Maitreya. His name was legally changed to that on October 4, 2001. Many speculate it was less a dream-state revelation and more an attempt to divorce himself from the controversial and trouble-making reputation he had developed under the "TTD" phase of his career.

2001 also saw Maitreya moving back to Europe and Germany, as he resettled in Munich and started his own independent record label, Sananda Records. The year also marked his first album release in six years, as the unreleased Terence Trent D'Arby's Soular Return was revamped into Wildcard. The album, which received a warm critical welcome, was at first available for free through his website, and later gained also a commercial release through a one-album distribution deal with Universal Music.

In 2002 Maitreya moved to Milan, Italy, and began working on his next project, Angels & Vampires - Volume I. Rough demo versions of the songs were initially released through Weedshare, allowing the fans to get a glimpse of the work as it evolved. In July 29, 2005, the fully mastered album was finally released through his webshop utilizing the mp3 format.

In July 2005 Maitreya started working on Angels & Vampires - Volume II, he released chapter after chapter online as soon he finished recording the songs. On April 29, 2006 he released the fully finished and mastered album in his webshop.

For more information, you can join Maitreya's MySpace page, with music available for sampling.

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