"EMERALD CITY." Teena Marie. Epic. Count on Teena Marie to avoid the predictable path. Her 1984 hit single "Lovergirl" formally--and finally --introduced this blue-eyed soul singer to a pop audience after years of residence on the urban/black charts. The straight-ahead commerciality of that tune was a bit different for Marie. Most of her sexy, spiritual, spritely and often overwritten work of the past must have been too tough for the typical pop palate to digest.
This album contains no daughter-of-"Lovergirl" cuts, no obvious bids for crossover favor. The first voice you hear in the album's opener, "Emerald," belongs to funky, blissed-out Bootsy Collins on a song that has Marie, a believer in reincarnation, describing herself as having green skin--since she's been all the other colors of the rainbow in her past lives. On paper, that may sound lame. On vinyl, Marie makes it jump.