Sex Cymbal

Sheila E. made her mark drumming behind Prince, but Sex Cymbal, her fourth album, is more fun than anything her old boss has done lately. The ferocious salsa percussion, Spanish-language interludes, wah-wah guitars, and extended drum solo suggest a festive pop- radio update of the Latin hard rock that Santana recorded in the early ’70s. But Santana was never this playful. Sheila deals a double entendre about hoping that love (between her and a man? between her and her fans?) never stops even though she’s on top. The sex doesn’t end there — as always, Sheila really plays it up, oohing and aahing on ”Cry Baby,” then strutting through a sax-appeal remake of Labelle’s bordello-disco classic, ”Lady Marmalade.” Add sassy hip-hop back talk, a song deploring street violence, and a demi-classical psychedelic love ballad called ”Mother Mary” (which could mean Jesus’ mom but more likely means marijuana, as it did in the Beatles’ ”Let It Be”), and you’ve got the makings of what could have been a great album. But the lady still doesn’t have the voice to put over the slow stuff, and for such a funky drummer her grooves come off awfully thin. She’s a little too detached, too preoccupied with showing us how darn eclectic she is — just like (if you think Prince has gotten a little too arty lately) her old boss. B+

Sex Cymbal
  • Music