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SHEILA E. (Buy CDs by this artist)
Sheila E. in the Glamorous Life (Warner Bros.) 1984
Sheila E. in Romance 1600 (Paisley Park) 1985
Sheila E. (Paisley Park) 1987

Multi-talented Sheila Escovedo — drummer, percussionist, singer, composer, producer, actress (well...) — made quite an entrance under Prince's wing on The Glamorous Life. The frenetic nine-minute title tune, filled with rhythms, hooks and insidious lyrics, is the record's best-known item, but the other five tracks display other equally appealing sides of Ms. E's musical personality. Probably due to his non-involvement in the songwriting, Prince's touch is light, his influence relatively subtle.

One could not easily miss the first album's erotic content, but Romance 1600 is far hornier, with coy titles like "Bedtime Story" and "Toy Box" driving the point home. Otherwise, the album revolves around the overextended "A Love Bizarre." Sheila and Prince (guitar, bass, vocals) stretch this minor tune to over 12 minutes, leaving all but the most mechano-minded drifting off the dance floor and out the door. If you're listening at home, forget it! Luckily, Side Two is tons better — "Yellow" and "Romance 1600" go a long way toward redeeming the excessive mess.

Sheila's overheated libido is still breathing heavy on her eponymous third album, but at least the song titles are more presentable in polite company. A more reserved outing than the first two records, Sheila E. has a slow ballad, Prince-influenced funk-rock workouts, straight rock (where her power drumming drives like a racer) and an Escovedo family affair, the mostly instrumental "Soul Salsa," which features five relatives.

[Ira Robbins]