The infectiously funky groove of Like Sugar is simply impossible to resist. It dropped out of nowhere halfway through last year and announced that Chaka Khan, the Queen of Funk, was back, baby!
Khan hadn't released any music in 12 years. And then, bam! A song so full of joy and swagger that all it needed was a beat, a funky bass line (courtesy of The Fatback Band's funk classic (Are You Ready to Do) The Bus Stop) and some grooving percussion to get your foot tapping and your shoulders shuffling. And, of course, the power and presence of Khan herself.
It was close to a perfect updating of Khan's music. Full of funk, but with a modern flavour. As she sings in its chorus, it really was "so sweet".
The single announced that Khan had a new album, titled Hello Happiness, ready to drop. And then, just as abruptly as she'd arrived, Khan disappeared.
What the hold-up was, I don't know. But now, almost a year since Like Sugar dropped, we can finally welcome Hello Happiness. You certainly can't say it overstays its welcome. The album's a lean seven tracks. Fewer, if you skip the duds.
The opening title track and the following cut, Like a Lady, bop along on satisfyingly squelchy funk bass lines as disco strings swirl and stab around and neon-tinged synths add some extra sizzle
Coupled with Khan's always impressive vocals belting it out with authenticity and authority and you're left thinking that this modern updating of the disco-funk sound is jam hot.
But it soon loses his way. The staccato funk noodling of Don't Cha Know and the sultry Too Hot are, respectively, too forward and too past, while Isn't That Enough is a pale facsimile of Sly and Robbie's classic nightclub-ready reggae sound.
Ladylike closes the album on an acoustic R&B tip and disappointingly sees the record slink out of the party unannounced, a stark contrast to its attention-grabbing arrival.
Artist: Chaka Khan
Album: Hello Happiness
Label: Diary Records
Verdict: A welcome, albeit not entirely triumphant, return for the Queen of Funk