Terence Trent D’Arby: pop-soul messiah or hemi-demi-semi genius? It’s a complex issue: D’Arby is full of shit a lot of the time, from his chest-beating pronouncements about his incipient superstardom round the time of his debut Introducing the Hard Line to the song on his second album that warned a gay friend not to make a pass at him. At the same time, he somehow manages to produce: That first album he boasted about? It did four million or so worldwide, and deservedly. Both it and its follow-ups are so breathtakingly ambitious and enticingly constructed they make you wonder whether the fact that D’Arby hasn’t yet become a household name is more the public’s loss or his. His latest, TTD’s Vibrator, is yet another tour de force of pop-rock-soul-funk precociousness. Since the record stiffed, D’Arby might take a minute to consider why. My theory is that his self-aggrandizement and production froth gets in the way of pop connection. Nothing here, even the wound-up title track, is as outrageously enjoyable as his last semihit, the flawlessly articulated, guitar-driven paean to oral sex “She Kissed Me,” and too much of this provocatively titled album won’t get anyone aroused: ballads like “We Don’t Have That Much Time Together” fall flat, a couple of the songs have disastrous spoken intros, and no doubt you’ll recoil in horror, as I did, from sonic touches like the chanting mountain men in “Resurrection.” It’s even hard to take him seriously when he does come through: “Supermodel Sandwich” is supercatchy, both you and he can thrill to the raspy Smokey-isms on “Holding On to You,” and ballads like “If You Go Before Me” are instantly memorable. Unless my memory fails, this is D’Arby’s first Chicago concert in five or six years. Sunday, 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Randee St. Nicholas.