THE SHEENA WATCH: In last week's column, we wondered why pop starlet Sheena Easton was spending so much time in the sack with "Miami Vice's" Sonny Crockett instead of making a new album for EMI/Manhattan Records. Little did we know--she's not even signed to EMI anymore. Easton is now at MCA Records, which says it expects a new album from her sometime this fall. But here's an intriguing question: What happened to "No Sound But a Heart," the album Easton made for EMI last year, which the company never released? (Or at least didn't release here--it's available in Japan.)
As with most record industry sagas, it all depends on who you ask. MCA sources say EMI didn't like the record and decided to shelve it. Less than three months ago, Variety's Ken Terry reported that Easton's manager, Harriet Wasserman, "wouldn't say whether Easton had recorded a (new) album for EMI," only that it wasn't scheduled for release. Now Wasserman says Easton "negotiated her way off EMI," adding: "EMI didn't push for the release of the album because they knew Sheena didn't want to be on the label anymore--and presumably they wanted to avoid all the difficulties that would emerge from that situation."
Oddly enough, the album was so close to being released that EMI actually sent out review copies--and Calendar assigned critic Connie Johnson to review the record (which included a previously unreleased Prince song, "Eternity"). Johnson's unpublished assessment: "The album wisely emphasizes Easton's elegant, soaring voice rather than production gimmickry. But while Easton does have a fine voice, it's not always an inventive one, as she demonstrates in her routine treatment of 'Wanna Give My Love.' Basically an OK tune, it requires the imaginative little vocal fillips that a Patti LaBelle or Whitney Houston would dream up in order to lift it above the ordinary."
Still, why would EMI give up on an artist who's an obvious TV draw and had four of her past six albums go gold (with 1984's "A Private Heaven" going platinum)? "We had artistic differences, which created an impasse in our professional relationship," said EMI chief executive officer Sal Licata. "It was therefore a natural process from both points of view to part company. We wish her every success."