Underrated?  Teena Marie is underrated as all hell. Pop fans that do remember will know her for 1985’s “Lovergirl”, but the California-bred singer has been a near-constant fixture on the R&B charts for thirty years now.

A protege of Rick James, Marie scored her first wave of hits on the Motown subsidiary Gordy in the late Seventies and early Eighties. Her buttery, emotional vocals created a couple of disco classics (“I Need Your Lovin'”, “Behind the Groove”), some memorable slow jams (“Portuguese Love”), a couple of scintillating duets with her mentor (“Fire & Desire”, “I’m a Sucker for Your Love”), and the funk classic “Square Biz”, which some of you younguns may recognize as the theme from the recent, Whoopi Goldberg-headed revival of “Hollywood Squares”. Leaving Motown for Epic, she ventured further into a Prince-like rock & soul fusion with the albums “Robbery”, “Starchild” and the criminally overlooked “Emerald City” before returning to traditional R&B with the #1 hit “Ooo La La La”. Her success waned a little after that, as she took the late Nineties off to raise a family, but she returned with 2004’s “La Dona”, a Grammy-nominated Gold album and an amazing comeback effort.

Now signed to classic soul label Stax, Marie is back with “Can’t Last a Day”, a song that features Faith Evans, who has been M.I.A. for quite some time now. It’s a smooth soul groove, and a bit of a grower, although I’ll admit that Marie’s vocals at the beginning of the song sound a bit strained. Either way, it’s good to have Lady T back, and I’ve also included a classic of hers for those of you who aren’t hip to her yet. Enjoy and let us know what you think.