Elicit 1997 … with ‘Release Some Tension’ by SWV

This week in 1997, SWV released their 3rd LP Release Some Tension.

With the success of their debut album It’s About Time, SVW had established themselves as one of the defining R&B girl groups of the 90s scoring some big hits on the Pop and R&B charts, such as “Weak” and the Michael Jackson sampling “Right Here/Human Nature.” Their 2nd album, New Beginning, continued the streak of success, introducing The Neptunes to the music scene with their #1 R&B hit “You’re The One.”

Release Some Tension was introduced by “Can We,” a song that had been included in the soundtrack to the movie Booty Call, co-produced by and featuring Missy Elliott. The slick and sexy song, bearing the signature Timbaland/Missy sound, was a good preview of the album’s more Urban contemporary vision. The LP leaves behind the captivating melodies of their previous work to feature a more production-centered sound where the harder beats and basslines provide the catchiness to the songs.

Eight of the twelve tracks also include Rap verses that testify the growing influence of Hip-Hop into the music scene at the time of its release. So we find guest stars such as Puff Daddy, Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown, Lil Cease, E-40, Missy Elliott on the aforementioned track and Snoop Dogg on the album closer “Gettin’ Funky.” That said, the songs are still embellished by Coko, Taj and Lelee’s superb harmonies, precise runs and layered vocals

Perhaps the change in sound influenced the public’s perception of the album, which was met with not much enthusiasm, receiving just a Gold certification from the RIAA for shipments of 500,000 copies to retailers.

The singles released were also not as successful as the ones from their previous albums: “Someone” barely reached the top 20 of the Billboard charts despite being produced by and featuring Puff Daddy, who was at the heighth of his popularity in 1997. Only the soulful ballad “Rain,” produced by their longtime collaborator Brian Alexander Morgan, gave the group a top 10 R&B hit and reminded the public of their classic work with its sweet melody and romantic theme.

Release Some Tension was also the penultimate album SWV recorded together, before announcing their disbandment in 1998 to pursue solo careers. The same year, they released a Christmas album and then embarked on their solo projects only to reunite in 2005 to work on a new album, I Missed Us, which was finally released in 2012.

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