A collection of old school slow jams released in the mid-'90s by the always wonderful Rhino Records. Liner notes are exceptional, which is par for the course for Rhino. Songs on this volume are from the years 1971-1986. Man-oh-man, I loves me some slow jams.
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #38
- Float On - The Floaters (1977), #1 R&B for 6 consecutive weeks, #2 Pop: To start off, we're treated to the full 11+ minute album version of this classic. A groove so good that nobody cares that we don't even get vocals until three minutes in and the first verse doesn't start until 6:56. "Aquarius, and my name is Ralph/Now, I like a woman who loves her freedom." Preach on, Ralph. With astrological signs and video dating references, this could only have happened in the late '70s. The shortest 11 minutes I've spent today; over all too soon.
- You Are My Starship - Norman Connors (1976), #4 R&B, #27 Pop: Drummer/producer Connors sure could put together a solid group of musicians for his jazz/R&B albums. With vocals by Michael Henderson and a soprano sax solo by Gary Bartz, this is good, sultry stuff regardless of the title.
- Voyage to Atlantis - The Isley Brothers (1977), #50 R&B: A fair-to-middlin' track almost ruined by the abrasive guitar tone which doesn't seem to fit the song.
- 'Cause I Love You - Lenny Williams (1978): I'm more familiar with Williams' work with Tower Of Power than his solo work, but he brings his fine falsetto to this slow jam. The song has a bumpy start, but gets cookin' about 2 minutes in. Worth the wait. Bonus points for the brokenhearted spoken word interlude.
- It's Been a Long Time - The New Birth (1973), #9 R&B, #66 Pop: This was off my radar in '73, but I'm not sure I'd remember it anyway. I guess what I'm saying is that this song is forgettable.
- Hey! Love - The Delfonics (1971), #17 R&B, #52 Pop: Previously appeared on La-La Means I Love You: The Definitive Collection. Here's what I wrote then: " While their minor hit Hey! Love is a favorite of the group's hardcore fans, it doesn't do anything for me." Still feel the same way.
- Stop To Start - Blue Magic (1973), #14 R&B, #74 Pop: This, too, was off my radar in '73 and that's a tragedy. Great writing with even better vocals. Got it now, though - better late than never.
- Break Up To Make Up - The Stylistics (1972), #5 R&B, #5 Pop: More classic Philly soul. A smooth waltz with a chorus so good it won't leave your mind the rest of the day. Great sequencing idea to have this follow that Blue Magic tune.
- Willing To Learn - Tower of Power (1975), #77 R&B: Standard ToP with the horns being featured. Lenny Williams, making his second appearance on the disc, brings another great performance. The screaming trumpets keep it from being very romantic, but I love the chord progressions around the chorus. Bonus points for the classic breakdown at 3:15.
- Something He Can Feel - Aretha Franklin (1976), #1 R&B for 4 consecutive weeks, #28 Pop: Queen of Soul. 'Nuff said.
- Special Lady - Ray, Goodman & Brown (1979), #1 R&B for 1 week, #5 Pop: My favorite song on the CD. I didn't buy many 45 singles in my youth, but I bought this one while surviving 8th grade. I remember liking it for two reasons: the a capella intro and the fact that it sounded like it could have been released 6 or 7 years earlier - I was already nostalgic for my misspent youth at age 13!
- You Don't Have To Cry - René & Angela (1986), #2 R&B, #75 Pop: I don't remember this song or group, but this song doesn't fit here. Not that it's gawd-awful (I'd give the song a 5 on a typical 1-10 scale), but it illustrates how much the R&B genre changed in the mid-'80s. Like the vocals, hate the sterile rhythm tracks.
Previously revisited for the blog: