May 03

Gene Page – Love Starts After Dark (1980/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 37:56 minutes | 784 MB | Genre: R&B, Soul, Disco
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: AcousticSounds |  © Arista Records/Sony Music

Love Starts After Dark is the fourth and final album by Gene Page. It was produced by Billy Page and Gene Page.

Arranger Gene Page’s appealing orchestrations were a hallmark of million-selling hits by Barry White, various Motown acts, Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams, Whitney Houston, Peaches & Herb, Kenny Rogers, the Righteous Brothers, Aretha Franklin, Elton John, the Whispers, Gladys Knight, and a slew of others. Page arranged the bulk of Mathis’ LPs of the ’70s and ’80s, with “Feelings” being among the best. Page also scored TV shows and movies. Born in Los Angeles, Page studied classical music during his youth. Winning a scholarship to the Brooklyn Conservatory, Page moved to New York. His first big break in the recording field was doing the string arrangements for the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” which parked at number one pop for two weeks and hit number three R&B on the Billboard charts in late 1964, early 1965. He also arranged Dobie Gray’s “The In Crowd,” number 11 R&B, and Solomon Burke’s “Got to Get You off My Mind,” number one R&B for three weeks, both early 1965. Page first met Barry White when he and the future “Icon of Love” co-arranged Bob and Earl’s “Harlem Shuffle” for Marc Records, number 44 R&B, late 1963. In the mid-’60s, when White was hired by Bob Keane for his Bronco/Mustang labels, he hired Page to do arrangements. In 1968, Bronco/Mustang folded and White started doing freelance independent production. Though White recorded sides for Larry Marks on BMC, Malcolm Hayes on OKeh, and Brendetta Davis on Liberty, and wrote and produced songs for NBC-TV’s Saturday morning kids show The Banana Splits, they were lean times. Page helped him out by giving him arranging assignments and non-repayable loans. White’s fortunes began to turn for the better after he met the female singing trio of Glodean & Linda James and Diane Taylor at a recording session where they were doing background vocals. After he renamed the trio Love Unlimited, he worked with them for over a year, developing their vocals, writing songs for them, and recording their tracks. Meanwhile, Page’s busy recording career was now being augmented by film and TV work. He scored the soundtrack for Sid & Marty Krofft’s H.R. Pufnstuf, which premiered on NBC-TV’s Saturday morning lineup in September 1969. His brother Billy Page wrote “Some Beautiful,” the first single from Pufnstuf star Jack Wild’s debut album, The Jack Wild Album on Capitol. Page also composed the soundtrack for the 1970 Robert Altman movie Brewster McCloud, released on MGM Records. Billy also produced Gene’s Music From the Original Soundtrack Blacula. Originally issued by RCA Records in the summer of 1972, the soundtrack to the classic horror film starring Shakespearean actor William Marshall and Ketty Lester was one of Gene’s first efforts as a recording artist. The Hues Corporation of “Rock the Boat” fame were featured in the movie and on the LP. It was reissued by Razor & Tie in summer 1998. Larry Nunes, a friend of White’s, took one of the recordings to Russ Regan, who was the head of the Uni label owned by MCA. “Walkin’ in the Rain (With the One I Love),” with White “phoning” in his part, went gold, peaking at number six R&B, number 14 pop on Billboard’s charts in spring 1972. Love Unlimited’s From a Girl’s Point of View became a million-seller. Soon after, Regan left Uni for 20th Century Records. Without Regan, White’s relationship with Uni soured. With his relationship with Uni in chaos and Love Unlimited contract-bound with the label, White decided he needed to work with another act. He wanted to work with a male artist. He made three song demos of himself singing and playing the piano. Nunes heard them and insisted that he re-record and release them as a recording artist. They argued for days before Nunes somehow convinced White to do it, and White signed with 20th Century Records where Regan was president; Page did the arrangements on his early ’70s hits. This decision led to White having a gold- and platinum-laced recording career. White got a contractual release from Uni for Love Unlimited and they joined him at 20th Century. On Love Unlimited’s second 20th Century album In Heat, issued in fall 1974, Gene Page arranged the majestic ballad “I Belong to You,” which went to number one R&B in late 1974. In Heat, Love Unlimited’s most exciting album, featured the same top-notch studio band heard on White’s hits, Page’s and White’s dynamic arrangements, the follow-up single “Share a Little Love in Your Heart” (number 21 R&B, spring 1975), the standout tracks “Move Me No Mountain” and “I Needed Love-You Were There,” a long version of “I Belong to You,” and “Love’s Theme” — with lyrics. White continued to use Page’s talents on his productions for himself, Love Unlimited, and the Love Unlimited Orchestra. Gene Page recorded several albums, with the 1978 Arista LP Close Encounters being the most successful. The title track, a disco cover of the John Williams theme from the 1977 Steven Spielberg/Richard Dreyfuss movie, charted at number 30 R&B in early 1978. In fall 1999, two Barry White best-of sets that feature Page-arranged tracks, All Time Greatest Hits and Greatest Hits Volume 1, were on Billboard’s Top Pop Catalog Albums charts, due in part to White’s appearances on Fox-TV’s Ally McBeal. Gene Page died in his native Los Angeles in 1998. ~ Ed Hogan

Tracklist:
1 Love Starts After Dark 5:32
2 With You In The Night 4:00
3 Put A Little Love In You Lovin’ 5:40
4 Second Time Around 4:50
5 You Are The Meaning Of This Song 3:33
6 Hold On To That Groove 5:54
7 Holywood 4:35
8 I Wanna Dance 3:45

Personnel:
Gene Page – Arranger, Conductor, Keyboards
Charles Fearing, Paul Jackson jr., Emmett North, Ray Parker Jr., Thom Rotella, Tommy Tedesco, Wah Wah Watson – Guitars
Alex Brown, Mercy Clayton, Sylvia Cox, Jackye Gerard, Yvonne Hill, Ray Parker Jr., Francy Pearlman, Pat Powdrill, Dorie Pride, Phyllis St. James, Charmaine Silvers, Sybil Thomas, Carla Vaughn – Singers
Sonny Burke – Keyboards
Jack Ashford, Eddie Brown, Olie Brown, Gary Coleman – Percussion
Darren Carmichael, Kurt McGettrick, Allen Mc Grier, Edward Meyers, John Mitchell, Wayne Preston, Les Thaler, John Thomas – Horns
Todd Cochran, Steve Caplan – Synthesizers
Ed Greene – Drums
Eddie Watkins – Bass

Download:

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May 03

D’Angelo And The Vanguard – Black Messiah (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz | Time – 00:56:01 minutes | 1,16 GB | Genre: R&B, Soul, Jazz Funk
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | © RCA Records

D’Angelo and The Vanguard’s highly anticipated and much buzzed about brand new album, Black Messiah. Nearly 15 years in the making, Black Messiah contains 12 tracks of timeless music with poignant and provocative lyrics that requires repeat listening at maximum volume! On the album, D’Angelo is joined by his band, The Vanguard, alongside Pino Palladino, James Gadson and Questlove on various tracks on the album. All lyrics were written by D’Angelo in addition to Q-Tip and Kendra Foster who both wrote lyrics on several songs.

D’Angelo had this to say about Black Messiah in the album’s forward: “‘Black Messiah’ is a hell of a name for an album. It can be easily misunderstood. Many will think it’s about religion. Some will jump to the conclusion that I’m calling myself a Black Messiah. For me the title is about all of us. It’s about the world. It’s about an idea we can all aspire to. We should all aspire to be a Black Messiah. It’s about people rising up in Ferguson and in Egypt and in Occupy Wall Street and everyplace where a community has had enough and decides to make change happen. It’s not about praising one charismatic leader but celebrating thousands of them. Not every song on this album is politically charged (though many are) but calling this album Black Messiah creates a landscape where these songs can live to the fullest. Black Messiah is not one man. It’s a feeling that, collectively, we are all that leader.”

The one-eighty Questlove promised back in 2012, when the drummer and producer persuaded D’Angelo to perform for the first time in a dozen years, turns out to be closer to a ten. As those who caught later gigs and subsequent uploads could attest, there were no signs that D’Angelo — enigmatic maker of two classics that twisted gospel, soul, funk, and hip-hop with aloof but deep-feeling swagger — was developing his third studio album with production pointers from David Guetta or elocution lessons from Glee’s vocal director. Instead, he’s made another album that invites comparisons to the purposefully sloppy funk of Sly & the Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On. It’s more outward-looking, refined, and bristly than what preceded it, however, and has much in common with releases from retro-progressive peers like Van Hunt and Bilal. D’Angelo retains the rhythmic core that helped him create Voodoo, namely Questlove, bassist Pino Palladino, and trumpeter Roy Hargrove, and adds many players to the mix, including guitarist Jesse Johnson and drummers James Gadson and Chris Dave. Q-Tip contributed to the writing of two songs, but a greater impact is made by Kendra Foster, who co-wrote the same pair, as well as six additional numbers, and can often be heard in the background. The societal ruminations within the fiery judder of “1000 Deaths,” the dreamy churn of “The Charade,” and the falsetto blues of “Till It’s Done,” fueled as much by current planetary ills and race relations as the same ones that prompted the works of D’Angelo’s heroes, strike the deepest. Among the material that concerns spirituality, devotion, lost love, and lust, D’Angelo and company swing, float, and jab to nonstop grimace-inducing effect. On the surface, “Sugah Daddy” seems like an unassuming exercise in fusing black music innovations that span decades, and then, through close listening, the content of D’Angelo’s impish gibberish becomes clear. At the other end, there’s “Another Life,” a wailing, tugging ballad for the ages that sounds like a lost Chicago-Philly hybrid, sitar and all, with a mix that emphasizes the drums. Black Messiah clashes with mainstream R&B trends as much as Voodoo did in 2000. Unsurprisingly, the artist’s label picked this album’s tamest, most traditional segment — the acoustic ballad “Really Love” — as the first song serviced to commercial radio. It’s the one closest to “Untitled (How Does It Feel),” the Voodoo cut that, due to its revealing video, made D’Angelo feel as if his image was getting across more than his music. In the following song, the strutting “Back to the Future (Part I),” D’Angelo gets wistful about a lost love and directly references that chapter: “So if you’re wondering about the shape I’m in/I hope it ain’t my abdomen that you’re referring to.” The mere existence of his third album evinces that, creatively, he’s doing all right. That the album reaffirms the weakest-link status of his singular debut is something else. –Andy Kellman

Tracklist:
1 Ain’t That Easy 4:49
2 1000 Deaths 5:49
3 The Charade 3:20
4 Sugah Daddy 5:02
5 Really Love 5:44
6 Back To the Future (Part I) 5:22
7 Till It’s Done (Tutu) 3:51
8 Prayer 4:32
9 Betray My Heart 5:55
10 The Door 3:08
11 Back To the Future (Part II) 2:24
12 Another Life 5:58

Personnel:
D’Angelo – piano, synthesizers, organ, keyboards, guitar, bass, sitar, background vocals
Spanky Alford, Jesse Johnson, Mark Hammond – guitar
Isaiah Sharkey – sitar, guitar
Pino Palladino – bass
Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson – drums, drum programming
James Gadson, Chris Dave – drums
Kendra Foster, Jermane Holmes, Ahrell Lumzy – background vocals
Roy Hargrove – trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, brass
Alex Budman, Anatoly Rosinsky, Assa Drori, Bill Reichenbach (2), Chuck Berghoffer*, Elizabeth Wilson (3), Maurice Grants – strings, woodwind
Brent Fischer – conductor
Gina – vocals [spoken word]

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Apr 28

Corinne Bailey Rae – The Heart Speaks In Whispers (2016) [Deluxe Edition] FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:15:40 minutes | 1,6 GB | Genre: R&B
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: Pono Music | Artwork: Front cover | © Virgin Records

The Heart Speaks In Whispers is rich in fresh ideas and full of emotional energy which surges through its songs like electricity. Recorded both at her studio in Leeds, and in Los Angeles, the album is co-produced by Corinne with Steve Brown, her collaborator on her critically acclaimed previous album The Sea. The album features a number of notable musicians including Pino Palladino (D Angelo, Erykah Badu, The Who), James Gadson (Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers), Marcus Miller (Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock), Esperanza Spalding and Moses Sumney (best known for his work with Beck).

The gap between The Sea and The Heart Speaks in Whispers, Corinne Bailey Rae’s second and third albums, was over six years in duration. During the wait for full-length number three, Bailey Rae released The Love EP, a brief set of covers that featured a Grammy-winning update of Bob Marley’s “Is This Love.” She married Steve Brown, a keyboardist and producer who had been a factor in all of her releases for Capitol. Bailey Rae also shifted from that label to Virgin and worked on new recordings with a handful of old and new collaborators, including Brown and Steve Chrisanthou, as well as Paris and Amber Strother of the emergent King. The Heart Speaks in Whispers naturally doesn’t pack the heavy emotional weight of The Sea, an album issued after the multi-instrumentalist tragically lost her then-partner Jason Rae. It’s all spirited and lively. At their best, the wide-eyed folk-soul moments tend to evoke a contemporized version of fellow Englishwoman Linda Lewis, even on “Do You Ever Think of Me,” assisted by songwriting demigod Valerie Simpson and, through references to “The Makings of You,” Curtis Mayfield. The more electrified and groove-oriented material is bound to elicit parallels drawn to the likes of early Erykah Badu and, well, King. Each one of the Strother collaborations is stimulating, with lyrics and productions that complement one another. “Been to the Moon” swoops and slides, reflecting Bailey Rae’s alternation between delighted and demanding exclamations. Its dazzling electro-soul gives way to a trumpet, saxophone, and flute coda that works far better than it should. “Horse Print Dress,” more like purple paisley, is ecstatic, private, joyful synth-funk, while the dazed “Green Aphrodisiac” drifts along on a sinewy, unmistakable Marcus Miller bassline. Multiple allusions to working past bitterness and metaphorical storms help cast the album in a rejuvenating light. Despite all the likenesses that can be heard, it all comes out fresh, pieced together and transmitted in a way that no one but Bailey Rae – a remarkable and flexible artist with some very real life experiences – can approximate.

Tracklist:
01 – The Skies Will Break
02 – Hey, I Won’t Break Your Heart
03 – Been To The Moon
04 – Tell Me
05 – Stop Where You Are
06 – Green Aphrodisiac
07 – Horse Print Dress
08 – Do You Ever Think Of Me?
09 – Caramel
10 – Taken By Dreams
11 – Walk On
12 – Night
13 – In The Dark
14 – Ice Cream Colours
15 – High
16 – Push On For The Dawn

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Apr 23

Aretha Franklin – Young, Gifted And Black (1972/2012)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 44:44 minutes | 915 MB | Genre: R&B
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Digital Booklet | © Rhino Atlantic

Chart History/Awards
– Reached #2 on Billboard‘s Top R&B Albums.
– “Day Dreaming” reached #1 on Billboard‘s Top R&B Singles.
– “Brand New Me” reached #1 on Billboard‘s Top R&B Singles.
– GRAMMY®: Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.
– Included on VH1‘s “Greatest Albums of All Time.”

“…an extremely personal, beautiful record…controlled throughout by one sensibility, Miss Franklin’s…” – Rolling Stone

Young, Gifted and Black is Aretha Franklin’s remarkable 1972 Gold-certified work, finding the singer at the height of her artistic powers. For the release, Franklin worked with legendary producers Jerry Wexler, Arif Mardin and Tom Dowd. Young, Gifted and Black is an eclectic collection of covers coupled with Franklin originals. Standouts include Elton John’s “Border Song” and The Beatles’ “The Long and Winding Road.” Franklin’s own compositions “Day Dreaming” and “Rock Steady” reached #1 and #2 on Billboard’s Top R&B Singles. The album is included on VH1’s “Greatest Albums of All Time” and won a GRAMMY® Award for Best Female R&B Performance.

Tracklist
01. Oh Me Oh My (I’m A Fool For You Baby)
02. Daydreaming
03. Rock Steady
04. Young, Gifted And Black
05. All The King’s Horses
06. A Brand New Me
07. April Fools
08. I’ve Been Loving You Too Long
09. First Snow In Kokomo
10. The Long And Winding Road
11. Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)
12. Border Song (Holy Moses)

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Apr 12

Michael Jackson – The Essential Michael Jackson (2005)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 02:37:25 minutes | 3,07 GB | Genre: Pop, R&B
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: Qobuz | Label: Epic/Legacy

There are several Michael Jackson greatest-hits compilations out there, each one its own take on what should be the definitive portrait of the gloved one’s career. The Ultimate Collection, The Essential Collection (different from the one here), and Number Ones have all surfaced in 2003 and 2004, and HIStory a few years prior. Each one of these collections, while commendable in its attempt to thoroughly document Jackson’s accomplishments, has fallen woefully short in one aspect or another. This has finally been rectified with this installment of Sony’s outstanding Essential collection. Starting with his campaign with his brothers in the Jackson 5, this two-disc set tours through every important single and every important fan favorite short of including his duet with Paul McCartney on “Say Say Say” (the Beatle does, however, make an appearance here on “The Girl Is Mine”). From Off the Wall to Dangerous, it’s all here in one concise package, making it the ideal reference point from which exploration into his deeper catalog can begin. While die-hard fans will already have every single song contained herein and may be weary to purchase another greatest-hits compilation short of a greatest-hits compilation including his backing vocals on Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me,” this may be the only one fans and casual listeners will ever have to purchase to get their fill of the King of Pop’s magic. –AllMusic Review by Rob Theakston

Tracklist:
1-01 I Want You Back 2:58
1-02 ABC 2:57
1-03 The Love You Save 3:05
1-04 Got To Be There 3:25
1-05 Rockin’ Robin 2:32
1-06 Ben 2:46
1-07 Blame It On The Boogie 3:30
1-08 Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground) 3:45
1-09 Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough 3:56
1-10 Off The Wall 3:46
1-11 Rock With You 3:23
1-12 She’s Out Of My Life 3:37
1-13 Can You Feel It 3:50
1-14 The Girl Is Mine 3:41
1-15 Billie Jean 4:53
1-16 Beat It 4:18
1-17 Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ 4:17
1-18 Human Nature 3:46
1-19 P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) 3:58
1-20 I Just Can’t Stop Loving You 4:11
1-21 Thriller 5:14

2-01 Bad 4:06
2-02 The Way You Make Me Feel 4:26
2-03 Man In The Mirror 5:19
2-04 Dirty Diana 4:40
2-05 Another Part Of Me 3:46
2-06 Smooth Criminal 4:17
2-07 Leave Me Alone 4:39
2-08 Black Or White 3:21
2-09 Remember The Time 3:59
2.10 In The Closet 4:48
2-11 Who Is It 3:59
2-12 Heal The World 6:25
2-13 You Are Not Alone 4:56
2-14 Will You Be There 3:40
2-15 Earth Song 5:02
2-16 They Don’t Care About Us 4:44
2-17 You Rock My World 5:08

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Apr 12

Pieces of a Dream – In The Moment (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 00:51:10 minutes | 568 MB | Genre: Jazz, Fusion, R&B
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: HDTracks | @ Shanachie Entertainment

In the world of jazz, commodities are fleeting. Styles come and go. Artists at the top of this week’s charts could be history by the end of next month. Words like “staying power” and “longevity” are for anyone or anything that sticks around for more than a couple years.

But then there are those rare few, gifted with the right stuff, who hang in for the long haul – musical collectives that continue to explore and evolve album after album, year after year, decade after decade, eschewing fashion and fad and reaching instead for something much more permanent. This is the story of Pieces of a Dream, a contemporary jazz band that opens the next chapter in a career that spans more than three decades.

The R&B legends are at their creative best with In The Moment, an inspired celebration of their 20th album!

Core and founding members James Lloyd and Curtis Harmon refer to In the Moment as the 20th Pieces of a Dream album. Instead of hosting a guest-filled blowout, they keep it simple with familiar associates, guitarist Rohn Lawrence, saxophonist Tony Watson Jr., and bassist David Dyson. The duo also receive a little assistance from a handful of additional musicians, including Shanachie label stalwart Chris “Big Dog” Davis. An all-instrumental set apart from some talkbox on “New Jazz Swing,” In the Moment features a handful of cuts that should remain in the group’s live repertoire for years. “Steppers ‘D’ Lite” and “TTYL (I’m Driving),” two of the album’s most energized songs, combine live instrumentation and programmed rhythms with as much finesse as anything from their ’80s releases. Dyson’s bass and Lloyd’s piano shine brightest on “For Real,” one of several typically melodic ballads, while Lawrence is showcased throughout “Never Let It End,” where he provides a pair of graceful lines. This is another modest, kicked-back release from the group. –AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman

Tracklist:
1 In The Moment 5:29
2 For Real 4:46
3 Steppers “D” Lite 4:25
4 Misty-Eyed 4:35
5 TTYL (I’m Driving) 5:04
6 People Say 3:40
7 NewJazz Swing 3:40
8 Under The Inflence (Of Pieces) 4:26
9 Never Let It End 5:51
10 Coming Home 5:17
11 There Will Never Be Another You 3:57

Personnel:
James K. Lloyd – keyboards, piano, synthesizer
Curtis Harmon – keyboards, drum programming, percussion
Rohn Lawrence – guitar
Tony Watson Jr. – saxophone
Chris Davis – keyboards
David Dyson – bass, keyboards, drum programming
Robert “Boots” Pickard, Bennie Simms – drum programming

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Apr 12

Roy Ayers Ubiquity – Everybody Loves The Sunshine (1976/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 39:40 minutes | 1,56 GB | Genre: Jazz, R&B
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Front Cover | @ Verve Records

Roy Ayers has a unique claim to fame as attracting a huge number of hip hop, rap, and R&B artists to sample his work. This album’s title track has been used by a long list of celebrity artists, including Mary J. Blige, Common, and Mos Def. The album peaked at #51 on the US Top 200 Billboards.

Roy Ayers’s had long made his shift into R&B/soul by 1976’s Everybody Loves the Sunshine. His recordings of this period can be very hit and miss, and in this particular record, you get both. The title track, “Everybody Loves the Sunshine,” is a quintessential song from the mid-’70s. While it might not have slammed the charts like Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music,” it’s still a revered classic. It evokes that feeling of sweltering concrete in Brooklyn where the only relief is the local fire hydrant. Entirely sung by a choir repeating the same lines throughout, the rhythm section rolls along with a perfectly looped laid-back groove. It moves along lazily, hypnotically, and sluggishly as the sun slows things down to the right speed and “folks get down in the sunshine.” The rest of the album contains Ayers classics such as the burning percussive funk of “It Ain’t AYour Sign It’s Your Mind,” the spacey cosmic soul of “the Third Eye,” the bumping rubbery disco in “People and the World,” and the two horn-scorched closers “Tongue Power,” and “Lonesome Cowboy.” –AllMusic Review by Sam Samuelson

Tracklist:
1. Hey, Uh, What You Say Come On 03:46
2. The Golden Rod 03:06
3. Keep On Walking 03:47
4. You And Me My Love 03:13
5. The Third Eye 06:22
6. It Ain’t Your Sign It’s Your Mind 03:29
7. People And The World 04:49
8. Everybody Loves The Sunshine 04:02
9. Tongue Power 03:03
10. Lonesome Cowboy 04:03

Personnel:
Roy Ayers – Vibraphone, Lead Vocals, Electric Piano, Synthesizer (ARP Odyssey, String Ensemble), Percussion, Backing Vocals
Philip Woo – Piano, Electric Piano, Synthesizer (ARP, String Ensemble)
Chano O’Ferral – Congas, Percussion, Lead Vocals
Ronald “Head” Drayton – Guitar
John “Shaun” Solomon – Electric Bass
Doug Rhodes – Drums
Chicas – Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals

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Apr 05

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – One Dozen Roses (1971/2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 37:38 minutes | 1,57 GB | Genre: R&B, Soul
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Artwork: Front cover | © UNI/Motown

Released in 1971 but unavailable on CD for many years, One Dozen Roses from Smokey Robinson & The Miracles includes the reappearance of the huge hit song The Tears Of A Clown, a multi-million selling number one single in both the US and the UK, inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002. The song also holds the distinction of being the Miracles’ first (and only) number one hit with Smokey Robinson as lead singer.

One of their better latter-period albums. Though the singles (“The Tears of a Clown,” “I Don’t Blame You At All,” the lovely “Satisfaction”) were the focal points of the set, the real gem is “No Wonder Love’s a Wonder,” a haunting, socially conscious ballad where Smokey Robinson speaks the lyrics as the Miracles harmonize in the background. It marked one of the few times Robinson ever engaged in social commentary. –AllMusic Review by John Lowe

Tracklist:
1 When Sundown Comes 3:19
2 No Wonder, Love’s A Wonder 3:17
3 The Tears Of A Clown 2:57
4 Satisfaction 3:22
5 Crazy About The La La La 2:55
6 Cecilia 3:00
7 I Don’t Blame You At All 3:09
8 That Girl 2:50
9 Faces 2:39
10 I Love You Dear 3:46
11 Oh Baby Baby, I Love You 2:27
12 The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game 2:56

Personnel:
William “Smokey” Robinson – lead vocals
Marv Tarplin – guitars
Ronnie White, Bobby Rogers, Warren “Pete” Moore, Claudette Robinson – background vocals
David Van DePitte, Henry Cosby, Jerry Long, Paul Riser, Tom Baird, Wade Marcus – arranger

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Apr 05

Smokey Robinson And The Miracles – Flying High Together (1972/2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 40:00 minutes | 1,70 GB | Genre: R&B, Soul
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: AcousticSounds | Artwork: Front cover | © UNI/Motown

Flying High Together is an album by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles on Motown Records’ Tamla label, released in 1972. It is noted as The Miracles’ last studio album with original lead singer Smokey Robinson, who retired from the act to concentrate on his duties as Vice President of The Motown Record Corporation. The album charted at #46 on the Billboard Pop Album chart. As of 2016, Flying High Together has yet to be issued on CD, but several of its songs have shown up on various Miracles foreign and domestic CD compilations.

The last studio album they recorded together as a group, it was produced by Johnny Bristol, who was by then experiencing career problems of his own. While none of the songs are Robinson originals, the album does contain several cover versions and tunes by Ashford & Simpson and Stevie Wonder. Although it was a cohesive, servicable disc, it lacked the clarity that made their earlier records (with Smokey at the helm) so special. Still, it gave the group their last Top 40 hit with “We’ve Gone Too Far to End It Now,” which also cracked the R&B Top Ten.

Tracklist:
01 – I Can’t Stand To See You Cry
02 – Theme From Love Story
03 – We’ve Come Too Far To End It Now
04 – Flying High Together
05 – With Your Love Came
06 – It Will Be Alright
07 – Oh Girl
08 – You Ain’t Livin’ Till You’re Lovin’
09 – We Had A Love So Strong
10 – Got To Be There
11 – Betcha By Golly Wow

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Apr 05

Smokey Robinson – Where There’s Smoke… (1979/2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 34:58 minutes | 1,29 GB | Genre: R&B, Soul
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Artwork: Front cover | © UNI/Motown

Smokey Robinson’s 1979 solo release Where There’s Smoke…, called his “finest album” by Robert Christgau in The Village Voice, includes his biggest solo single, the top five smash Cruisin’. Robinson also modernizes and updates his own song Get Ready, a huge hit for both the Temptations in the 1960s and Rare Earth in the ’70s.

This album was a considerable return to form, Smokey Robinson’s most commercially successful solo LP up to this point (and highest-charting record in 11 years), entirely due to the single “Cruisin’” (number four pop and R&B), his biggest pop hit since “The Tears of a Clown.” Motown doesn’t seem to have recognized that track’s potency, leading off with the flop “Get Ready” (a disco treatment of the old Temptations hit) before turning to “Cruisin’” as a second single several months after the LP’s release. Where There’s Smoke… then took off and peaked at number 17, more than six months after first appearing. Although the LP is divided into “Smoke” and “Fire” sides, both sides start out with rhythmic songs and gradually slow down to near-ballad speed, with the sensuous “Cruisin’” the final “Fire” track. In retrospect, the album may be uneven and a touch too disco-ish in places, but in 1979-1980, Where’s There’s Smoke… brought Smokey Robinson back into the limelight. –AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann

Tracklist:

Smoke
1 It’s A Good Night 5:44
2 I Love The Nearness Of You 4:29
3 The Hurt’s On You 4:14
4 Ever Had A Dream 3:44

Fire
5 Get Ready 5:44
6 Share It 4:51
7 Cruisin’ 5:52

Personnel:
Alto Saxophone, Flute, Soloist [Flute Solos] – Fred Smith
Arranged By – Reginald “Sonny” Burke
Backing Vocals – Benard Ighner, Charles Wright, Cheryl Cooper, Claudette Robinson, Ivory Davis, James “Alibe” Sledge, Patricia Henley Talbert, Paula Dickerson
Bass – Bernard Reed, Chuck Rainey, Larry Davis, Nathan Watts, Wayne Tweed
Congas, Bongos – Eddie “Bongo” Brown, James “Alibe” Sledge
Drums – Brian Grice, Dennis Davis, James Gadson, Scotty Harris
Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes] – Greg Phillinganes
Guitar – Byron Gregory, Danny Leake, David T. Walker, Marvin Tarplin , Melvin “Wah Wah” Ragin, Michael Sembello, Paul Jackson, Richard Littlefield, Rick Zunigar, Robert White
Horns, Strings – Michael Jacobsen
Keyboards – Lawrence Hanks, Roger Harris, Ronnie Rancifer, Ronnie McNeir, Reginald “Sonny” Burke, Terry Fryer
Tambourine – Ivory Davis, Jack Ashford
Vocals – William “Smokey” Robinson

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