Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Smokey Robinson - Time Flies When You're Having Fun - 2009 - Robso Records

I was close to crying tears of joy listening to this album for the first time. I was so disappointed with his "Food For The Soul" album, revelled in his new songs on the 2005 Motown so-called "Definitive Collection" compilation and openly wept to the magnificence of "I Love Your Face" from his 2006 "Timeless Love" album. What I was hoping for has duly arrived and that is a set of new songs - mostly! - back in the style that we really know and love from this GENIUS. No beating about the bush there...he is a genius. If you prefer Smokey's music warm, intimate and set in his classic 1970s, early 80s settings then "Time Flies When You're Having Fun" is definitely the album from this great man for you. Fans of 1975's "A Quiet Storm" will automatically hear many comparisons. Indeed, lovers of "Timeless Love" who appreciated the cosiness of the live band in the recording studio will also enjoy this. Paul Jackson Jr, Ray Parker Jr, David T Walker, Phil Upchurch, Sonny Burke and Luis Conte amongst others pool their musical resources to create music heaven. Smokey invites in the new guard too such as the UK's brilliant Joss Stone as well as the more established Carlos Santana and India.Arie to cause even more of a quiet storm stir.

Every track is a winner. No arguments from me on that. Check the opening song...this is straight back to his "Quiet Storm" period and considering this great man is almost 70, his vocals are seriously and truly better than ever. There is not one iota of vocal deterioration and he is so at home on this wonderful groove. I listen to this Cd more and more and as each time I hear it, the closer it moves to my heart. Musically and lyrically this is amazing, beautiful and so...Smokey Robinson! I can guarantee that you will play "Time Flies" over and over and over again. Beautiful. A surprising inclusion is a very delightful reading of Norah Jones' "Don't Know Why". This interpretation has us wondering why the man himself had not written this himself. It really is in his lyrical style. It's only in hearing him sing this that one realises how he can take another's song and totally inject his own irrefutable musical DNA into it. Joss Stone, who the man has rightly every respect for, joins our hero on the awesome "You're The One For Me". Joss is a real and honest to God soul talent and I hope to hear more greatness from her in the future as I feel her power has NOT yet been best tapped. 70s flavours have marinaded "That Place" and I cannot stop playing this song...these are truly the types of grooves that the great man is best at applying his awesome talents to. The excellence of "Love Bath" takes us back to the early 80s efforts, and the lyrics are typically seductive yet not lewd or crude. Instead of being explicit, Smokey has always been subtle yet very upfront. More of the same here. This is definitely one of the best and most consistent albums of 2009. Here's to more of the same for 2010!

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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