Monday, 4 January 2010

Rockie Robbins - I Believe In Love - 1981 / 2009 - Vinyl Masterpiece

If you were one of many who wasted their hard earned cash on the recent reissue of this album on Funk Records then this is the copy you really deserve in your collection. I cannot tolerate releases that have been taken from poor quality vinyl and laughingly 'digitally remastered' on a home PC. My ears are very trained and can soon work out what's come from a bonafide master tape or not, and having inserted this Vinyl Masterpiece copy into my CD player with much trepidation and a fated expression, I was more than happy with the quality of what I hear. To be honest with you, the sound quality is flawless and if this has been worked from vinyl then I'll not only eat my hat but yours as well! This was important for me to be as perfect as possible as I rate this as my favourite Rockie Robbins album to date. 1981 was a vintage year in my opinion, and this is one of the definitive releases of that year which made it so profound and special musically. Also, for my money, Rockie Robbins is one of the best yet most underrated soul singers of all time. Everything about this album speaks of class.

From the opening stepper "Time To Think" through to the lush and gorgeously orchestrated "An Act Of Love" the album cannot and does not disappoint. Smooth, silky and achingly soulful, Rockie Robbins pours emotion over every tune and he turns his hand from dancers to ballads effortlessly, switching to the emotive "I Believe In Love" which is a gentle, flowing affair that would certainly have the approval of contemporaries such as Peabo Bryson. His take on the wonderful 1980 Al Jarreau cut "My Old Friend" is simply sublime. An equally powerful song that stands shoulder to shoulder with Jay Graydon's superb production for Al Jarreau. Talking of covers..."For You, For Love"...this Skip Scarbrough arrangement does nothing but send this song into the stratosphere. the version by the Average White Band the previous year was delicious, but this version is THE version for me. The funkier "Look Before You Leap" gives us an edgier side of Mr. Robbins, and "Nothing Like Love" remains a track that never fails to break me into a smile - in the same way as Gary Taylor's "Just What I Had In Mind" does. This, dear folks, is what I call soul supremacy! Add the warm, summery Fender Rhodes from "I'll Turn To You" to the mix and it's no surprise to me that 1981 holds many a happy musical memory. This is an ESSENTIAL purchase.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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