Albums

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R&B - Released September 22, 2017 | Concord Records, Inc. (UMG Account)

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R&B - Released September 22, 2017 | Concord Records, Inc. (UMG Account)

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R&B - Released January 1, 1973 | Stax

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John Gary Williams had been a longtime member of the Stax soul vocal group the Mad Lads before starting a solo career after the group broke up in the early '70s. His self-titled 1973 album is one of the most obscure Stax LPs, in part because it was issued as the company started to cease operations. He wrote five of the eight tracks on the record, producing five of them as well (and co-producing the others). Though not a major effort in the scheme of either early-'70s soul or the Stax catalog, it's a pleasant assortment of sweet soul tracks, with a slightly earthier edge than many recordings in the genre boasted. Most of the songs are upbeat romantic numbers highlighting Williams' smooth, high vocals, inserting covers of songs by the Four Tops, the Spinners, and (more unexpectedly) Bobby Goldsboro. The most impressive cuts, by a long shot, are the ones that steer away from the usual romantic themes to make general social observations. The opener "I See Hope" is a lively, dramatic expression of optimism; the closing "The Whole Damn World Is Going Crazy," in contrast, reflects the pessimism infiltrating much early-'70s soul, the gently percolating grooves and soaring strings offsetting lyrics of confusion at the backstabbing state of the modern world. [The 2010 CD reissue on BGP adds historical liner notes and both sides of the subsequent single "Come What May"/"Just Ain't No Love Without You Here," two midtempo tunes with a similar vibe to those on the album.] ~ Richie Unterberger
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R&B - Released January 1, 1983 | Motown (Capitol)

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Smokey Robinson took back the production reins from George Tobin and reinstated his producing/arranging partnership with Sonny Burke for Touch The Sky. The two took a more rhythmic approach, with Burke contributing drums and synthesizers. R&B listeners responded, notably on the title track (#68 R&B) and "I've Made Love To You A Thousand Times" (#8 R&B), but Robinson was shut out of the Hot 100, and as a result Touch The Sky continued his slide in LP sales, peaking at only #50 on the Pop chart, although it hit #8 R&B. ~ William Ruhlmann
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R&B - Released October 16, 1979 | UNI - MOTOWN

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Rick James's third album in 18 months may have spread the funk a little thin (or saturated the market), since Fire It Up was not as effective as his first two efforts. The usual mix of rock and R&B had some disco added, which dulled the music's edge and made it more formulaic. At the same time, James's single-entendre come ons, notably the album's biggest single, "Love Gun," were beginning to sound less provocative than just smutty. James had all the weapons for success in his arsenal, but he hadn't yet figured out a unified plan of attack, and Fire It Up was a holding action. ~ William Ruhlmann
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R&B - Released April 28, 1970 | UNI - MOTOWN

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R&B - Released August 27, 1967 | UNI - MOTOWN

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R&B - Released May 4, 1966 | UNI - MOTOWN

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R&B - Released November 1, 1961 | UNI - MOTOWN

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R&B - Released January 1, 1982 | Motown (Capitol)

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R&B - Released January 1, 1964 | UNI - MOTOWN

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R&B - Released January 1, 1972 | UNI - MOTOWN

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R&B - Released January 1, 1981 | UNI - MOTOWN

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R&B - Released June 1, 1964 | UNI - MOTOWN

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On this album, Smokey Robinson demonstrated his ability to craft and hone great material for female acts, something he would later repeat with The Marvelettes. Besides the title track, which became Motown's first Top Ten and #1 pop hit, there were other strong tunes, such as "He's the One I Love" and "At Last," that weren't hits but certainly should have been. ~ Ron Wynn
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R&B - Released September 30, 1970 | UNI - MOTOWN

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R&B - Released September 1, 1971 | CAPITOL CATALOG MKT (C92)

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Released early in 1971, a few months after Come Together, their first album for Liberty Records, Workin' Together was the first genuine hit album Ike & Tina had in years; actually, it was their biggest ever, working its way into Billboard's Top 25 and spending 38 weeks on the charts. They never had a bigger hit (the closest was their Blue Thumb release, Outta Season, which peaked at 91), and, in many ways, they didn't make a better album. After all, their classic '60s sides were just that -- sides of a single, not an album. Even though it doesn't boast the sustained vision of such contemporaries as, say, Marvin Gaye and Al Green, Workin' Together feels like a proper album, where many of the buried album tracks are as strong as the singles. Like its predecessor, it relies a bit too much on contemporary covers, which isn't bad when it's the perennial "Proud Mary," since it deftly reinterprets the original, but readings of the Beatles' "Get Back" and "Let It Be," while not bad, are a little bit too pedestrian. Fortunately, they're entirely listenable and they're the only slow moments, outweighed by songs that crackle with style and passion. Nowhere is this truer than on the opening title track, a mid-tempo groover (written by Eki Renrut, Ike's brilliant inverted alias) powered by a soulful chorus and a guitar line that plays like a mutated version of Dylan's "I Want You" riff. Then, there's the terrific Stax/Volt stomper "(Long As I Can) Get You When I Want You," possibly the highlight on the record. Though they cut a couple of classics over the next few years, most notably "Nutbush City Limits," the duo never topped this, possibly the best proper album they ever cut. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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R&B - Released May 22, 1980 | UNI - MOTOWN

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R&B - Released January 1, 1965 | UNI - MOTOWN

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The Four Tops followed their fine debut album with an even more magnificent second effort, The Four Tops' Second Album. They landed their first number one pop and R&B hit with "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)." There was also "Something About You," a great uptempo shouter that seemed a disappointment at number 19 on the pop charts (and number nine on the R&B charts), but didn't lack vocal authority or production genius. The album also contained "It's the Same Old Song," a tidy little number that reached number five on the pop chart and number two on the R&B chart, and had one of the greatest lyrical hooks -- and titles -- ever. ~ Ron Wynn
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R&B - Released January 1, 1971 | UNI - MOTOWN

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R&B - Released May 22, 1979 | UNI - MOTOWN

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R&B in the magazine
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