Summer Slow Jams I

(Since this post was written, two of the featured artists have passed: Percy Sledge and Ben E. King. Today's post and the entire Summer Slow Jams series is dedicated to their wonderful voices and the soulful songs they leave behind.)

Hello and welcome to Summer Slow Jams, where each Sunday from now through the end of August, I'll run through a few discs from several different series and labels that specialize in those romantic soul ballads known as slow jams.  Make no mistake, I am no slow jams expert but I know what I like and apparently I like a lot of what are considered to be classic slow jams.  And I love slow jamming cheek to cheek and body to body with MRS. HERC.  Play the Spotify playlist, grab that someone special, hold them tight and see where the music takes you.
September 1993
11 songs 38:17

February 1994
12 songs 35:25

May 1995
11 songs 32:29

May 1995
10 songs 26:27

Our first stop is the four volumes that comprise Slow Jams (The) '60s from The Right Stuff, the first label to issue a series of slow jams themed discs beginning with Volume One of The '60s in 1993.   The label managed to license and release a total of seven Slow Jams compilations ('60s Vols. 1-2, '70s Vols. 1-3 and the first two volumes in what would become their signature Timeless collection) before Rhino entered the ring with their own Smooth Grooves series just in time for Valentines Day 1995.  Both series have their strengths and weaknesses and I'll be covering all sixty-five (!!) volumes between both series along with discs from other series as we progress through Summer Slow Jams.  The artwork on the Slow Jams '60s discs (left above) was apparently introduced in late 1995 or early 1996 after the initial run of the series, pictured on the right and in this ad below from the disc booklet.  Or maybe I have it backwards.
The tracklist for each volume remained the same through the transformation however and each volume is filled (well, as much as a 26-38 minute CD can be called filled) with classic slow ballads, tried and tested over the past six decades on dance floors, sofas and backseats.  It is no surprise that many of these songs were chosen to be on a collection of music I recently dubbed for my folks and the upcoming 50th Reunion of the Class of 1965.  (Go Rattlers!)  Motown, Atlantic, Stax and many other labels both big and small are well represented here.  Do I have a favorite among the four discs?  No, no I don't, they are all rather equally balanced between songs I love and songs I like with maybe just two or three out of the forty-four songs total I'd consider skipping or leaving off the playlist.  The one thought I did have while listening to the playlist below was how many of the songs have been covered and covered well since their original release.  If I'm not mistaken, Linda Ronstadt could populate a slow jams EP with her covers alone of these songs.

January 1997
16 songs 44:06

January 1997
16 songs 46:42

January 1997
16 songs 53:43

Demonstrating both their wide-ranging licensing prowess and packaging superiority, Rhino released their three Sixties slow jam type discs all at once in January 1997.  Each sixteen track disc features a portion of the decade: Volume 1 covers the Early '60s, Volume 2 has the Mid-'60s and Volume 3 finishes things up with the Late '60s.  Appropriately dressed model couples adorn the cover artwork of each volume.  Though each disc features a few of the songs that were previously featured on the Slow Jams series, my ears tell me Rhino did a better job securing master tapes or at least remastering the ones they were given for the project.  As far as the music goes (and that is really all that matters to me), the Rhino Sixties gets the nod over Slow Jams because of one song the former collection includes: "I Forgot To Be Your Lover" by William Bell, a number 10 R&B sleeper from 1968 on the legendary Stax label.  The song was both rocked and churched up by Billy Idol when he covered it as the hard-driving "To Be A Lover" in 1986 and took it all the way up to number 6 on the Hot 100.  (Bell's original had stalled at number 45 on the chart eighteen years prior.)

Join us next Sunday for some more Summer Slow Jams

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