Summer Slow Jams II

A wise man recently pointed out that If I am truly all about the music than shouldn't my writing be all about the music? You make a good point, satanstroll666, I should focus more on the music.   Message received.  Thanks.

Slow Jams The '70s Volume 1
released September 21, 1993
10 songs 56:24

Holy cow!  That's it, this post is over after the first disc.  I cannot believe the lineup on Slow Jams The '70s Volume 1; it is stacked with All-Star MVP Grade-A 100% slow jam standards from top to bottom.  Don't you agree?

Kicking off with the full-length album version of "Always And Forever", one of the undisputed Top 3 Slow Jams of All-Time, is a genius move although I would have put it at the end of the disc cause honestly where do you go from there?  What is gonna follow that?  How about a crazy left turn into a classic country break-up song written by Kris Kristofferson and covered here by one of the kings of the slow jam, Rev. Al Green?  Then a triple shot of Philly soul followed by Major Harris's super-sexy and somewhat impatient slow jam.  All of that followed by a page right of Venus Flytrap's playlist; a four song, twenty-eight minute block of sweet between the sheets music.  In my book, this disc is only one song shy of sheer slow jam perfection and sets the bar very, very high for the rest of the series.  Very curiously, that song does not appear on any of the discs in the Slow Jams or Smooth Grooves series yet it was licensed for the soundtrack CD for Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle and fifty other albums.  Just to get it out of the way, this is my favorite slow jam of all time and the scene from the movie Car Wash in which it was originally featured:

Slow Jams The '70s Volume 2
released February 22, 1994
11 songs 46:20

Several acts carry over from Volume 1 and a few new ones are introduced on Volume 2, including a couple of soulful ladies.  The album kicks off with the sad sounds of "Sideshow" by Blue Magic:

Next up an early Commodores slow jam before Lionel Richie perfected his formula a couple of years later.  Teddy Pendergrass returns from the previous disc to sing the first of his two songs, this one with the group he started with before going solo, doing one of their signature stone cold jams.  Ladies and Gentlemen, here are Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes with "If You Don't Know Me By Now":

Songs from Al Green, The Manhattans and The O'Jays follow before the Chi-Lites return from Volume 1 with the lovelorn "Have You Seen Her?"  Dorothy Moore is next up with her similar sad lament "Misty Blue" and then Teddy P. returns.  On Volume 1, he wanted his lady to "Close The Door" - this time around, he wants her to "Turn Off The Lights" and do a few more things.  The gorgeous Phyllis Hyman pleads with her man to stay on the next track before the album closes out with The Delfonics asking "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)"

Given the incredibly high benchmark set by Volume 1, Volume 2 still holds its own and maintains a proper slow jams vibe throughout the disc with a wide variety of voices even if more than a few songs veer towards the sad reality of loneliness.

Slow Jams The '70s Volume 3
released July 12, 1994
10 songs 45:24

Volume 3 definitely equals the quality slow jams that are found on Volume 2, including two of the premiere break-up songs in slow jams history.  Teddy Pendergrass and The O'Jays are the only acts to repeat from both of the previous discs in the series and Sylvia alone represents the female persuasion this time around.  The disc kicks off with another king of the slow jam, Mr. Barry White:

A typical Teddy track follows the Maestro - this time he wants his lady to "Come Go With Me" - and is in turn followed by the breathy "Pillow Talk" of Sylvia, a sensual and somewhat uptempo slow jam:

The mighty Manhattans are up next with the first of those two break-up songs I mentioned above: "Kiss And Say Goodbye".   I don't know about you but none of my break-ups ever went that smooth - there was always some punching, slapping or kicking in my general direction.  The blow of the break-up is softened considerably by the next song by The Stylistics.  Peabo Bryson keeps things going with "Feel The Fire" before Tower Of Power brings that second break-up song, "So Very Hard To Go":

Is Earth, Wind & Fire's "After The Love Has Gone" a break-up song?  Or is it a post-break-up song?  It's a helluva slow jam, whatever else you want to call it.  Volume 3 closes with a song each from a couple of legendary Philly Soul groups, The Spinners and The O'Jays.

Slow Jams The '70s Volume 4
released May 30, 1995
10 songs 49:48

Though every effort is made to ensure consistency between the original CD and my Spotify re-creation, sometimes I take liberties and include my favorite version rather than the single or album version or whatever version is on the CD.  I most definitely did this on the playlist for Volume 4 by substituting the original long version of "Three Times A Lady" instead of the shorter, single version.  The disc starts off with Billy Paul and his soulful, cheating confession "Me and Mrs. Jones", a kind of prequel to the previous discs's "Kiss And Say Goodbye" though I don't believe the couple in the latter song were being unfaithful.

The aforementioned Commodores song comes next and then Teddy continues his appearance streak, this time out with Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes before Bloodstone comes in on a  "Natural High".  Speaking of highs, Minnie Riperton hits some incredibly high notes on the next tune, the hauntingly beautiful slow jam "Lovin' You":

The next song, "Love Jones", was recorded by a group of mostly high school students who called themselves Brighter Side Of Darkness.  The lyrics kind of give it away if the 12 year old voice on the chorus doesn't.  The Tavares brothers and Enchantment come next in the line-up before Al Green returns with yet another devastating cover version.  This time around it's the Bee Gees' "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart".  Finishing the album up is Natalie Cole's joyous "I've Got Love On My Mind":

Overall, I'd have to say Volume 4 is the weakest of the lot so far but is not without it's high points.  As strong as the first three volumes of Slow Jams The '70s are, we are still talking degrees of greatness.  What sayeth you?

Slow Jams The '70s Volume 5
released February 11, 1997
12 songs 1:03:28

Slow Jams The '70s Volume 5 was released nearly two years after the previous volume.  By that time, Rhino's Smooth Grooves had come out and incorporated the slow jams of the Seventies into their main series, The Sensual Collection rather than giving the decade its own series like they had done with The Sixties.  Consequently, the pickings for this volume are slim, instant recognition wise, as I knew four of the twelve songs. Further complicating our purpose here today, three of the songs from the album are not yet in Spotify's library:
Rufus and "Smokin' Room" quietly gets things going and Minnie Riperton follows with "Inside My Love". Natalie Cole returns for an encore with "La Costa" before Maze featuring Frankie Beverly come in and set the stage for Dionne Warwick's "Déjà Vu". 

The uneven, rather vibeless tracklisting continues with songs by Peabo Bryson and Rockie Robbins and then Earth, Wind & Fire return with "All About Love".  My favorite track on the album is up next - Deniece Williams and the slow-burning "If You Don't Believe".  To close out the album, the Leroy Hutson and D.J. Rogers songs sandwich a lovely Donny Hathaway track: "You Were Meant For Me".  Volume 5 makes Volume 4 look like Volume 1 if you catch my drift. This album is only recommended for the hard-core slow jams completest.

Slow Jams The '80s Volume 1
released February 11, 1997
12 songs 56:48

For me, the golden era of slow jams was the Seventies and the Eighties version of the slow jam, as collected on Slow Jams The '80s Volume 1, really doesn't do anything for me.  Maybe its the voices, the instrumentation or the more direct lyrics.  The lovely Phyllis Hyman is the only survivor from the '70s series to make the '80s series which lasted all of one disc.  Overall, I'd have to rate this disc about the same as Volume 5 of the '70s.  There were some decent slow jams in the Eighties I am sure but none of these are them.

You've read my opinions of these six discs - please tell me what you think about them in the Comments below.  Was I too harsh on the last two discs?  Was I too generous in my praise of the first disc or could it really be the greatest slow jams album of all-time in the ten song single disc category? 

(in case you missed it and are trying to collect all 18!)


  1. Sweet Johnnie Wilder, Jr.! You were not too generous in your praise of that first disc. I would say this post includes at least 7 of my top ten slow jams, including Always and Forever, the best slow jam of all time.

    1. Sounds like someone is working on a Top 10 Slow Jams of All-Time List. Can't wait to see and hear that.

      You clicked on the "Always And Forever" link after the video, right?

  2. Not really too harsh on disks 5 and 6. In all fairness, there was not a lot that crossed over from them - thus only the true hardcore slow-jam fans would know most of them. By that point in the early 80's, a lot more station segregation was occurring so you did not hear as much of these songs unless you caught a "quiet storm" Saturday night show on a urban FM channel.

    1. Please do not get me started on the segregation of radio.

      As I have confessed to a few poeple, I am not a huge slow jams fan. I know people that only listen to slow jams. I like a few dozen songs a whole lot and a nother few dozen a little bit but the rest of it has no effect on me at all. When slow jams began being marketed as quiet storm in the early to mid '80s, they lost me for the most part.