Tonight on a very special Summer Slow Jams, we round up six more stand alone titles from Rhino's Smooth Grooves series. All of the discs were released from 2001-2002 and are presented below in chronological order of release for your perusal.
I have listened to Smooth Grooves Live a couple of times now and I have two problems with it: 1) I would rather listen to the studio versions of the songs because I am more familiar with them and 2) it sounds like there is an audience in the room and that is the last thing I need when I am deploying my spastic moves over the Smooth Grooves. I "cheated" and put a Teddy P medley instead of just one song so the playlist runs over ninety minutes. Picking a favorite song among the live performances was easy for me though - opening track "Reasons" all the way.
Smooth Grooves Steppin' Out is music specifically for steppin', a style of dance that emerged from disco in Chicago in the the Seventies and continues to this day. With tempos ranging from 70 to 100 beats per minute, songs both old and new can be stepped to. The fact that the disc kicks off with one of my all-time favorite Summer cruisin' jams bodes well but then there is the 1988 remix of Phil Collins and his 'In The Air Tonight" which may seem like a misstep but I have been assured otherwise. Before listening to this disc, the only steppin' song I knew was this one.
Nearly all the kings, princes and heirs to the throne are represented across the 12 tracks of Smooth Grooves Ladies' Men. For those of you who have trouble remembering an anniversary, Tony! Toni! Toné! have graciously provided the perfect song to be the alarm when your smart phone reminder goes off while Keith Sweat and Teddy Riley run a classic Bee Gees song title through the new-jackanator to disastrous results. My wife's favorite song on the disc is Barry White's slow-building classic and I have to agree with her on that sweet selection.
Released on the same day as Ladies' Men, Smooth Grooves Soulful Duets adds women's voices to the equation for a more romantic experience for everyone concerned. I used to skip "Fire & Desire" on Street Songs cause I didn't want to hear Rick James like that and now given everything that has happened since, I surely don't want to hear him trying to be Mr. Loverman even if it means missing out on the exquisite vocal stylings of Ms.Teena Marie. While I don't have a favorite song on this disc, any song after track one will do.
Smooth Grooves Cruisin' Classics packs 20 tracks on a single disc (all of the the other discs featured today have but a dozen songs) by using the single versions of most tracks, all but one of which (Aalon) is in the playlist above. So many great songs on here, just hearing them evokes sunny days with the windows down. The powerful one-two punch of the opening songs, both all-time favorites later followed by the psychedelic re-grooving of "Summer Breeze" and the ultimate beautiful day anthem, Bill Withers and his ode to a "Lovely Day".
Any pretense of slow jams is left off the dance floor on Smooth Grooves At The Club. As someone who has been in a nightclub exactly three times in his life, I can only imagine that these post-Disco songs were in the mix by deejays in the early to mid Eighties. Maybe if we're very quite, our resident Eighties clubber will make an appearance in the Comments below and set the record straight for us wallflowers. All the hip-hop heads (and their children) will recognize several songs as sample sources of songs they know and love. And what in the heck is Kraftwerk doing on a disc entitled Smooth Grooves?