Summer Slow Jams XIV

Greetings Summer Slow Jams fans!  Apologies for being away so long.  There are four belated Summer Slow Jams posts coming at you over the next four weeks just as Fall kicks in, the temperature drops and the colors change.  Let's get right down to this week's featured series: Slow Jams - The Timeless Collection on The Right Stuff label, a division of Capitol Records.
This nine disc collection (also available on cassette) was released over the course of ten years, from 1994-2003, as part of the label's Price Busters program.  Each CD originally came in a pink CD tray.  (Both the Price Busters label and pink CD tray can be seen in image above.)
A unique feature of the Timeless Collection discs is an introductory track from Kevin "Slow Jammin" James on each disc.  This James is not the King of Queens actor but a pioneer in the slow jams radio show game, having broadcast his Quiet Storm, The Love Affair and Slow Jams shows for decades at stations across the country.  His deep voice is the perfect accompaniment for slow jams radio but I found his tracks on these CDs, though extremely brief, both unnecessary and disruptive.  The man can unearth deep cuts though he lists his personal favorite slow jams album as Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On.
For his involvement in the Slow Jams CD project, James was listed as Consulting Producer. According to a recently posted video, due to complications from a stomach ailment in 2014, James was clinically deceased before being revived. Since September 2008, James has been on San Diego's Magic 92.5, where his show The Quiet Storm can be heard from 8PM-Midnight weeknights.
Another unique feature of the series, at least for the first two-thirds of it, is the availability of alternate artwork.  Each of the first six volumes can be found with one of two covers: the original artwork as featured on the right, below, or the unifying do-overs that appear on the left, matching the theme of Volumes 7 through 9.  Hands- down, I favor the revised art that runs through the entire series.

Volume 1 kicks off with what else but the official unoffical universal slow jam "Between The Sheets" from The Isley Brothers.  Back in the day before most PCs had CD burners, I was asked to make 60 copies of a couple's Official Wedding CD, a mixtape of their favorite slow jams, that they wanted to give the guests at their wedding.  "Between The Sheets" was on their list twice; first halfway through the mix and then again at the end.  I assumed this was an error and included the song only once, at the end of the mix.  Made a test CD for the bride to approve and the next day she called and said thanks for my time but a family friend would be handling the disc duplication duties.  I got to keep the $50 deposit I asked for up front but I often wonder if I messed up their mix or was money an issue.  On this CD, my favorite track is Rose Royce's "I'm Going Down" as heard on the Car Wash soundtrack.

The Isley Brothers return to kick off Volume 2 - after the Kevin James track that occupies track 1 on each disc of course.  So while eleven tracks are listed on each of the early discs in the series, there are actually only ten songs.  The overall theme for nearly all of these songs is sad and depressing as they are about break-ups and unrequited love with a couple of other woman songs tacked on the end.  Purely on her voice alone, I was drawn to Teena Marie's "Dear Lover."

You know how you hear a song and you know every lyric and sing along almost unconsciously but for the life of you have no memory of ever hearing it before?  The track "A Penny For Your Thoughts" by Tavares on this disc was just such a song for me.  I immediately played it three times in a row.

If this is your first time reading Summer Slow Jams, you may think I am knowledgeable in the slow jams game.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I confess a massive ignorance in the genre and am hearing many of the tracks under review for the very first time.  My criteria for a slow jam is simple: a song has to be happily romantic and it has to make me wanna dance with my lovely wife so close and tight that there is no room for the Holy Spirit between us.  A couple of songs on this disc fit the bill.

Ads included with Slow Jams discs for other Slow Jams discs issued up to that point circa May 1995

Ad from Vibe magazine hyping the two latest releases in the The Timeless collection as well as Kevin James then current The Love Affair radio show circa February 1996

Beginning with Volume 5 in the series, the song count was bumped up to an even dozen for the remainder of The Timeless Collection.  I'm sure that more than a few of this disc's songs are certifiable slow jams but none of them does anything for this guy.  What I do find interesting is the fact that they flipped and cropped the photo on the cover art when they redid it.

As the volume numbers got higher in the series, Kevin James dug deeper and deeper into artists and albums not yet on Spotify.  I count four songs that are M.I.A. on Volume 6 though the eight songs in this playlist are all from heavy hitters like Earth, Wind & Fire, The Isley Brothers and even Shalamar. Unfortunately, none of the songs stand out from one another and I am unimpressed and not dancing with the one I love.

Volume 7, much like the preceding volume, has a few missing deeper cuts from the playlist which tops out at eight songs from the likes of Smokey Robinson, The Stylistics and slow jams masters The Whispers, who I only knew from their more upbeat cuts.  Funkateers Cameo and Brass Construction also appear.  All the songs are new to me and because I am not an O.G. slow jams lover from back in the day, none of them stand out for me either.

This one is just ridiculous - only four of the dozen songs were found on Spotify.  I was familiar with one track though - The Futures with "Love Is Here" can be found on the wonderful comp Conquer The World: The Lost Soul Of Philadelphia International Records. The songs manages to meet both of my slow jams criteria and we danced.  I guess her arms were tired as her hands kept slipping from the small of my back.

The series ends on a high note for me with four favorites of mine on the ninth and final disc.  I have come to love the Brothers Johnson album Light Up The Night primarily for the upbeat numbers but "Treasure" lives up to its name.  Art Of Noise appeared on a previous album here on Summer Slow Jams with "Moments In Love" and though it seems somewhat out of place in the context of the other tracks, I like the song and was pleasantly surprised when it came on this time around.  Minnie Riperton's voice is always welcome and "Reasons" from Earth, Wind & Fire never fails to elicit a warm response.  For me at least, they saved the best for last.

While I cannot recommend the purchase of Slow Jams - The Timeless Collection to anyone but die-hard slow jammers, the kind of people who devote an entire night listening to slow jams on the radio rather than cueing them up on their turntable.  For the rest of us, I am sure there is a solid 80 minute mix CD ready to be excavated from the one hundred songs spread across these nine discs but I have never taken the time to do so.  (Though the label itself released three greatest slow jams albums.)  This series gets credit for being the first series devoted to slow jams but there are better collections to be had and heard..

Only three more Summer Slow Jams to go...

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