Defining a sound...
MCB2 | Orange, CA | 01/21/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"...just like he did at the beginning of Motown. Now here he his, just like Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, going beyond the pop success for a new sound, new direction, new motivations. Marvin & Stevie went their way; and "Quiet Storm" was Smokey's way.
His way was smoother, more gentler, never one to ruffle feathers like Marvin or Stevie did with their songs. That's why Smokey is the genius he is; he didn't try to do anyone else's style but his own.
The album is quintessential Smokey...his same songwriting formula he has used for decades. You can imagine that if this were the mid 60s, these tracks would sound something like "Track of My Tears" or "Ooh Baby Baby". The melodies and rhythms simply reflect what the 70s were about, using "non-native" instruments (latin percussions/rhythms), funkier beats and bass lines, and non-standard rhythms and times. Smokey is a master songwriter, always keeping his ear to what's hip, and that what "Baby That's Back Atcha" is; hip, funky, and totally Smokey. "The Agony and the Ecstasy" is old-school Smokey and those from all the 'hoods and barrios include this in their Oldies mixes (how 'bout that opening line? Vintage Smokey hooking you into the song). And the title track itself started a whole new sub-genre of R&B music...can you think of another song that has done that? Nothing more need be said.
He will be considered in the future one of the 20th century's greatest American songwriters, up there with Cole Porter, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, and Bruce Springsteen. This album simply reaffirms what many already know."
Total chill factor
finulanu | Here, there, and everywhere | 12/09/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Well I like classic soul as much as the next guy, and this is a hell of an album. I mean, mostly. Now, if "Happy" wasn't so goddamned long and boring, and if "Wedding Song" wasn't so randomly blah, we'd have 4.5 to five stars our hands, now wouldn't we? But hey, don't overlook the rest of the album, because it's good! My top picks? You've got your melodic, faultless hit "Baby That's Backatcha" (with a flute part that just gets me every time), the title track, which for whatever reason reminds me of "The Rain Song" - couldn't tell you why, but that's the first tune that pops into my head when I hear it (not that the Smokester's ripping off Zep, that would just be weird...); and the infidelity-themed "The Agony and the Ecstasy". All three were major hits, with the title song inspiring the love-it-or-hate-it radio format of the same name. And if those three float your metaphorical boat, you'd be glad to know that "Coincidentally" is in the same style. Very mellow - good chillout album."