ROCKIE ROBBINS: ‘You & Me’ and ‘I Believe In Love’ (Label: Vinyl Masterpiece)

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ROCKIE ROBBINS: 'You & Me' and 'I Believe In Love'

Although he only scraped a minor US chart entry in 1979 with his first 45 – a cover of Earth, Wind & Fire’s ‘Be Ever Wonderful’ taken from his self-titled debut album – Rockie Robbins received a vote of confidence from his record company, A&M, who, unfazed by disappointing sales, put the Minneapolis singer in the studio to record a follow-up LP. A&M’s faith, perseverance and patience in their acquisition paid off when Robins’ sophomore set, ‘You & Me,’ yielded a Top 10 R&B single in the shape of the title track in 1980. A shimmering ballad helmed by legendary Philly arranger, Bobby Martin, it spent 22 weeks in Billboard’s R&B chart peaking at #9. Now, for the first time ever, that very album makes its CD debut thanks to the Dutch reissue label, Vinyl Masterpiece. The hit title song, which has a touch of Bill Withers about it, still sounds great – mellow, understated, and elegantly soulful. And damned catchy too. The rest of the album’s pretty impressive as well, ranging from the strident dancer, ‘Hang Tough,’ to the slow, mournful romantic ballad, ‘After Loving You,’ which has a Philly soul feel (both were released as singles in the States, though couldn’t emulate ‘You & Me’s’ Top 10 status). In a similar mellow mood to the title track is the gentle groover, ‘Girl I’m Gonna Get Ya,’ while the tempo picks up a tad for the moody, mid-tempo ‘Together,’ which is rhythmically characterised by a subtle funk undertow and features silky strings and horns stabs masterfully arranged by maestro Bobby Martin. In fact, there are no dud cuts on ‘You & Me’ – it’s a strong, classy, and extremely cohesive album featuring good songs, great arrangements and some superlative vocal performances from Robbins. On the back of ‘You & Me’s’ success, A&M wasted no time in getting Robbins back into the studio – this time with top drawer producers Skip Scarborough and Jerry Peters – to cut his third album, ‘I Believe In Love’ in 1981, though it wasn’t able to truly capitalise on the singer’s earlier success. It, too, has been remastered and reissued by Vinyl Masterpiece. Back in ’81 it spawned two US R&B chart entries: the jazzy Top 40 opener ‘Time To Think’ and the Top 30 title track, a sentimental, MOR-tinged, romantic ballad. Though the latter song was the set’s biggest hit, it’s also probably the weakest track – at least in the ears of soul fans. The mid-tempo ‘Give Our Love A Chance’ is also quite slushy. The best cuts are arguably ‘For You, For Love,’ a stylish Earth, Wind & Fire-style ballad (the kind that Phillip Bailey sang with the group) and the saxophone-laced ‘I’ll Turn To You.’ Although the arrangements aren’t quite as impressive as Bobby Martin’s on Robbins’ previous opus, it’s still a well-produced long player but that didn’t stop Robbins and A&M going their separate ways afterwards. Although he recorded sporadically after his stint at A&M, Robbins’ work never quite reached the peak of ‘You & Me’ and ‘I Believe In Love.’ Soul collectors should check them out immediately before they disappear again. For more information go to
(CW) 4/5