Thursday, September 19, 2013

Teena Marie - Robbery

This week (September 18th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Robbery, the fifth studio album from Teena Marie and her first on the Epic records label. It peaked at number 119 on the US Billboard Album chart and number 13 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

Side one begins with the dance jam title track. “Robbery” plays on the idea of having your heart stolen. I like how Marie does a neat vocal trick to emulate a short burst siren a number of times during the song.

“Playboy” keeps the party going with another funky groove. She continues with the theme of a player who easily ensnares young women with his style and charm.

Things slow down a bit with the beautiful ballad “Shadow Boxing”. It is easy to get caught up in the flow of this picturesque ode to love thanks to Marie’s powerfully controlled vocals. The music climaxes about two-thirds of the way through, followed by a few moments of a jazzy afterglow.

“Midnight Magnet”, the second single, went to number 36 on the US Billboard R&B chart. The album features a six minute version of this tragic tale of infidelity and heartbreak. About two-thirds of the way through, Marie holds an incredible note that sends chills down my spine.

Side two opens with “Fix It”, the story of a woman in emotional turmoil who is looking for some physical connection to compensate. As the first single, it reached number 41 on the US Billboard Dance chart and number 21 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

“Ask Your Momma” reflects upon a relationship between two people of differing skin colors and how people react to their engagement.

Next up is the sweet and soulful “Dear Lover”, a musical “dear John” letter that conveys leftover feelings after a break-up.

“Stop the World” mixes in a little of an island rhythm to it; Marie even adopts a slight reggae lilt to her voice in parts.

The album‘s closer “Casanova Brown” is a piano-based, showstopper ballad with rich string accompaniment. Once again, Marie’s vocal versatility takes center stage.

From what I have read, Robbery is a concept album that reflects upon Teena Marie’s relationship with her former-mentor Rick James with whom she was engaged briefly.

I picked up the album in the spring of 2011 for my digital music library during a major music shopping binge of her music. Most of this one was new to me at the time, but I quickly got into it. Like most of her album, this is one I would strongly recommend to music lovers (you can find it on Spotify to check it out).

For more Teena Marie goodness, check out these reviews:

- For her 1979 debut Wild and Peaceful, click here.

- For 1980’s Irons in the Fire, click here.

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