"Time Flies When You're Having Fun" by Smokey Robinson

Smokey Robinson
Time Flies When You're Having Fun

Robso Records
2009

Review

After listening to this album it will become quite evident that the "fun" referenced in the title "Time Flies When You Are Having Fun" is a euphemism for "sex". I tweeted something to that effect on first listen when I said that this album will have an immediate and measurable effect on population growth statistics. Aside from that, it's a new album by Smokey freaking Robinson! For true Soul fans that's reason enough to check it out and for those fans there's something quite good to be found.

I'm not kidding here. Nearly every song on this album is about getting down. As such, there are some choice lyrical moments that range from a bit too obvious ("I'm doing my best to plant the seed so that love can grow" from "Satisfy You" or "That special place deep inside you" from "That Place") to the more subtle ("Father time won't you slow down tonight/mother nature is taking its course." from the opener "Time Flies"). The thing here is that it really is done with a great amount of restraint which is something refreshing compared to what you usually hear on the radio.

"The kids" (whomever they might be) will probably hate this one. That's because it isn't really trying to sound like a new Soul record. It's trying to stay true from where it came. I think that's a good thing. If Raphael Saddiq was making something new that was influenced by classic Soul, this is more a continuation of classic Soul music. Lots of slow smoothed heavy on the vibe and with real-live instrumentation songs is what this is about. I always say that great performances can sometimes overcome the lyrics, and here you have one of the greatest singers of all-time showing such amazing talent that I'm going to give the dirty-ish (and sometimes a bit too simplistic as evidenced by "Girlfriend" with it's chorus of "You are my girlfriend/you are my lady/you are my woman/you are my baby") lyrics a pass.

My other minor gripe about the album is the cover of "Don't Know Why". To be honest, it's a solid song but I'm not sure it needed another remake especially since the original songs here are so good. The Jessie Harris song as presented here doesn't really add anything to what Norah Jones did to it. Now on to the good stuff...

"Time Flies" is the song from where the album gets its title from and it's a good way to get reacquainted with Smokey. This song is in full-on baby-making mode with Smokey's smooth voice serving as the hot knife that butters the track. Immediately I said to myself that this song is a great song to slow dance to. The music itself is understated so that Smokey is free to be the focus on the song.

Smokey's duet with Joss Stone, "You're The One For Me" works very well with Joss complimenting Smokey perfectly on this song with a catchy "My-Girl-ish" baseline. Also Carlos Santana's appearance on "Please Don't Take Your Love" is also well appreciated. I couldn't help but chuckle a bit about Smokey's begging in multiple languages that happens on that particular track. It was almost like just having Spanish would have seemed to obvious because you've got Santana on the track so they tried to cover it up by putting other languages in there. Still, this is a hot track with great, understated guitar work by Mr. Carlos Santana (I could have done without the "Carlos/carlos/carlos...san-tanaaaa" introduction from Smokey to the guitar solo though, I actually chuckle out loud when I hear it).

For me the high-point of the album is "One Time". Hot damn! I don't say this about soul songs often enough, but One Time is the shiz. From the first note it hits you like lightning. Such a great combination of music and voice. I love the way Smokey is begging on the track for just one touch. There's some real confidence here and finally, the lyrics hit the right amount of sensuality. When Smokey sings

Told myself I think she needs some loving
I'd like to give her it
Gonna do my best to deliver it
Said I'd like to love you like you like it
Your hearts desire
Love you so right
so you never tire of it


...you can tell he means it and man! That's what I'm talking about. Some deeply senual lyrics without going for something obvious (I'm looking at you Akon).

The other highpoint for me is probably the most experimental sounding song on the album, "Love Bath". Ok, so lyrically we're still in near obvious territory but I really love the tripped out electronic-sounding keyboards and general psychedelic sound to it with the synthesizer.

I have to say that I am impressed that Smokey's still got it in him to deliver such a solid album. As I said before, it is about getting down and it is definitely geared toward us shall we say more learned Soul music fans. But it's a great, great album from one of the best to have ever done it. As Smokey might say, "please, please, please give me more!"

4.000 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. Time Flies (04:59) 5
2. Don't Know Why (03:54) 3
3. Girlfriend (04:25) 4
4. You're the One for Me (feat. Joss Stone) (05:05) 5
5. One Time (04:47) 5
6. Please Don't Take Your Love (feat. Carlos Santana) (04:49) 4
7. That Place (04:53) 3
8. Love Bath (05:32) 5
9. Whatcha Gonna Do (05:19) 3
10. Satisfy You (04:45) 4
11. You're Just My Life (feat. India.Arie) (04:09) 3
12. I Want You Back (04:42) 4