July 7th, 2006
Artist: Teena Marie
Year: 2006, 1983
CD#: EK 93817
Teena Marie, whose real name was Christine Marie Brockert, was just another artist in the huge Motown stable of performers waiting in line for a hit record when, after three years of standing in the shadows, she met Rick James and became his protégé. Their first project together was Wild and Peaceful, released by Motown in 1979, which immediately established her as a powerful R&B singer. Teena Marie was anything but typical–she was a white female artist doing funk and R&B so well that everyone assumed she was black. In fact, when Motown released the Wild and Peaceful album, they chose not to put her picture on the jacket so that record buyers wouldn’t know she was white. This “no face on cover” was a practice many record companies also adopted in promoting black artists across racial boundaries.
Robbery, her first release on the Epic label after leaving Motown, is still rooted in the Rick James’ school of funk. If you compare the song “I’m Just a Sucker for Your Love” from Wild and Peaceful to any song on Robbery, you’ll find James’s trademark sound. And even though Teena left Motown she didn’t leave her Motown roots, as demonstrated by the album’s title song. Another track, “Playboy,” is interesting in that it has Teena “rapping” the intro over music similar to that of Barry White or Isaac Hayes, which back in the day was very unusual for a white female artist. Teena Marie has one of the most explosive voices I’ve ever heard and her energy is always at the highest level–she can make you “feel real” with just a sigh. Robbery was written, arranged, and produced by Teena Marie with a whole lot of love and inspiration from our late but very great funk master and friend Rick James.
Posted by Clark D. Whitlow
(Ed. note: Robbery also features AAAMC National Advisory Board member Patrice Rushen on keyboards!)
Review Genre(s): Rhythm & Blues, Soul, Funk