Robert Cray

Smoking Gun

Composed by D. Amy / Richard Cousins / Robert Cray

Song Review by

When singer/songwriter/guitarist Robert Cray began to get widespread attention, he didn't fit the mold of a stereotypical blues artist. He was young, trim, and didn't seem to carry the world-weary, almost down-and-out aura that so many of the genre's performers possess. Cray had a wide range of musical idols: Sam Cooke, O.V. Wright, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Howlin' Wolf, and Ray Charles. Otis Redding would have to be added to that list, because Cray used the Memphis Horns (heard on Redding's records) on several of his sides. On his first major-label release, Strong Pretender, Cray's smooth vocals and an arresting, up-tempo groove enliven the otherwise depressing infidelity theme of the LP's first single, "Smoking Gun." Written by Cray, co-producer Bruce Bromberg, and band bassist Richard Cousins, the song ushered in the contemporary blues era with its respectful nod to the blues tradition while imparting the genre with an underlying airiness. Produced by Dennis Walker and Bromberg, Strong Pretender went platinum, earned Cray his second Grammy, and "Smoking Gun" peaked at number 22 pop in early 1987.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Strong Persuader 1986 Mercury / Def Jam / Island / Island/Def Jam 4:07
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark [Single] 1988 Mercury 4:04
Heavy Picks: The Robert Cray Collection 1999 Mercury / Def Jam / Island 4:07
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Robert Cray 2002 Mercury / Island Mercury / Mercury/Universal 4:09
Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: A Musical Journey 2003
Original Soundtrack
Hip-O / Universal Strategic Marketing 3:59
Live from Across the Pond 2006 New West
The Definitive Collection 2007 Hip-O / Universal 4:06
Cookin' in Mobile 2010 Welk 7:15
4 Nights of 40 Years Live [Video] 2015 Provogue Music Productions
blue highlight denotes editor's pick