If Tom Browne had stuck with jazz, he might have gone far as a straight-ahead trumpeter in the Clifford Brown/Freddie Hubbard/Lee Morgan tradition. Instead, he made vocal-oriented R&B/funk his main focus, and his Arista albums of the late '70s and early '80s should be judged by R&B standards instead of jazz standards. Rockin' Radio, Browne's fourth album, has nothing to do with straight-ahead jazz. Browne provides the occasional pop-jazz instrumental (including the Chuck Mangione-ish "Angeline" and an introspective version of the Roberta Flack hit "Feel Like Making Love"), but funk and urban contemporary dominate the LP. When Rockin' Radio came out in 1983, R&B was becoming increasingly high-tech -- and much of the material reflects that. Tunes like "Turn It Up (Come on Y'all)," "Crusin'," and the hit title song make it clear that Browne was well-aware of the electro-funk sounds that were big in 1983; the influence of Herbie Hancock's "Rockit" and the System's hits is hard to miss. However, Browne also covers his quiet storm bases -- not only on the occasional instrumental, but also on "Brighter Tomorrow" (which features vocalist Carol Woods). Although not quite as strong as 1980's Love Approach or 1981's Magic, Rockin' Radio is an enjoyable record that Browne's hardcore fans will appreciate.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson