Various Artists

Smooth Grooves: A Sensual Collection, Vols. 1-9

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Rhino's Smooth Grooves: A Sensual Collection, Vols. 1-9 is an excellent overview of late-'70s and early-'80s urban R&B ballads; in other words, it features the biggest hits and best-known quiet storm songs. Each disc contains 12 tracks, some presented in their 12" mixes never before available on CD. But the primary strength of Smooth Grooves is that it proves there were many classic soul songs released during this often-overlooked era. While there are a few tediously bland cuts on nearly every volume, there are more keepers than throwaways, including such classics as "Shining Star," "Sexual Healing," "Float On," and "Something He Can Feel." The curious should start with the first volume, which gives an accurate idea of what the series is about, but any quiet storm fan will find every volume worth acquiring.