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Album: A Quiet StormReleased: 1975Charted:
This ode to slow, sensuous love inspired a new music genre: the quiet storm. An R&B offshoot focused on baby-making music, many radio stations started running "quiet storm" shows late at night, often on weekends. This Smokey Robinson song was the template, a sultry tune that played well in the background as a soundtrack to more pressing activities.
Popular artists on these shows included Luther Vandross, LTD, Al B. Sure!, Atlantic Starr and Sade. In many cases, the disc jockeys who ran these shows came in just for the occasion, often bringing in their own records (the studio usually smelled funny afterwards). If the hosts of these love jams didn't show up, it could cause chaos, which is played for laughs in an episode of the TV series WKRP in Cincinnati. When their quiet storm DJ Venus Flytrap doesn't show, program director Andy Travis fills in, claiming to be Venus' brother, Apollo Flytrap. The next day, he tries to convince incredulous callers that Apollo is, in fact, black.
Robinson left his group The Miracles in 1972 and took a job as vice president of Motown. He began recording as a solo artist, but found the office work stifling. In 1975, he released his third solo album, and made "Quiet Storm" the title track. The song was a statement. "'Quiet Storm' was my move back into show business," he told Rolling Stone. "I figured I was a quiet singer, and I said to myself, 'I'm gonna change my imagery and my vocal sound and I'm gonna take it by storm - quiet storm!'"
Robinson wrote this song with his older sister, Rose Ella Jones.
The album version of this song runs 7:47, which is about right for songs in the quiet storm format. It was whittled down 3:49 for release as a single, but the long version is the one that typically got played on those late-night radio shows.