‘Reluctant rock god’ Brian Ray is back with a garage-soul cover of the 1987 hit “One Heartbeat”, boasting hot ‘n’ fuzzy guitars, roaring brass and featuring the original man himself: Mr Smokey Robinson!But before we get into the nitty-gritty of “One Heartbeat”, let’s take a brief look over it’s history.

Brian and his writing partner Steve LeGassick originally penned “One Heartbeat” for Smokey Robinson back in 1987, after being told by Smokey’s producer that he already had plenty of his own material for the new project and were instructed not to submit any more songs for consideration.

In spite of this knock, Brian and Steve submitted a demo of “One Heartbeat” – which the producers and Smokey loved – and the rest is history! It became a hit for the singer, having the album named after it and being chosen as the second single.

And it was all down to the bravery and perseverance of the two tenacious songwriters! So if anyone has a right to record and release a version of “One Heartbeat”, it’s most definitely Brian!

While the original is dripping in the classic 80s sound – complete with saxophone solos and synthesizers – Brian’s reinvented version brings the track bang up to date with fuzz toned guitars that melt and meld indistinguishably with the real horn section. The powerfully thumping drums drive “One Heartbeat” neatly along, and while Smokey’s original vocal has a yearning, almost lonesome quality to it, Brian’s strong and clear voice provides a confident, insistent twist with more than a hint of pent-up excitement.

And to add the cherry on top, Smokey Robinson makes a guest appearance dodging, ducking and diving around the track adding magical, soulful interjections in and amongst the crunching guitars, spanking brass and one hell of a fun screeching guitar solo.

Speaking about having him appear, Brian said, “I invited Smokey to join in, to add whatever he felt. Well, he said yes, and I feel honoured beyond words that he came to the studio to offer some of his vocal charms to this new version of his hit record!”

Being the competent and proficient musician that he is, Brian handled guitars, keyboards and vocals, but he was also joined in the studio by Davey Faragher on bass and Erik Eldenius on drums and percussion.

On top of it all the Texacali Horns add a brassy, ballsy shine to “One Heartbeat” with Darrell Leonard on trumpet, Joe Sublett on tenor saxophone, and Tom Peterson on tenor and baritone saxophones. The section is a sweet, subtle nod to early Motown.

And lest we forget the massive talent in the studio’s control room: Joe Zook and Jose Alcantar competently handle the recording process at East Studios and Bad Manors respectively, while Eric Boulanger mastered and polished the whole thing up to a rocking gleam at The Bakery.

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Motown Legend Smokey Robinson Launches a New Line of Wine

“I’m really excited about my wines because it’s a different thing for me. It’s a ‘life surprise’ for me,” Smokey says. “I never thought I’d be involved with something that dealt with alcohol or anything like that. Or that I would find wine that I like [laughs]. But this one I like.”

“It’s funny,” Duane continues. “[Smokey] said that he’s had Cabernet all over the world, he’s had Cabernet with the Queen of England. And he didn’t care for it. ‘But I like this one,’ [Smokey] says to me.”

And what’s not to like? A glass of Smokey Robinson Cabernet Sauvignon hits all of the right notes. It greets you with a strong, spicy bouquet, backed by a flavor as smooth as the vocals in his hit song, “Cruisin’,” without the expected bite of a drier red wine. Made with 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon grapes that are vinted and blended by Enginehouse 25 Wines, the unfiltered wine spends most of its time in oak barrels, giving it a “jammy” taste.

The final product is the surprising result of a meeting between Smokey and Duane, facilitated by Bob Buzzelli, who wanted the part-time Pittsburgher to visit Enginehouse 25 Wines and meet the man behind its popular pours. Most of Duane’s creations feature famous Pittsburgh figures — from Troy Polamalu to Pascal Dupuis to Franco Harris — and with Smokey’s wife, Frances, hailing from the Pittsburgh area and the couple sharing a home outside of the city, the collaboration made perfect sense. Of course, the fact that the Roberto Clemente Museum is also housed in the Lawrenceville locale was a selling point, too. “I am a huge Roberto Clemente fan, so this was all tied in,” says Smokey. “That’s how I met Duane.”

On the day they met, something sparked. “It was the Clemente magic,” Duane concludes. “We were upstairs — me, Smokey, and his wife — and we were going to do a toast. We were originally going to do a white wine, but I said, ‘Hey, we have the red out. Let’s do a toast with it to Roberto Clemente and Smokey Robinson.’ And that’s when [Smokey] said, ‘Wait, woah, what is this?’”

For ten months, the pair worked together on everything from designing the labels — some featuring photos of Smokey taken by Duane, others showcasing snapshots from earlier in his career — and finding the right flavor profile. “When I tasted what I liked, that was it,” Smokey says with a laugh. “If I’m going to endorse it and my name’s going to be on it, I want to be sure I like it.” their own opinion,” Smokey says.

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