Number 565 - Smokey Robinson
"Being With You"
As you can see to my left is Jonah Lomu, if your British, run now, especially if your surname is Splatt, i mean Platt. Yes its the World Cup (see MM Vol 1) and New Zealand is expected to win. So its nice that there are other writers now, takes the pressure off for sure. Poor ole Tez, lets hang our heads for a moment just for her, she is Australian & we all know it will be luck for them just to beat England. So sad. Not. Rugby World Cup is apparently the third most watched sporting event in the world, just falling short to Caber Tossing in Antarctica & Cross country needle stitching in Turkey! Go the ALL BLACKS! (By the way that's the name of out team. Plus we couldn't afford any honkies to play)
Robinson first crossed paths with Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr., in the late '50s in Detroit. In retrospect, this may have been the most important meeting in both men's lives. Robinson needed a mentor and an outlet for his budding talents as a singer and songwriter; the ambitious Gordy needed someone with multi-faceted musical vision. Gordy encouraged and polished Robinson's songwriting in particular in the early days, in which the Miracles were one of many acts bridging the doo wop and early soul eras. Before solidifying their relationship with the embryonic Motown operation, the Miracles issued a few singles on the End and Chess labels, the most successful of which was "Got a Job." There was no national action for the Miracles until "Shop Around" in late 1960. Gordy withdrew the original single in favor of a faster, more fully produced version of the song; it made number two, doing much not only to establish the Miracles, but to establish the Motown label itself. The song also heralded many of the important elements of the Motown sound, with its gospel-ish interplay between lead and backup vocals, its rhythmic groove, and its blend of R&B and pop.
While Robinson is most often thought of as a romantic balladeer, the Miracles were also capable of grinding out some excellent uptempo party tunes, particularly in their early days. "Mickey's Monkey" (which the group gave an athletically electrifying performance of in the 1964 T.A.M.I. Show movie), a 1963 Top Ten hit, is the most famous of these; there was also "Going to a Go-Go" and smaller hits like "I Gotta Dance to Keep from Crying." The 1962 Top Ten hit "You've Really Got a Hold on Me," however, was the key cut in forming Robinson's romantic persona, with its pleading, soaring vocals, exquisite melody, and carefully crafted lyrics. Bob Dylan was impressed enough by Robinson's facility for imaginative wordplay to dub him "America's greatest living poet" (a phrase which has possibly become the most quoted example of one rock giant praising another).
Surveying Robinson's achievements during the 1960s, one wonders if the man ever slept. While the Miracles were never Motown's biggest act at any given time, they were one of its very most consistent, entering the Top 40 25 times over the course of the decade. "I Second That Emotion," "The Love I Saw in You Was Just a Mirage," "The Tracks of My Tears," "Ooo Baby Baby," and "Baby, Baby Don't Cry" were some of their biggest singles, and usually represented Motown at its most sophisticated and urbane. Robinson also was extremely active at Motown as a songwriter and producer for other acts. The number one singles "My Guy" (Mary Wells) and "My Girl" (Temptations) were each Robinson songs and productions (the latter with fellow Miracle Ronnie White), and Robinson also did some excellent work with the Marvelettes and Marvin Gaye. He also toured with the Miracles, and started a family with the Miracles' female singer, Claudette Rogers, whom he married in 1964. Rogers stopped touring with the group in the mid-'60s, although she continued to sing on their records.
Starting in 1967, the billing on Miracles releases was changed to Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, presaging Robinson's solo career. The group continued to spin out hits until the early '70s, however, getting their only number one in 1970 with the upbeat "The Tears of a Clown" (which had actually been recorded back in 1966). Robinson left the group to go on his own in 1972; the Miracles continued without him with limited success, although they had a number one hit in 1976 with "Love Machine, Pt. 1." Robinson had been made a vice president at Motown near the beginning of his career in 1961. He recorded frequently as a solo artist for Motown in the '70s and '80s, in a considerably mellower vein than his Miracles work, in keeping with the general shift of Motown and soul toward urban contemporary. Robinson, in fact, provided that genre with one of its catch phrases with the title of his 1975 album, A Quiet Storm. "Cruisin'" (1979) and "Being with You" (1981) were his biggest solo hits, although artistically and commercially his solo era wasn't nearly as successful as his music with the Miracles. ~ [Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide]
For Marvin Gaye Number 611
For ABC see Number 971
Smokey Robinson is that rare pop singer whose rhapsodic lyricism hasn't diminished with approaching middle age. Indeed, time has added a metaphysical depth to his art. The postadolescent Romeo who created "The Tracks of My Tears" and "Ooh, Baby Baby" exudes the same sweetness today he did fifteen years ago, but his tenor and falsetto have shaded into a single dusky croon. Robinson's mature interpretive approach is likewise an extension of his younger self. Whereas Frank Sinatra's pleading ardor and Billie Holiday's gutteral enthusiasm turned cynical and tragic respectively, Smokey Robinson's faith in the redemptive power of erotic love continues unabated. In Robinson's musical world, sexual happiness isn't the product of spiritual equilibrium but its source.
Three of the record's four Robinson originals look back to more innocent days. "Food for Thought," a reggae-calypso hybrid that warns against everything from pollution to adultery, is the exception, and Smokey Robinson sounds uncomfortable singing it. In "Being with You," a breezy little ballad embellished with horns, Robinson takes the same guileless tone that characterized his earliest love songs and begs a lover not to leave him. "If You Wanna Make Love (Come 'round Here)" echoes the easy-going sinuousness of "You Really Got a Hold on Me," while "You Are Forever" extends a promise of eternal love so beautifully and directly that you practically forget how shopworn the sentiment is.
Following the sophisticated Warm Thoughts, Being with You seems almost resolutely old-fashioned. But underneath its gloss, Warm Thoughts was just as traditional, since it too expressed Robinson's awesome commitment to romantic love. In a time when pop music grows more and more sexually explicit, pure exaltation is increasingly difficult to evoke with much conviction. After all, instant sex has rendered many of the conventions of classical courtship obsolete. Don't think, however, that Robinson's songs aren't filled with sex. They are. But in this man's art, sex isn't a fast roll in the hay, it's sweet manna shared during a leisurely stroll into paradise. Smokey Robinson creates that paradise every time he opens his mouth to sing. While his is a world in which tears are copious, the tears are as natural–and desirable–as rain. And the sun, when it shines, is dazzling. (RS 341)
Labels: Smokey Robinson