From one end of the R&B spectrum to the other, today we are “Going To A Go-Go” with Motown legend Smokey Robinson & The Miracles. Album #412 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, this is the super-smooth Smokey at his best. Not only a legendary singer and performed, Smokey Robinson is one of the productive and successful songwriters for Team Motown.
A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to see Smokey Robinson perform at the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida. I was the second youngest person in the room by approximately 35 years I believe… the youngest was of course my son, the inspiration and driving force behind this adventure. This album opens with another of my most favorite songs of all-time, “The Tracks of My Tears”. I rate this song up there with “Cupid” by Sam Cooke as one of the most simply beautiful songs ever. Not only is Smokey incredible on vocals, the backing vocals and instrumentation are perfect, and the lyrics absolutely nail that empty feeling that comes with going through the motions when you have lost the one you love.
Following that masterpiece is “Going to A Go-Go”, a much more up-tempo track I first heard covered by the Rolling Stones on their 1981 world tour album, “Still Life”. Smokey then shifts gears once again, with two other mellow classics, “Ooo Baby Baby” and “My Girl Has Gone”. The rest of the album isn’t quite as instantly recognizable, but it is still a phenomenal listen and a great compliment to the Diana Ross collection from a few days ago.
One last tangent on Smokey Robinson. So… we all know the ensemble mass hit “We Are the World” by USA for Africa. When they were handing out solos for that song, how in the hell was Smokey Robinson left in the chorus with solos allocated to the likes of Kim Carnes, or frankly, most of the other people in that group? Don’t get me wrong, there are some true legends on that track… I’m just saying Smokey should have been a featured performer, not stuck in the chorus with Dan Aykroyd and LaToya Jackson among others.
Make sure you spend some time with Smokey, especially “The Tracks of My Tears”. You won’t regret it, I assure you.