Smokey Robinson DAVID DALTON and LENNY KAYE - Essay


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The early years of Tamla-Motown belonged to Smokey Robinson, whose Miracles not only established the company as a major force (with "Shop Around") but musically set the succession of styles to be embellished in later administrations. [He was as] delicate a writer as he was a performer…. Between 1960 and the emergence of the Supremes four years later, he accounted for a majority of Motown's success, working with the Marvelettes, Marvin Gaye, Mary Wells and the Temptations, as well as boosting the Miracles to becoming one of the most visible and prolific attractions in the pop market.

Robinson wrote with intelligence and sophistication, underplaying his lyrical hand to separate the contradictions between fantasy and reality. He was at his best within the sad, sweetly-taken ballad, the milky quality of his voice flirting with heartache and devotion, reversing images one over the other: "The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game," "What's So Good About Good-Bye," "My Girl," and "The Love I Saw In You Was Just A Mirage." When called on to write more uptempo material, he responded with a broad grin, "Mickey's Monkey" and "Goin' To A Go Go," the Miracles stepping lithely around him. (p. 140)

David Dalton and Lenny Kaye, "Four on the Floor: The Motown Sound," in their Rock 100 (copyright © 1977 by David Dalton and Lenny Kaye; used by permission of Grosset & Dunlap, Inc.), Grosset & Dunlap, 1977, pp. 139-46.∗