Smokey Robinson Geoff Brown - Essay

Geoff Brown

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

It was, perhaps, a sad commentary on certain features of today's music scene that one could predict with almost complete accuracy the erroneous hatchet jobs which passed for "critiques" of "Smokey," Robinson's first solo album since splitting with the Miracles.

That album had nine tracks. Two were not written by Smokey and thus not wholly his meat. Of the other seven "Just My Soul Responding," "Holly" "Sweet Harmony," "A Silent Partner in A Three-Way Love Affair" and "Baby Come Close" were as good as most of the stuff he recorded previously. That sort of success ratio doesn't make an album a stinker. "Pure Smokey" is Robinson's second solo shot and is a disappointment after the promise of "Smokey." The ballads aren't as strong as "Holly" or "Baby Come Close"; the refined rockers aren't as compelling as "Just My Soul Responding." The topics Robinson's newer songs deal with are contemporary and specific. They deal with sex in the "permissive" and "enlightened" age…. The lyrics lack Smokey's usual sharp imagery…. However, three tracks are up to his standard. "Asleep On My Love" and "Fulfill Your Need" are simple, warm love songs—one says realise I love you, the other says make use of my love. The last track on the album is the best. It is called "A Tattoo," was written by Robinson … and has the strength of metaphor we've come to expect in Smokey's writing. It doesn't erase the sense of disappointment fostered by "Pure Smokey."

Geoff Brown, "Smokey: Pure and Simple," in Melody Maker (© IPC Business Press Ltd.), June 22, 1974, p. 42.