Smokey Robinson Mark Vining - Essay

Mark Vining

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

A friend urged [Smokey Robinson and the Miracles: 1957/1972] on me with the recommendation that, though he was not a Miracles fan, it gave him chills….

[The] music here is superb…. The tunes are the essential ones, the trivial and the classic, and they yield a concise and accurate picture of the legendary group. From the late fifties ballad "Bad Girl" … to ‧72's "We've Come Too Far to End It Now," the style hasn't changed. It has matured intact, rising above the posturing so much soul music has engendered in its annexation to rock….

The Miracles' spartan fidelity to the form and content of R & B is but the slightest reason for their greatness. There's also their willingness to give all there is, musically, lyrically, emotionally, the quality that has produced some of the finest records ever made….

And yet, behind the gaiety, an unspoken sadness permeates the whole performance. It's there in Smokey's introductions, his banter, his giddy laugh as he fields the audience requests. The remarkable photo on the back sleeve gives us an awful picture of it, this feeling the album conveys, the one we long to suppress. It really is goodbye.

Mark Vining, "Records: 'Smokey Robinson and the Miracles: 1957/1972'," in Creem (© copyright 1973 by Creem Magazine, Inc.), Vol. 4, No. 10, March, 1973, p. 63.