Smokey Robinson Richard Williams - Essay

Richard Williams

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

No artist ever deserved the showcase of a solo album more than Smokey Robinson….

Yet there's a temptation, on first listening to ["Smokey"] to murmur silently that the only thing it lacks is Messrs Moore, White, Rodgers, and Tamplin—in other words, the Miracles…. Prolonged familiarity, however, banishes such uneasiness, which was always falsely rooted….

Of Smokey's new material, the most immediately appealing are "Sweet Harmony", parting-is-such-sweet-sorrow benediction to his former colleagues, and "A Silent Partner In A Three-Way Love Affair", based on a lyric concept worthy of his very best songs, maintaining the tension between the mask and the reality explored in earlier things like "Tracks Of My Tears" and "The Tears Of A Clown". "Holly" is the story of a goodtime girl gone rotten, explained with tenderness and understanding, with a glorious tune to top it off. "Just My Soul Responding" is maybe the most unusual, based around a tribal chant…. "Wanna Know My Mind", "The Family Song", and "Baby Come Close" are at least up to the standard of the Miracles' old album material….

Perhaps "Smokey" isn't the total mindblast his ability always promises, but neither is it the product of a busy Executive Vice-President's spare time. His many adherents will cherish it.

Richard Williams, "'Smokey': A Solo Set to Cherish," in Melody Maker (© IPC Business Press Ltd.), July 28, 1973, p. 41.