Smokey Robinson Robert Palmer - Essay

Robert Palmer

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[The] sensuality of its lyrics and the loose, improvisational feel of the backup suggest that [the title tune of A Quiet Storm] is going to be Robinson's What's Going On or Innervisions, a formula-defying statement of both personal and social import. But Robinson is moved neither by Marvin Gaye's macho sensibilities nor by Stevie Wonder's semimystical mental images…. [He] naturally passes over both self-celebration and prophecy in favor of love and happiness. And his instincts for the perfect hook, the well-placed quaver and the arresting turn of phrase mean that even his seven-minute songs ("Storm," "Happy") retain the thematic compactness and lustrous patina of Motown singles…. "Wedding Song" is burdened by the sappiest words Robinson has written ("Oh what a beautiful day to take a vow on / Pray that the things we say will last from now on")….

In fact, Robinson's much touted abilities as a poetic lyricist aren't very important here, the sexy directness of "Storm" and "Backatcha" notwithstanding. His production and singing carry the album…. [The album suggests evidence] that one of black music's brightest lights is still a dynamic creative force. We can look forward to many more delights from him; if success were going to spoil him, it would have done so long ago.

Robert Palmer, "Records: 'A Quiet Storm'," in Rolling Stone (by Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. © 1975; all rights reserved; reprinted by permission), Issue 192, July 31, 1975, p. 58.