Smokey Robinson Robot A. Hull - Essay

Robot A. Hull

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

William "Smokey" Robinson was blessed at birth with an extraordinary poetic vision: God stepped down from His lofty perch and kissed the newborn's brow. Since then, Smokey … has made us swoon, massaging our hearts with a romantic lyricism that justly earned him the title of World's Greatest Living Poet….

Warm Thoughts … is the Motown Symbolist's most vital effort at keeping the embers of love burning since One Dozen Roses, his '71 twilight masterpiece with the Miracles. His lyrics still rely upon the turned around phrase ("Into Each Rain Some Life Must Fall")—a sure sign of an intrinsic faith in language—but more than that, they reflect the poetic maturation of an artist no longer deceived by a mirage….

To comprehend the adulthood of Smokey's rhyme scheme is to understand why the soul of his ballads belongs to a heaven light years away from the sleazy pit where Barry White and Teddy Pendergrass croon in June about spoons.

The album, of course, is not without flaws, but they are tactical errors, due primarily to the presence of intruders….

Nevertheless, the erotically rhythmic moments of the album … offset any of its headaches…. Warm Thoughts (its revealed intimacies perhaps even designed for our own bedrooms) may become the make-out album of the year. So start smooching.

Robot A. Hull, "Records: 'Warm Thoughts'," in Creem (© copyright 1980 by Creem Magazine, Inc.), Vol. 12, No. 3, August, 1980, p. 54.