Smokey Robinson - Smokey

Smokey Robinson – Smokey (Limited Edition Vinyl Review)

If you are someone who recognizes the significance of numbers and how the universal works… you should pay attention to Smokey Robinson. Laying this all out, in 2023 Smokey Robinson returned with his brand-new studio album Gasms. His first of all new material since 2009, back then, he released Time Flies When You’re Having Fun, and that album coincided with his 50th anniversary as a musician. Now, here is the interesting connection, Gasms was released on April 28, 2023… nearly 50 years to the date of when he released his first ever solo album, Smokey. Rather wild, isn’t it? Some may say these are just coincides, but anyone who knows of Smokey Robinson’s mystique, may think differently.

Smokey Robinson – a singer, songwriter, record producer, and former record executive – is perhaps one of the most significant figures in modern music history Originally the founder/leader of The Miracles (one of the biggest R&B groups of all-time), Smokey would produce a total of twenty-six top forty hits with the band. Rather amazing, he also was one of the major songwriters and producers for Motown Records in their years of dominance; penning many hit singles including The Temptations’ “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” Mary Wells’ “My Guy,” and Marvin Gayes’ “Ain’t That Peculiar,” to name a few.

Truly a force of artistic creativity, it also cannot be understated the influence Smokey had on many other artists… like The Beatles who would cover the song “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me.” Just some of the history behind his impact on popular music, interestingly enough, Smokey retired from The Miracles in 1972 in order to focus more on his role as Vice President of Motown Records. Understandable, considering the large amount of responsibility he had, it was still a bummer to think Smokey would no longer be performing. However, the end of one road began the beginning of another, because in June of 1973 he debuted solely under his own name with the album Smokey.

A release which introduced the world to Smokey Robinson as a solo artist, thanks to the incorporation of various styles, in many ways it was a perfect transition from The Miracles. Nine tracks in total, the album really offers a diverse mix that could appeal to a broad audience. For example, you have some interesting originals; such as “Sweet Harmony” (which was a tribute to The Miracles), “A Silent Partner in a Three-Way Love Affair,” and “Just My Soul Responding.” You also have a spectacular cover of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?,” plus a medley of The Association’s “Never My Love” and “Never Can Say Goodbye” (A hit for the Jackson 5 in 1971). In all, a record that laid the groundwork for where Smokey Robinson would do later on with other solo material, it was two years later he released the highly impressive A Quiet Storm in 1975, before more consistent success well into the late ‘80s, leading into 1988 Grammy winning single “Just to See Her.” 

Drawing out just how important the Smokey album is, now in 2024, it is being reissued to vinyl. Put out there on June 7th, the reissue is a part of Elemental Music’s Motown Sound Collection where they are rolling out new pressings of unique, achieved albums throughout the year. For Smokey, they offer the album in transparent blue colored solid 140-gram vinyl. Rich with a very warm sound, the reissue is presented with original artwork and in a lovely gatefold jacket sleeve. 

Clearly put together with care, it is one of the early reissues in this new series from Elemental Music which will also include Smokey Robinson & The Miracles’ 1967 album Make It Happen (out on vinyl August 16th), plus many others. Proving it is a great time to reflect on the past of Smokey Robinson, while familiarizing yourself with the present (seeing that Gasms is out there and he does have some shows lined up throughout 2024), it is recommended to pick up this lovely vinyl reissue of Smokey, because Cryptic Rock gives it 5 out of 5 stars. 

Smokey Robinson - Smokey
Smokey Robinson – Smokey / Elemental Music (2024)

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