Sunday, November 2, 2014


An odd mix of former A-list celebs and virtually unknown new soul singers sign on for the ritualistic back-patting featured on these remake/duets discs. Smokey And Friends features his very best pals signing all the same old 60's and 70's hits Robinson wrote for others or recorded himself. Plus, the young ones get to give a spoken-word tribute to the master at the start of several tracks, about what a privilege it is to sing with him, etc. Awkward, if you are humble, but this set isn't about humility.

I'm having a hard time figuring out what its about actually. Surely there have been enough tributes over the years to Robinson's rich writing of decades past. And there is little artistic gain from rehashing You Really Got A Hold On Me with Steven Tyler or The Way You Do (The Things you Do) with CeeLo Green. Elton John and James Taylor will show up for anybody's album, or rather, record their vocals at the nearest local studio to their home and mail in their parts. Miguel, Jessie J and Ledisi are apparently up-and-comers who will benefit from this association, or maybe it's Smokey who is trying to grab some of their hotness, hard to say. Anyway, I have this Motown box set with all the originals on it, when I need to hear Tears Of A Clown, that's where I go.

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