Saturday, March 27, 2004

#31) Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 (released in 1968, I bought it on used vinyl when visiting my mom in Boston for Thanksgiving '02)

The 12 best tracks off of the Temptations and Marvin Gaye compilations I own could have ranked higher, but those albums clock in at 21 and 47 tracks respectively, so you can find those albums in the 101-200 positions on this list. One of the reasons I haven't digged much deeper into Robinson's ouvre (aside from, you know, moolah) is that I find this album entirely satisfying. I don't hunger for more Smokey than it gives me but I'm glad I've got what I have (I loved it as a kid, but I really don't miss "Tears Of A Clown" now - that Pagliacci reference always feels so gratuitous and "Tracks Of My Tears" handles sentiment better).

As time goes on I'll probably buy more of his albums, but I'm tempted to let him stop while he's ahead. Just as my sisters' Supremes comp annoyed me with its endless variations on a single theme, I could see Smokey's eternal niceness wearing on me too. One of my favorite tracks on this is "I'm The One You Need," since for once he actually gets proactive about the girl, demanding appreciation rather than subtly alluding to pain or seconding that emotion. His assured, emotive vocals and tight songcraft on those bother-with-me-if-you-will tracks are far too warm to come off as painfully genteel - nothing wrong with being kind, per se (lots right with it, actually) - especially when combined with pro-dance declarations like "Going To A Go-Go" and "Do The Jerk" (which eternally amuses a filthy-minded fellow like myself) and blessedly selfish tracks like "The Love I Saw In You Was Just A Mirage" and "Choosey Beggar." For some reason doesn't have an entry for Vol. 1, but I'd probably snap it up if I found it somewhere for the same price. For an added gas, try adding basso profundo exclamations of "oh, yeah" at the end of lines to turn these tracks into Temptations songs. Cracks me up.

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