SoleMannKing...The Smokey Robinson Collection

Here is a collection of some of the Smokey Robinson Albums i have purchased over the years. This is not all of them, i just wanted to post enough so that the Blog could look real interesting....LOL


On his follow-up to "Cruisin'," Smokey Robinson goes right back to that lazy, romantic style with "Let Me Be the Clock" (4 R&B, 31 Pop), which leads off the aptly named Warm Thoughts. Robinson seems to have taken the success of "Cruisin'" as his opportunity to distance himself from disco and return to his more familiar ballad style, even injecting a touch of his old wordplay in "Into Each Rain Some Life Must Fall." Side two begins with the more uptempo "Melody Man," which was arranged, co-written, and co-produced by Stevie Wonder, but for the most part this is the bedroom Smokey Robinson, and that got him to 14 on the LP chart, his highest solo peak yet.


Essar marks the low point of Smokey Robinson's solo career. Co-producer and arranger Sonny Burke, a long-time Robinson recording partner, provides nearly all the tracks, dominating the sound with his synthesized keyboards. On songs like "And I Don't Love You" (33 R&B), it's hard to identify the result as a Smokey Robinson record. This may help explain why Essar, Robinson's second straight album not to generate a Hot 100 Pop chart entry, was his lowest charting studio album on the Pop LPs list (141). But it also flopped with R&B fans, peaking at 35 and becoming his first album not to generate at least one Top 10 R&B hit.


Surprisingly, having scored his biggest solo success with the self-penned, self-produced Being with You, Smokey Robinson turned to an outside producer and outside writers for the followup. Both of the singles from Yes It's You Lady, which was produced by George Tobin, "Tell Me Tomorrow" (number three R&B, number 33 Pop) and "Old Fashioned Love" (number 17 R&B, number 60 Pop) were mid-tempo rhythm numbers written by Gary Goetzman and Mike Piccirillo. Robinson's own compositions, notably the title track, which would have made a perfect follow-up to "Being with You," were de-emphasized. The result was a retreat from the careful career-building Robinson had been engaged in since 1979; the album peaked at only number 33 after three straight Top 20 LPs. It was as though, having established himself as a solo voice, Robinson was now content to be "Cruisin'."


The genius of William "Smokey" Robinson is immeasurable. As many of his prior songs had shaped R&B and pop music, this album would have a similar effect. The title track became the namesake for a music format. The album itself had three singles hit the charts. Arranged in an intermittent rhythm, "Baby That's Backatcha" ran up the Billboard R&B charts to number one inside 16 weeks. It was Robinson's first number one single since leaving the Miracles. The lyric of the ballad "The Agony and the Ecstasy" hit the Top Ten at number seven, and it was followed by the masterpiece "A Quiet Storm." Although it only managed to seal the Top 25, it has since made a greater impact on the music charts and music industry. Briefly, radio mogul Cathy Hughes, owner of Radio One, was the general manager at Howard University radio WHUR during the early '70s when she created the format "the quiet storm." She used Smokey Robinson's composition as the theme song. Before long, it caught on around the country and evolved into a new market. This album also features the "Wedding Song" which was written for Hazel and Jermaine Jackson's wedding and the "Happy" theme from the movie
Lady Sings the Blues.


Smokey Robinson took back the production reins from George Tobin and reinstated his producing/arranging partnership with Sonny Burke for Touch The Sky. The two took a more rhythmic approach, with Burke contributing drums and synthesizers. R&B listeners responded, notably on the title track (68 R&B) and "I've Made Love To You A Thousand Times" (8 R&B), but Robinson was shut out of the Hot 100, and as a result Touch The Sky continued his slide in LP sales, peaking at only 50
on the Pop chart, although it hit 8 R&B.


Take away a bad attempt at trendiness "Why You Wanna See My Bad Side," a dullard "Feeling You, Feeling Me," a metaphoric disaster "Shoe Soul," and Love Breeze isn't half bad. The shimmering, floating "Daylight And Darkness" is a mesmerizer depicting his wife's dual personality. Claudette, an ex wife now, is a Gemini, an astrological sign known for split personalities. Smokey sings the stinging lyrics as if he's trying to penetrate Claudette's soul. The upbeat, romping "Love's So Fine," is a finger snapper that grabs you immediately. A soft, slow "I'm Loving You Softly" reeks of romanticism, while "Trying It Again," an uptempo romper, featuring a looping bassline, has a long, spirited fade with Smokey competing with the bass player for bragging rights.


Smokey Robinson landed his first big album of the 1980s with this release. The title track soared to the top of the R&B charts and stayed there, while it just missed topping the pop charts. Robinson's wonderful lead vocals, timing, dramatic delivery, and overall technique were as impressive as ever, and he got two more chart hits from the album. It eventually became his most successful LP ever from a commercial standpoint, although his artistic landmark as a solo artist remains A Quiet Storm.


A fine compilation covering recent Smokey Robinson love songs and hits. While some of these lack the staying power and integrity of The Miracles' hits, they were certainly superior to much of what was being marketed as romantic fare. Robinson's ageless falsetto, masterful lyrics, and professionalism have enabled him to survive numerous trends and changes in both the business and his audience. The success of these tracks reaffirmed his special qualities as one of the greatest performers in the history of American music.


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Comment by Shelley "SoleMann" King on January 20, 2008 at 2:59pm
Glad you like it Klu...I love him singing The National Anthem, i must have missed that game 22 years ago....LOL
Comment by Shelley "SoleMann" King on January 20, 2008 at 2:57pm
OSC...Nooooo my Brother, you gots to get your own....LOL. They ain't doing me no good at the moment, i don't have a Record Player....LOL
Comment by Edie Antoinette on January 19, 2008 at 11:15pm
It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't hear an actual *gong* each and every time I type it...LOL!
Comment by Shelley "SoleMann" King on January 19, 2008 at 11:10pm
Esgee. (SolemanGong)....LMBO

Comment by Edie Antoinette on January 19, 2008 at 11:04pm
I din't get it until I read Emgee..

that is genius! but then, we're talking about Essar..and he is straight brilliant...I like that Esgee.
(SolemanGong) lol
Comment by Shelley "SoleMann" King on January 19, 2008 at 10:53pm
To me Essar was a great album, it was recorded right after Marvin Gaye had died, as a matter of fact on the back of the album is a note Smokey had wrote saying...

A note to Emgee:

We're really gonna miss you.


The title of this album is one of the reasons why my name is EsKay on Youtube...Es (Shelley) Kay (King)
Comment by Edie Antoinette on January 19, 2008 at 9:55pm
This is special--as much as I love Smokey I never saw Essar--incredible! This is absolutely special.

Thanks SoleSuggah...

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  1. play Norman Brown — Night Drive
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The history of the Butlers/Raw Soul is dense, but for all of us music nerds, that's normal. It is not totally clear what year the Butlers actually formed but they released their first single in 1963 on Liberty Records. That single was "She Tried To Kiss Me" and another single followed on Guyden entitled "Lovable Girl." After the Guyden single the Butlers took a break not recording another record until the single "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" was released on the Phila label in 1966. The group also backed Charles Earland and Jean Wells on one Phila single ("I Know She Loves Me"). 

As you might be noticing, the Butlers were doing a fair amount of recording but not achieving much success. The group's recordings sold regionally but never had the promotion to make an impact on the national scene. After the single with Phila, the Butlers moved to the Fairmount label (part of the Cameo-Parkway family) and released a handful of singles, some being reissued singles of the past. The Butlers were with Fairmount for 1966-67 and then moved to Sassy Records. Sassy released the group's greatest single (in my opinion) "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" b/w "If That's What You Wanted." A copy of that 45 sold for just under $500 last summer on eBay. Even though that isn't that much in the world of record collecting--it's still a hefty sum. The Butlers released another single on Sassy ("She's Gone" b/w "Love Is Good") that appears to be even 
harder to come by then the "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" single.


The true history become a bit blurred here as the AMG biography states that the Butlers last record was released on C.R.S. in 1974 (". However, between 1971 and that single, Frankie Beverly formed a group called Raw Soul and released a number of singles. Some of the songs recorded by Beverly during this period are "While I'm Alone," "Open Up Your Heart," (both on the Gregor label) and "Color Blind." "Color Blind" was released by the Eldorado label and rerecorded by Maze. Beverly's big break came when Marvin Gaye asked Raw Soul to back him on a tour. Gaye helped Beverly/Raw Soul get a contract at Capitol. Beverly decided to take the group in a different direction, a name change occurred, and Maze was created. 

The above isn't the most complete history of Beverly but hopefully someone will know a way to get in touch with the man or his management because a comprehensive pre-Maze history needs to be done on Frankie Beverly (his real name is Howard, by the way). Below you'll find every Frankie Beverly (pre-Maze) song available to me right now ("Color Blind" will be up soon). 

If you have a song that is not included below, shoot it over to funkinsoulman (at) and it will go up in the next Frankie Beverly post (later this week--highlighting Maze). Also, if you have any more information please share your knowledge. The Butlers material has been comp-ed sporadically (usually imports) but the entire Maze catalog has been reissued and is available. 

Enjoy.  "She Kissed Me" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967) 
 "I Want To Feel I'm Wanted" (not sure which label or year) "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" (Phila, 1966) "Because Of My Heart" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967)
 "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" (Sassy, 1967)
 "If That's What You Wanted" (Sassy, 1967)

Frankie Beverly is one of those cats that has lasting power. He started in the music business doing a tour with doo wop group the Silhouettes and then formed his own group called the Blenders. The Blenders never recorded a single, Beverly wouldn't appear on wax until forming the Butlers a few years later. Along with Beverly, the Butlers included Jack "Sonny" Nicholson, Joe Collins, John Fitch, and Talmadge Conway.

Beverly would later enjoy great success fronting Maze and Conway would become a
well-known penning Double Exposure's
"Ten Percent" and the Intruders' "Memories Are Here To Stay." 
 While Maze is a phenomenal group, Beverly's work before that group will always stand out as his best (imo).

The Butlers produced tunes that most Northern Soul fans would kill for and Raw Soul gave the funksters something to pursue. If, by chance, you know of a way to get in touch with Frankie Beverly or his management, please drop me an e-mail. It would be absolutely great to do an interview with him about his pre-Maze work. He's still playing out, most recently doing a New Year's Eve show in Atlanta.
:: Funkinsoulman ::

Power...Through Simplicity ♪♫♪



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