Tag Archives: Smokey Robinson & the Miracles

Smokey Robinson is 75

SmokeyUsually, when a musical artist reached the age of 70, I would indicate my favorite songs that they recorded. For some reason, though, five years ago, I listed some of my favorite songs WRITTEN by Smokey Robinson. And his legendary songwriting, and producing, IS worthy of note, and absolutely VITAL to the success of Motown Records.

A bit of Motown trivia: I Heard It Through the Grapevine, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, was first recorded by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles [LISTEN], but Berry Gordy rejected it, and Marvin Gaye’s version as well. He allowed Gladys Knight and the Pips to release it, and they had a #2 hit. Then, the other versions were released, with Marvin having a massive hit.

I haven’t heard it yet, but the artist released a new album, “Smokey & Friends” on August 19, 2014 on Verve Records, a duets collection “with Contemporary and Classic Artists such as Elton John, James Taylor, Mary J. Blige, Aloe Blacc, Jessie J, Miguel, CeeLo, Ledisi and more. It was his highest-charting album in 33 years.

The “problem” with putting together this list Continue reading Smokey Robinson is 75

From Which "Grapevine" Did You Hear It?

I love good cover versions of songs. Came across a rather fine list from Popdose. And I so agree with the opening statement: “It’s generally agreed upon that if you don’t have any new flavor to add to the original, you shouldn’t bother doing a cover.”

Certainly can’t argue with the top two, “Respect” by Aretha Franklin*, originally performed by Otis Redding*; and “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix*, originally done by Bob Dylan*. Both of the original artists have acknowledged the transformative nature of these covers. A previous list I saw contained songs that I had never heard of in the Top 10, which I discovered were less than six years old; seems to me these songs need to stand the test of time

But I have one nit to pick over this list, and it’s around the song “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” As noted here and elsewhere, the song by Motown staff writers Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong was first recorded by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles* on August 6, 1966. And Marvin Gaye* recorded his version on April 10, 1967. But Berry Gordy, the head of Motown, hated the song & vetoed the releases by both artists. Continue reading From Which "Grapevine" Did You Hear It?