Reviews Round-Up: Smokey Robinson's Collaboration Album 'Smokey & Friends'
The great American songwriter revisits his glory days with the help of an impressive list of pop stars he influenced
Soul and R&B legend Smokey Robinson releases a new album this week entitled Smokey & Friends.It sees the iconic singer and songwriter revisit the tracks that made him so famous and reinterpret them with as duets with other famous singers, from both past and present.
Influential singer and songwriter Smokey Robinson is singing his greatest hits with other stars
It sees the iconic singer and songwriter revisit the tracks that made him so famous and reinterpret them with as duets with other famous singers, from both past and present.
Just a few of the collaborations include: Elton John (‘Tracks of My Tears’); Steven Tyler of Aerosmith (‘You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me’); Aloe Blacc and JC Chasez (‘My Girl’); James Taylor (‘Ain’t That Peculiar’); Sheryl Crow (‘Tears of a Clown’); as well as songs with Jessie J, Cee Lo Green and Mary J Blige.
It’s Smokey’s first non-compilation release in fifteen years. His last album Intimate was released on a revival of the legendary Motown imprint way back in 1999.
The 74 year old spoke to NPR about Smokey & Friends in a short interview. He talked about picking up Diana Ross & The Supremes while he was a talent scout for the Motown label, and also attributed his artistic longevity to running marathons when he was younger.
Rolling Stone magazine gave the new record a largely positive review, calling it a “balance of respectful tributes and reimaginings”, adding that the addition of several other stars means “you can feel the gratitude spanning the decades”.
The Washington Post echoed this sentiment but thought it was occasionally too reverential, and that “the collection clicks when the gushing takes a backseat to grooving”.
Sarah Rodman at the Boston Globe is one of the most complimentary, while recognising the inherent limitations of a nostalgia album of this nature “while the new versions have little chance of replacing the originals seared into our collective brains, both Smokey and his buddies certainly sound like they’re having a good time revisiting Hitsville”.