Soul-Patrol Newsletter



SPN: Black History Month - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Billy Griffin, Claudette Robinson, Pete Moore, Ronnie White, Bobby Rogers, Definitive Performances 1963 - 1987, Timeless Love, Like Water, Tears Of A Clown,More Love, Come Too Far To End It Now, Bad Girl, Shop Around, Tracks Of My Tears,Here I GoAgain, Ooo Baby Baby, Mickey’s Monkey, Going To A Go Go
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Click Here to get more info about Black History Month on Soul-Patrol.com

LISTEN TO: Smokey/Miracles LIVE 1957-1972: Tears Of A Clown,I Don’t Blame You At All,Satisfaction, GotTo Be There, MoreLove, Come Too Far To End It Now, Abraham, Martin&John, Intro/Band, Bad Girl, Shop Around, TracksOfMy Tears,HereI GoAgain, OooBabyBaby,Mickey’s Monkey, Going To A Go Go (w/Billy Griffin)

Soul-Patrol Newsletter Headlines:


* HISTORICAL ANALYSIS - Going to the Outer Limits With the Songs of Smokey Robinson

* DVD REVIEW: Smokey Robinson & The Miracles (Definitive Performances 1963 - 1987)

* CD REVIEW: Billy Griffin - "Like Water"

* AUDIO INTERVIEW - Claudette Robinson

* CD Review: Smokey Robinson's "Timeless Love"



Welcome To The Soul-Patrol Newsletter

I am truly proud to be able to present to a kind of update on the legendary group once known as Smokey Robinson and the Miracles here on Soul-Patrol. And I think that Black History Month is the perfect time of the year to do so. I don't think it's any secret that Smokey Robinson and the Miracles are probably my very favorite of all of the so called "Classic Soul" artists (and if you didn't know it before, you will certainly know it by the time you are done with this newsletter). Some folks have written in and asked me why I mention them so little, since I don't make any secret about how I feel about the music of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Well I think that the answer to that question is that because I don't want anyone to accuse me of "playing favorites", I tend to bend over backwards to try to avoid anyone thinking that I do.

However in reality a serious update is now in order. Although the entity once known as "Smokey Robinson and the Miracles" no longer exists and hasn't since 1972, the "piece parts" are still very active and comprise a major part of what we call "Great Black Music From the Ancient to the Future", here in 2007. Smokey Robinson and Billy Griffin both have new solo albums. Claudette Robinson is one of the major forces behind the scenes with the R&B Foundation. There is a new Smokey Robinson and the Miracles DVD which features interviews with Smokey Robinson, Pete Moore and Bobby Rogers. And of course our friends at Motown Select are constantly digging up 'lost treasures" from the Motown Vaults, such as the Smokey Robinson and the Miracles live 1972 concert from the Carter Baron in Washington DC.

We have been keeping up with all of this activity on Soul-Patrol's Smokey Robinson and the Miracles homepage at http://www.soul-patrol.com/soul/smokey.htm But for Black History Month 2007 , we thought it was time for an update in the Soul-Patrol Newsletter and here it is



--Bob Davis
earthjuice@prodigy.net


HISTORICAL ANALYSIS - Going to the Outer Limits With the Songs of Smokey Robinson

Going to the Outer Limits With the Songs of Smokey RobinsonPlease bear with me...
I ask your forgiveness, but I'm just trying to work out a few ideas to help me get to where I need to go, because I have a very specific task that I have to accomplish, that involves me laying out a few ideas and placing a context around things...

Although it might not appear to be so, I am actually trying to get to a very specific thing, it's not just "random conversation about Smokey Robinson"

I've been actually trying to work all of this out in my mind for many years and you can see some of my earlier attempts when the site first began on the following web pages:

- http://www.soul-patrol.com/soul/nt_smokey.htm
- http://www.soul-patrol.com/soul/smokey1.htm
- http://www.soul-patrol.com/soul/baby.htm

Those three web pages are actually raw & incomplete, and left incomplete on purpose. Those 3 pages are very "raw" and they are the result of a "stream of consciousness" which occurred at around 3am one night, with the 3 disc Smokey Robinson and the Miracles "Anthology" blasting in my headphones, back in 1998 when I first decided to actually put something about the Miracles on the web....lol

Since that time I have pretty much left Smokey Robinson alone, in terms of doing anything beyond something superficial.

And now I return to one of my very favorite topics...

Smokey Robinson is truly a unique artist in my eyes. I first became a fan of his music when I was about 10 years old (1967).

As I have stated many times, the foundation of the Soul-Patrol website is built upon the music & ideas of three artists:

- Miles Davis
- Jimi Hendrix
- Smokey Robinson

Those three are not arbitrary. There is a specific reason for each of the three.

Smokey Robinson's music has had a big influence on my life. The songs he has written are something that I have analyzed to death, over and over again, every which way from Sunday. Just ask anyone who knows me....lol

And because he is BOTH the "singer" and the "songwriter", the songs are executed EXACTLY as he wants them to be. The songs themselves are majestic 3 minute parables. But that's only part of the story.

And understanding the rest of the story means that I had to seek out both the "horizontal" as well as the "vertical".

Like most artists, Smokey Robinson's music is usually presented as a "vertical thing".

- a song
- an album
- an isolated performance
- a chart position
- etc.

Usually viewed as a singular thing in a vacuum, out of context, and therefore outside of the realm of true focus & clarity. Therefore the true value of his artistic contribution is totally misunderstood, even by people who think he is a great artist.

Even Bob Dylan's famous quote about Smokey is insufficient. Don't simply think of Smokey as a mere "poet". Think of him as a writer/storyteller on the same level as someone like James Joyce.

Remember how surprised you were the first time you read "Ulysees" and found that when you reached the end of the book, that you were right back at the beginning?

You see it's the music of Smokey Robinson that taught me to look at things in life in a "horizontal fashion" in addition to looking at life in a "vertical fashion"....(click here to continue)


LISTEN TO: Smokey/Miracles LIVE 1957-1972: Tears Of A Clown,I Don’t Blame You At All,Satisfaction, GotTo Be There, MoreLove, Come Too Far To End It Now, Abraham, Martin&John, Intro/Band, Bad Girl, Shop Around, TracksOfMy Tears,HereI GoAgain, OooBabyBaby,Mickey’s Monkey, Going To A Go Go (w/Billy Griffin)

DVD REVIEW: Smokey Robinson & The Miracles (Definitive Performances 1963 - 1987)

DVD REVIEW: Smokey Robinson & The Miracles (Definitive Performances 1963 - 1987) Well, I dunno what to say about this one...(sike, of course I know what to say)

This DVD is kind of a "mixed bag" for me.

It's mostly a "vertical" high level overview of the career of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. And taken on that basis, I suppose it's ok.

Let's start with the good stuff...

- The live performance of "You Really Got A Hold on Me" from the Apollo circa early 1960's, is SLAMMIN.

- The interviews with Smokey, Bobby Rogers and Pete Moore are very entertaining. Pete Moore really comes across as someone who has a lot to say and he does a good job in expressing his perspective. Bobby Rogers doesn't have much to say, you can tell that he's trying, but he can't get a word in edge wise between Smokey and Pete Moore.....lol. Of course we have all seen Smokey interviewed many times. Usually Smokey is one of those kind of people whose body language on TV is a dead giveaway. He has always looked somewhat uncomfortable on TV doing anything else besides singing. This was one of the few times that I have ever seen him looking comfortable on TV and that was refreshing to see.

Probably the best part of the interview segments is that it looks like Pete, Smokey and Bobby of them are still friends after all of these years and that is very reassuring.

Perhaps the three of them can work together to find out just why Smokey Robinson has been inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, but the other members of the Miracles haven't been?

In fact, I wondered why that question is not addressed in the DVD itself. I get 2-3 emails every week asking me that very same question. It's something that ALL Miracles fans want to know the answer to. I tell them that I don't know why. Maybe it's a "typographical error" on the part of the RRHOF? The DVD could have provided the answer to that question? I suppose that it will just have to remain a mystery?

This is probably a good product for the casual or new Smokey Robinson and the Miracles fan, and I suppose that is it's intended audience?

But for me 3 major perspectives were missing:

- Claudette Robinson
- Marv Tarplin
- Billy Griffin

Of course all three of these "missing Miracles" are discussed; however I thought that the presence and perspective of Claudette Robinson, Marv Tarplin and Billy Griffin on this type of project was an absolute requirement. Perhaps they were unavailable on the days when the interviews were conducted?

The performances on this DVD are "Lip Synched" TV appearances from the mid 60's, more "Lip Synched" TV appearances from the mid 70's w/Billy Griffin and some 1980's eMpTyV style solo Smokey Robinson videos. I have seen much better video on the Miracles [ex: The TAMI Show, On Billy Griffin's website, The Miracles late 60's/early 70's Network TV special, Smokey on Motown 25, YouTube, etc.] Perhaps the producers couldn't get clearances?

In any event, the subtitle "Definitive Performances 1963 - 1987" would seem to be somewhat misleading?

And of course the biggest disappointment for me was that there was no discussion about the "horizontal". And that is a shame, because as I watched I could see that there were several points where Smokey is on the verge of talking about it, when he talks about how he came to write certain songs.

I literally wanted to jump on the other side of the screen and ask Smokey if the "supernatural wench" that he described in "You Really Got a Hold on Me" is the same woman from "Bad Girl" or is she the same "lying shrew" that he describes in "The Love I Saw in You Was Just a Mirage"? Are all three the same woman? Is it a "composite"? Or perhaps just a literary metaphor of some kind?

Unfortunately this DVD doesn't get quite that deep....

I suppose that the Smokey Robinson and the Miracles DVD that I am waiting for is yet to be made, and perhaps never will be made?

But that's just me. You see, I am a "horizontal thinker" and I want all of the dots connected!!!

This DVD is probably just fine for the new/casual fan of the group. It's a nice introduction to their legacy, for the uninitiated.

In the meanwhile, I'll be waiting for Godot (Smokey)


--Bob Davis

LISTEN TO: Smokey/Miracles LIVE 1957-1972: Tears Of A Clown,I Don’t Blame You At All,Satisfaction, GotTo Be There, MoreLove, Come Too Far To End It Now, Abraham, Martin&John, Intro/Band, Bad Girl, Shop Around, TracksOfMy Tears,HereI GoAgain, OooBabyBaby,Mickey’s Monkey, Going To A Go Go (w/Billy Griffin)

CD REVIEW: Billy Griffin - "Like Water"

CD REVIEW: Billy Griffin - Like WaterWhen it comes to Billy Griffin, I am extremely biased (so I may as well tell you that up front). In my opinion, he is one of the most underrated and under recognized artists in the history of Soul music.














Here are some of the facts that you need to know about Billy Griffin:

Motown

"Don't Let It End ('Til You Let It Begin)" (1973) R&B: #26 US: #56
"Give Me Just Another Day" (1973) R&B: #47 US: #111
"Do It Baby" (1974) R&B: #4 US: #13
"Don't Cha Love It" (1974) R&B: #4 US: #78
"Gemini" (1975) R&B: #43 US: #101
"Love Machine - Pt. I" (1975) R&B: #5 US: #1 UK: #3
"Night Life" (1976) R&B: #60

Columbia

"Spy for Brotherhood" (1977) R&B: #37 US: #104
"I Can Touch the Sky" (1977)
"Mean Machine" (1978) R&B: #55


How many other artists do you know of who sang lead on ten charting hits that get as little respect as...

"Mr. oh I can't remember his name but he is the guy who took smokey robinson's place"...




LISTEN TO BILLY GRIFFIN - LIKE WATER: Billy Griffin - Like Water - 1. Like Water, 2. All The Way To Love, 3. Forgive Me If You Can, 4. Livin' Deja Vu, 5. Oxygen, 6. Weak, 7. Be Unto Me A Lady, 8. Oblivion, 9. It's Bad Karma, 10. Joy And Happiness, 11. Sincerity, 12. Like Water (Reprise)



Well now history and popular sentiment have the opportunity to make a long overdue correction with the release of Billy's awesome new album called "LIKE WATER". If all was right with the world (and music industry politics) Billy Griffin is a name that should never have left our consciousness. By all rights, after the commercial demise of the Miracles in the late 70's Billy should have by all rights been one of the top "soul men" of the 1980's right along with names like Luther, Teddy, Peabo and the rest of his peers. Oh that's not to say he didn't have solo success with hits like "Hold Me Tighter in the Rain", but it wasn't enough for him to remain in the public consciousness and after a while he simply became...

"Mr. oh I can't remember his name but he is the guy who took smokey robinson's place"...




(well now you know his name...)


LISTEN TO BILLY GRIFFIN - LIKE WATER: Billy Griffin - Like Water - 1. Like Water, 2. All The Way To Love, 3. Forgive Me If You Can, 4. Livin' Deja Vu, 5. Oxygen, 6. Weak, 7. Be Unto Me A Lady, 8. Oblivion, 9. It's Bad Karma, 10. Joy And Happiness, 11. Sincerity, 12. Like Water (Reprise)


One of the things that we understand as we get older is that everything happens for a reason and somewhere there is in fact a "master plan" etched in stone for all of us. Maybe in Billy Griffin's "master plan" it says that "in 2006 he is supposed to pick up where artists like Luther, Teddy, Peabo, etc. left off and become the guy who resurrects from the dead, the whole tradition of "Black Male Solo Singers".

On the album "Like Water", Billy Griffin does exactly that! Those fans that are only superficially familiar with Billy's group work with the Miracles are going to be in for a pleasant surprise. Here are two facts about Billy Griffin that most people have forgotten: 1) Billy did one of the first concept albums at Motown ("Love Machine") and 2) Billy Griffin was a protégé of Marvin Gaye, who in fact was the producer of the song "I Love You Secretly", which just happens to be one of the most romantic songs ever laid down on wax. (From the Miracles legendary "Renaissance" LP).


Once you remember those two facts, "Like Water" makes all of the sense in the world. It's a "concept album", with a thread that runs through all of the songs. The album is designed to be listened through without interruption.

Check out the track listing for "Like Water":


Like Water
All The Way to Love
Forgive Me If You Can
Livin Déjà vu
Oxygen
Weak
Be Unto Me Lady
Oblivion
It's Bad Karma
Joy and Happiness
Sincerity
Like Water


Now go back and read those titles again, only this time in your mind take all of the titles and put them together into a single statement and you can clearly see (without even hearing the music) as you move from song to song, that a cohesive story is being told in this album and that the songs are intended to be listened to as an entire suite of music.

"The whole is more than the sum of it's parts"

The idea of telling a whole story being told in an album is not a new concept in Black music. Billy's mentor, Marvin Gaye was a master at it and here on the album "Like Water", Billy Griffin demonstrates that he took his lessons well. In fact I can't remember listening to an album quite like this in a long time. As I sat here and tried to separate the songs on the album to try and figure out which ones I liked best, I am unable to really do it. There are several songs that are great and could easily become "instant classics" ("Like Water", "Forgive Me if You Can, "Like Water", "Oblivion") but honestly in my opinion it almost does a disservice to the album to separate these songs from each other.

So what's the bottom line here, whose gonna dig this album?

1. If you were a fan of Marvin Gaye's romantic/concept albums, then you will be a fan of "Like Water".

2. If you were a fan of the R&B Sounds of artists like Luther, Teddy, Peabo, then you will be a fan of "Like Water".

3. If you are young lady who longs to be swept off her feet by an album of "romantic intelligence", then you will be a fan of "Like Water".

4. If you are a brotha on the make, it's a Friday night and you will be entertaining a young lady that your "just not sure of yet", then "Like Water" may just be what you need to "tilt the odds in your favor".


And if you should suddenly discover yourself in the position on a Saturday morning, that the odds were "tilted in your favor" on a Friday night by "Like Water".... Be sure to log on to your computer and send Billy Griffin an email to thank him, since he wrote the lyrics and crafted the story that just "got you over" the night before...

And be sure that while you are thanking him; tell him thanks also for creating one of the best albums of the decade (so far)



--Bob Davis
earthjuice@prodigy.net


LISTEN TO: Smokey/Miracles LIVE 1957-1972: Tears Of A Clown,I Don’t Blame You At All,Satisfaction, GotTo Be There, MoreLove, Come Too Far To End It Now, Abraham, Martin&John, Intro/Band, Bad Girl, Shop Around, TracksOfMy Tears,HereI GoAgain, OooBabyBaby,Mickey’s Monkey, Going To A Go Go (w/Billy Griffin)

AUDIO INTERVIEW - Claudette Robinson

Claudette Robinson and NightrainI finally got to meet Claudette Robinson of the Miracles, and she couldn't have been nicer to me (yes that is a picture of Claudette and I....lol). This is someone I have had a crush on since I was about 13 years old, and meeting her in person was truly exciting for me!!! I talked with her for quite a while. And as I talked with her, I knew that there was simply no way that I would be able to focus enough in order to sit down and do a taped interview with her, I was simply too "goo goo eyed"....lol (therefore Kevin Amos conducts the audio interview)

She is today (at whatever her age is) simply stunning.

And more importantly as you will hear in the interview she did with Kevin Amos, shes one of the most articulate and intelligent entertainers that you will ever meet.

Soul-Patrol's Kevin Amos interviews R&B Foundation Board Member Claudette Robinson about Artist Rights, Why are the Miracles not in the RRHOF, Pre Civil Rights Conditions, & the R&B Foundation.

Take a listen at the following link and let me know what you think...

Claudette Robinson Audio Interview

--Bob Davis



CD Review: Smokey Robinson's "Timeless Love"

Smokey Robinson's Timeless Love Forty-four years ago - that's right - Mr. Robinson first recorded several of the tunes on his latest album. Mr. Robinson still retains his tenor/falsetto voice and still demonstrates control although his voice does have a lower register - and this is a good thing. Having just listened to his 1962 versions of "Speak Low" and "I've Got you Under My Skin," I'm happy too say that the Smokey Robinson of 2006 is able to capture greater emotion from these recordings, which is something he did not display in 1962. In particular, "Under My Skin" really has a nice arrangement and vocal! Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, without question, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald could and did elevate these so-called "easy listening songs" to legendary status.

It's good, no, it's great to hear Smokey Robinson has the necessary sensitivity to convey the story, the message so important for this kind of quality (no rap allowed) music. However, with some songs Mr. Robinson seems to simply go through the motions. So, in this regard, it would have been great if Mr. Robinson re-captured the emotional content and vocal sensitivity from songs he's actually written like, "Even Tho," and "Gone Again," and "Sad Time," from his "Touch The Sky" album. Or, without question, "Daylight and Darkness" from the "Warm Thoughts" album. But don't let the aforementioned observations stop you from buying his latest album. Buy it. Sit back and relax, and listen to the absolute smoothest crooner around! Thanks, Smokey for a wonderful album!

--Trip Reynolds

LISTEN TO: Smokey/Miracles LIVE 1957-1972: Tears Of A Clown,I Don’t Blame You At All,Satisfaction, GotTo Be There, MoreLove, Come Too Far To End It Now, Abraham, Martin&John, Intro/Band, Bad Girl, Shop Around, TracksOfMy Tears,HereI GoAgain, OooBabyBaby,Mickey’s Monkey, Going To A Go Go (w/Billy Griffin)

Click Here to get more info about Black History Month on Soul-Patrol.com


 

If you have a news item, update, review, commentary, etc that you would like to submit to the Soul-Patrol Newsletter, please send them via email for consideration to:

earthjuice@prodigy.net


Hopefully you enjoyed this edition of the Soul-Patrol Newsletter.
We will be back soon with the next edition, with email alerts for local events, Soul-Patrol website updates/chat sessions or breaking news in between, as required.

If you have any comments, questions, etc feel free to drop me an email and let me know what's on your mind.
Bob Davis
earthjuice@prodigy.net

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