Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Miracle Milestone: Smokey Robinson 80

Greetings and ooh, baby baby it's time to celebrate more Black History Month glory with a mega-milestone birthday for one of the true touchstones for the music of our age.
This guy though. Look at that mug. He must have had the ladies lined up to the horizon after the show, huh? Damn.
And that voice, sweet Jesus on six bicycles. If they didn't wanna take him home after laying eyes on him, once he opened his mouth they must have had to peel the chicks off the ceiling.
It wouldn't have mattered if he had three heads, really. Some people come with something so genre-defining and distinctive, they could be singing the phone book and people would lose their minds before they got to Aaron.
Let's be direct: this person did as much to define the sound of American music of our epoch as any single guy you could name.
They called it The Motown Sound and he was a ground-floor, formative architect of it. 
Not long after that, he essentially invented the whole Quiet Storm thing, for which there's a radio station in every city and town now but which back then didn't exist as we know it today.
I feel like if you had a dollar for every child conceived to his music, you'd be able to buy the city of Detroit.
And wouldn't you know it? Smokey Robinson is 80 years young today. Every post I do on here, I get to feeling a little bit older.
He still sings and plays shows, too. And I'd bet my last Soul Train money with Don Cornelius that Smokey's never once used Autotune, either.
There aren't a whole lot of unissued items from his vast output over these last six decades, but there are a few gems lurking.
Like this one, for instance. It is the soundtrack for his episode of the superlative 1970s/1980s German TV extravaganza Musikladen, which started as Beat Club in the Sixties and took over the European music TV market before videos and MTV.
How this entire performance isn't available on Blu-Ray or Electric Hologram Generator or whatever the kids use today I have no idea, except to say All Empires Fall and America is next.
Smokey Robinson 
"Musikladen Extra"
WDR-TV Studios
Bremen, Germany 
10.21.1977

01 Open
02 I Am I Am
03 Baby That's Backatcha
04 The Agony & the Ecstasy
05 Vitamin U
06 The Tracks of My Tears
07 Tears of a Clown
08 Ooh Baby Baby
09 Theme from "Big Time"
10 "Big Time" reprise

Total time: 43:19

Smokey Robinson – vocals
Reginald "Sonny" Burke – keyboards
Marv Tarplin – guitar
Wayne Tweed – bass
Scotty Harris – drums
James "Alibe" Sledge – congas & vocals
Fred Smith – saxophones & flute
Michael Jacobsen – saxophones & cello
Ivory Stone Davis – percussion & backing vocals
Patricia Henley – vocals

audio of a German TV broadcast; exact source unknown
slightly retracked and band info annotated by EN, February 2020
258 MB FLAC here
I will stroll back by tomorrow with more diamonds from the mine, when we'll continue the BHM musings with yet another performer for the ages.
 But today we are going to a go-go, and paying necessary tribute to Smokey on his 80th, hoping everyone seconds that emotion by clicking the link and pulling down this smokin' set from his underrated-but-oh-so-very-funky mid-'70s period!--J.