CD Review: Smokey Robinson and the Four Tops

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
The Definitive Collection
Motown/UME
By David Chiu

The Four Topes
The Definitive Collection
Motown/UME
By David Chiu

As Motown turns 50 next year, the careers of two of the legendary acts from the label are spotlighted on these satisfactory single disc compilations.

It’s no surprise that Bob Dylan once remarked that Smokey Robinson was America’s greatest living poet. Anything that Robinson wrote and sang for the Miracles was gold, and this collection contain the fruits of his labors: “Shop Around,” “I Second That Emotion,” “Ooh Baby Baby,” “The Tears of a Clown,” “You Really Got a Hold On Me,” and the immortal “The Tracks of My Tears.” Those songs not only defined the label but they made a great impact on popular music period. There are plenty of compilations, including a boxed set, that has more Miracles songs but for an introduction this set is all you need.

The same can be said for this most recent Four Tops hits collection. The quartet was probably Motown’s greatest male vocal group other than the Temptations gave voice to many of the great hit songs written by the team of Holland-Dozier-Holland: “Reach Out (I’ll Be There),” “Bernadette,” “Baby I Need Your Loving,” and the signature Tops tune, “I Can’t Help Myself.” Any survey of Motown songs would be incomplete without at least one or two of those songs by the Four Tops.

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