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Album Review: Gasms
Smokey Robinson
Cover image of the album Gasms by Smokey Robinson
Smokey Robinson
2023 / TLR Music Group
41 minutes
Review by Steve Yip
Gasms is Smokey Robinson’s latest release! And at 83 years young! It’s so amazing to find that Smokey Robinson released this album almost a year ago in March 2023. I must have been sleeping at the wheel as I only discovered this recently by way of Crossover Media, the music promo outfit. Apparently Smokey was hitting the TV morning news shows like The Today Show promoting it.

Gasms is an album of new material not seen since Smokey’s last album in 2009. The body of work of this wildly prolific songwriter is historic and legendary!

Smokey’s early association with Barry Gordy and the Motown music empire as a performer, songwriter, producer and music industry executive molded the cultural juggernaut that helped break down ethnic, racial and cultural barriers and mainstreamed Black American popular music as the Civil Rights movement peaked. Smokey has left an indelible imprint on the cultural landscape of this country. In various ways he was one of the driving forces in developing the Motown sound and identity.

People my age shouldn't forget “Going To A Go-Go”, “Baby, Baby Don’t Cry,” “I Second That Emotion,” “Mickey’s Monkey,” or “Tears of a Clown.” Or what about the haunting “You Really Got a Hold on Me”? And if you don't recall, you have a big cultural lesson waiting for you! (Psst, see below!)

Smokey worked with The Supremes, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, and collaborated with Marvin Gaye -- just to name a few. When you examine the musical landscape of soul music you will find out that he wrote “My Guy” for Mary Wells, and “My Girl” for The Temptations.

Gasms is a collection of nine songs and all are in line with Robinson’s romanticism that defines much of his songs.

The first song “Gasms” kicks off the album with a comfortable quiet-storm quality. He projects much of the tenor and vigor we’ve known for so long. What is really remarkable is that Smokey is 83 years old, and while his sweet soothing falsetto is aged, he hasn’t lost his vocal touch. Again, the music is slowly paced, comfortable and pleasurable. “How You Make Me FeeI” follows. Then comes “I Wanna Know Your Body,” and “I Fit In There.” And don’t be too bashful cuz while he continues to focus on themes of love, there’s a lot of sensuality and touchiness located in these songs! And several music critics got fixated on that.

Smokey’s making a statement. His last album was in 2009. Apparently he ain’t finished yet and has no plans to quit. He’s even on the road performing and holding concerts! I may not be able to make any of his performances, but I do remember attending the Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ farewell concert in the Bay Area in 1972 (not the one at the Cow Palace but towards the south Bay -- and the entire Miracles team came out in hotpants!). Then he was leaving the Miracles, the group that he helped carry soul music into the American cultural milieu. He was to start a solo career as well as assuming his new position as vice president of Motown Records.

Smokey is a living legend and treasure. His songs have been covered by artists around the world, including The Beatles. Remember that many years ago Bob Dylan said on record that Smokey is “today's greatest living American poet.”

To refresh one’s memory banks about Smokey Robinson, the interview with DJ Vlad on VladTV channel with Smokey on YouTube.com is here. Fascinating...

Gasms is available from Amazon as a CD, on vinyl and to stream or download as well as Apple Music/iTunes and streaming platforms including Spotify.
January 17, 2024