Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – Going to a Go-Go/ Away We a Go-Go (1965-66)

No wonder they’re called the Miracles.

Toting tunes capable of moving mountains, stopping wars, healing the sick, raising the dead and turning water to wine, the Detroit, Michigan group chalked up a couple of dozen Top 40 hit singles during the 1960s. Even when Smokey departed the aggregation at the end of the decade, they kept right on depositing the gold. As for Smokey, he embarked on a successful solo career, and to this day he continues to stir the hearts and minds of people of all ages across the world.

What we have here are two great Smokey Robinson and the Miracles albums brought together on one disc in 2002. Those with the faintest knowledge of the group or pop music in general, need not be told these records were originally pressed on Berry Gordy’s visionary Motown label, where Smokey held the lofty roles of vice-president, resident songwriter and producer. Going to a Go-Go initially surfaced in November of 1965, while Away We A Go-Go arrived exactly a year later.

A handful of chart-busting tunes appear on Going To A Go-Go, namely the soft and sexy “Ooo Baby Baby,” the confessional “Tracks Of My Tears,” the wistful “My Girl Has Gone” and the foot-tapping title cut. “From Head To Toe,” “Choosey Beggar,” “A Fork In The Road” and “My Baby Changes Like The Weather” rank as other rock solid entries adorning the disc. Sailing along at a nice clip, Going To A Go-Go boldly accents the group’s collective gift for delivering songs beaming with a clarity and purity of spirit.

Not quite as catchy and direct as Going To A Go-Go, but still arresting no matter which way the wind blows, Away We A Go-Go features memorable sentiments such as “(Come Round Here) I’m The One You Need,” “Save Me” and a butter-melting version of “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me,” that Dusty Springfield scorched the airwaves with. Always the consummate professionals, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles remain focused and anchored amid the performances. Flexing their talents to maximum capacity, the group wields a subtle power that pushes the proper buttons time and time again.

Smokey’s high tenor, flourishing with sweetness and light, intertwined with the fine and feathery harmonies of the Miracles, makes for some of the most impassioned sounds committed to tape. The feelings these guys emote are so real that they spring to life. Moods ranging from melancholic to ecstatic are conveyed with honesty and humanity.

Motown Records was home to a flock of extraordinary artists, but there’s little debate Smokey Robinson and the Miracles sat at the peak of the totem pole. Framed of elegant arrangements, shapely melodies and sparkling vibrancies galore, Going to a Go-Go and Away We a Go-Go are stocked tight with the kind of rich and classy soul pop songs that never go out of style.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 on the national charts with "Stand By Me" - which is ironically one of her favorite songs, especially the version by John Lennon. She has also contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as associate editor of Rock Beat International. Paterson's own publications have included Inside Out, and Twist And Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.

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