Album: Smokey Robinson, The Solo Albums: Volume 1 (Motown)

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The Independent Culture

Unfairly neglected in comparison with equivalent albums by labelmates Gaye and Wonder, the sensitive Smokey and Pure Smokey from 1973 and 1974 are subtle if schmaltzy affairs that repay repeated listening.

The songs reflect Robinson's divorce and split from the Miracles (with whom his wife had sung), with co-producer Willie Hutch creating layered, corporate-soul settings as well as protest-funk for "Just My Soul Responding". Best of all are the ballads. The album that spawned a genre, A Quiet Storm, follows next month.