My World: The Definitive Collection

by: Smokey Robinson

Compiling a single-disc set of tracks from William "Smokey" Robinson's long career and calling it a "definitive collection" is a bit absurd, since Robinson -- as a writer, singer, producer, and arranger -- has had a hand in countless hits over the years, at Motown and elsewhere, and nothing short of an extensive box set could hope to even come close to defining that kind of pop history. What My World as a single-disc compilation does do, though, is bring together tracks from all phases of Robinson's tenure, from his 1960s and early-'70s material with the Miracles through his smooth R&B hits as a solo artist in the later '70s and '80s, and then tops everything off with two brand new songs, making this a collection that spans four decades of elegantly arranged romantic pop in just over 70 minutes. You can't complain about a lack of quality, since the classic Miracles hits are here, including "The Tears of a Clown" and "The Tracks of My Tears," as well as Robinson's biggest solo hits, like the lush, irresistible "Cruisin'" from 1979 and his genre-defining "Quiet Storm," which lent its title to a whole new R&B radio format. Still, it will always be a little jarring to hear the earlier Miracles material next to the smoother (relatively) solo stuff, even if most of the musical ingredients are the same. The new tracks are lushly and lovingly arranged, and "My World" in particular seems to have the stamp of a future Smokey classic. Die-hard fans will want the two new songs, but undoubtedly will already have everything else collected here, so devotion will have to be measured. Casual listeners will benefit the most, getting an overview of Smokey's considerable achievements in one package, although that's no excuse for not going back and buying every Miracles album in the rack. ~ Steve Leggett

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