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Smokey's GASMS is a gas!: Spotlight: Smokey Robinson’s Latest CD ‘GASMS’ | VIDEO

Smokey Robinson then and now - Smokey Robinson’s Latest CD is 'GASMS'
Smokey Robinson then and now

*Up until 1976 when Johnny Taylor released an album titled EARGASM, I had always associated “gasm” with sex, but there are many gasm words where it’s used as a suffix. Leave it to Smokey Robinson to title his most recent album simply GASMS which is defined as “an intensely explosive or pleasurable experience or thing” as Smokey talked about in recent interviews.

Growing up in Detroit it was all things Motown – for one, they were THE local powerhouse; and second, the artists were like family. We listened to every new record as their voices developed to meet the challenge of the rhythmic intensity and urgency of the Motown beat.

Sometimes they pushed through the hoarseness, they growled, they screamed, or did some kind of inflection or nuance that impelled the soul to respond – thus, soul music! The music was a call to action especially during the turbulent civil rights movement.

The Urban Dictionary defines the word soulgasm as “a moment of pure spiritual ecstasy; in which, an artful piece of life touches and moves the very core of your being, forcing you to close your eyes, gape slightly, and lose yourself in its beauty, and as you do, a delightful tingling sensation flourishes from the back of your head and travels down your neck to ravish the entirety of your flesh.”

In the song “Ball Of Confusion” The Temptations sang ‘The Beatles’ new record’s a gas;’ but Motown songs were (and still are) gasms. For instance (to name a few), Smokey Robinson’s hoarseness sounded like he’d been crying all night when he sang ’ Although She May Be Cute’ on “Tracks Of My Tears,” and sounded so sad and forlorn on “Who’s Loving You;” Mary Wells sounded like she was crying through “Bye Bye Baby;” Marvin Gaye sounded like the fervor of a lawyer’s closing remarks in the line ‘tell you a few have kissed me too!’ on “Stubborn Kind Of Fellow;” Martha Reeves’ sudden panic singing ‘when I look in the mirror to comb my hair’ on “Nowhere To Run;” David Ruffin begged and pleaded in desperation from start to end on “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg;” Levi Stubbs’ husky declaration of love on “Bernadette;” and oh, the uninhibited freedom Stevie Wonder expressed on “I Was Made To Love Her.” The beauty of it was that all the Motown artists were trained to push through to infuse courage and satisfy the listener with an overwhelming feeling of hope!

Motown artists in London. Smokey shown between Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross – via Motown Museum

There’s a saying: “If you do what you love, you never work a day in your life.” So, when we look back on what Smokey has accomplished from the beginning of Motown; when you consider all of the rehearsals, recordings, and stage performances that he endured; not to mention his other duties as vice president, writer, and producer; he should sum it all up in one word – gasms. His contribution to the music industry is nothing short of a miracle!

Motown fan/connoisseur Mike Willcocks says: “No singer has retained the accuracy and fidelity of their voice over the years to the same extent as Smokey. The vast majority of artists struggle as they age, and some superstars simply cannot sing, although they still draw the crowds. Smokey is amazing in every respect, and his vast catalog of instantly recognizable hits is played on radio and streamed all over the world to *millions of listeners. Remarkably, at his age, he sounds so fresh and contemporary. And he looks great. Still collaborating seamlessly with such stars as Uncle Charlie Wilson and Anderson .Paak!”

“When people think of gasms, they think of orgasms first and foremost … I tell everybody: ‘Whatever your gasm is, that’s exactly what I’m talking about.’” — Smokey Robinson on the meaning of the album title and its conceptual focus (Wikipedia)

Listen to “You Fill Me Up”

GASMS, released in 2023, has some nice surprises. Conceived and developed over 20 years, this album very well could have been a follow-up to his 1974 Pure Smokey album. The title track sets the tempo and context for everything that follows. “How You Make Me Feel” and “If We Don’t Have Each Other” are upbeat radio-friendly tracks. “I Keep Calling You” seems to sum up the whole set where he goes in and out from introspection to extrospection. Although his vibrato showcases his vocal stamina in some areas of the songs, it’s more effective and sounds better in a lower register like on the song “You Fill Me Up.” “I Fit In There” is a great suggestive dance track! GASMS is a gas! Keep on smokin’ Smokey!

*Note: To substantiate “millions of listeners”: Smokey has well over 1 million listeners per month purely on Spotify, and of his vast catalogue, Cruisin’ alone has been streamed well over 69 million times and counting, on that service. And if you want to be even more impressed, Tracks Of My Tears by Smokey and The Miracles has been streamed on Spotify a staggering 129 million times!

Larry Buford and Smokey Robinson
Larry Buford and Smokey Robinson

Larry Buford is a contributing writer. Author of “Things Are Gettin’ Outta Hand” and “Book To The Future” (Amazon). Email: [email protected]

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