Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Smokey Robinson & the Miracles: Anthology [Motown, 1995]
The hard truth that minor Miracles songs are just barely carried by the breathy faith and modest grit of Smokey's tenor is softened by the minor miracle of how diligently he nurtured the inspiration that put him on the charts at 18. Granting a few wonderful moments, this gets going midway into disc one, with 1963's "You've Really Got a Hold on Me," my nomination for the best thing he ever recorded. It rolls through 1967's "I Second That Emotion" and then starts wandering--wandering attractively, intelligently, imaginatively, professionally, but with only "Tears of a Clown" (and its follow-up, the graciously sarcastic "I Don't Blame You at All") worthy of serious payola. A-