Thursday, April 5, 2012

ABC - "When Smokey Sings"

When Smokey Sings - Lexicon of Live

(Debuted July 4, 1987, Peaked #5, 19 Weeks on the Chart)

 The last time this blog took a swing through 1987, one of the songs featured was Smokey Robinson's hit "Just to See Her," which was his first pop hit in years. Smokey would be remembered as an influence in a song later that year by the British group ABC. The recognition was more than simply lip service, as group members Martin Frye and Mark White (who co-wrote the song) were fans of Northern Soul and Motown.

While the song predictably features a soul-influenced sound, it also spotlights the slick production and pop sheen that marks ABC's material. And listening to the song now, it reminds me of a line I misheard all those years ago: where the line went, "When Smokey sings, I hear violins"... I heard the latter part as "I hear violence," which made me wonder just what type of memory was brought up by "Ooh Baby Baby" and "Tracks of My Tears" that brought about such a reaction.

During the period where "When Smokey Sings" was making its way onto the pop chart, Robinson was there also, with his single "One Heartbeat." In fact, both songs were in the Top 10 at the same time. It was one of the few times a tribute song was a hit when the honoree was present as well.

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