If you want to break down the Motown era, it may go roughly like this. Its rapid ascent in the early 1960s belonged to William "Smokey" Robinson, who was the lead singer of The Miracles, label owner Berry Gordy's right-hand man in artist and repertoire development, and the songwriter for incandescent singles like The Temptations' "My Girl," Mary Wells' "Two Lovers" and so many others. Motown's dominance on the pop charts in the mid- to late '60s was aided by Holland-Dozier-Holland (who wrote all those Supremes hits), "psychedelic soul" pioneer Norman Whitfield … and Smokey, who chipped in with gems like The Miracles' "The Tears of a Clown."
When the label relocated to Los Angeles in 1971 as Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder ushered in the age of the black musical visionary, Smokey created A Quiet Storm, the album that signified a new age of mature, balladic soul. This playlist covers all eras of Smokey's songwriting canon as well as hit covers of his songs by others, including Linda Ronstadt's "Ooh Baby Baby," Japan's "I Second That Emotion" and The English Beat's "The Tears of a Clown."