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Rockin' Remnants

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Date: 5/13/23

Host:  John Simon

Feature - Where There's Smoke: The Words and Music of Smokey Robinson

Tonight on Rockin' Remnants: a spotlight on Smokey Robinson the composer and producer (and not so much the singer), along with a little bit of Mother's Day fun, a loaded birthday calendar and your requests. 6-9pm Eastern time at 93.5 locally and streaming at wvbr dot com everywhere else in the world. Ooh Baby!


 (scroll down to find a glossary of terms)





·      YouTube links follow certain entries

·      songs with * were requests

·      all chart information comes from the Billboard Top 100 (for chart dates before/during July 1958) or Billboard Hot 100 (for chart dates during/after Aug 1958) unless otherwise noted

·      a glossary of terms is below the playlist







OPENING THEME:  Good Old Rock ‘n’ Roll – Cat Mother & the All-Night Newsboys (1969, #29, produced by Jimi Hendrix)


Since I Lost My Baby - Temptations (7/65; #17 Pop, #4 R&B - Smokey was the hottest producer and writer at Motown at the time, and the Temptations were still riding high on his magnificent My Girl. Within a year, though, they'd begin working with Norman Whitfield & Eddie Holland, and their creative partnership with Smokey would end.)

Smokey Robinson And The Temps by Michael Ochs Archives


My Smile Is Just a Frown (Turned Upside Down) - Carolyn Crawford (2/65; #39 R&B - one of Smokey's favorite tropes was of the clown who appears to be laughing on the outside while crying on the inside. This is one of at least two of his songs which actually name-dropped Pagliacci, and was Ms. Crawford's only charting single for the label.)


You Really Got a Hold On Me - The Beatles (1963; NR - The British Invasion was largely beholden to the American R&B and Rockabilly acts who cut the original records that the bands were covering. This album track generated enough royalty income for Smokey to never have to work again, yet it's a tiny footnote in his career.)

The Beatles - The Beatles' Second Album Lyrics and Tracklist | Genius


Tracks of My Tears - Johnny Rivers (6/67; #10 - Johnny built a career as a cover artist, and his previous hit was a cover of the Four Tops' Baby I Need Your Lovin'. These both featured Darlene Love and The Blossoms on background vocals, over a musical bed from LA's famed Wrecking Crew. Tonight you hear the hard-to-find mono version.)


As Long As There Is L-O-V-E - Jimmy Ruffin (1/66; #120 Pop - this was Jimmy's first release for the Motown family and it didn't even dent the R&B chart, but the poetry is pure Smokey and this one gives us a head start on this week's Birthday Calendar, as you'll soon see.)


You Beat Me to the Punch - Mary Wells (9/62; #9 Pop, #1 R&B - Mary Wells - also on this week's birthday calendar - was the perfect vehicle for Smokey's writing and production skills. This is one of seven consecutive Top Ten R&B hits they collaborated on, and three of them were #1s.)

mary wells you beat me to the punch, You Beat Me The Punch - Stereo Version  - song and by Mary Wells | Spotify -


You Threw a Lucky Punch - Gene Chandler (11/62; #49 Pop, #25 R&B - "The Duke of Earl" rushed into the studio to capitalize on Mary Wells' success with this answer record. Writing credit went to Smokey and songwriting partner Robert White, plus Don Covay who had the bright idea in the first place.)


One More Heartache - Marvin Gaye (2/66; #29 Pop, #4 R&B - Marvin Gaye worked with a number of producers over the years and had great success with Smokey in the early days. Smokey would later name Marvin as one of HIS favorite writers, so the respect was mutual.)

Listen to "The Enduring Gifts of Marvin Gaye Podcast" FREE on Spotify,  Itunes & many more! | Marvin gaye, Motown singers, Marvin


Ooh Baby Baby - Linda Ronstadt (11/78; #7 - Linda Ronstadt was the biggest female star in America at this point, and had impeccable taste in material. It's telling that she chose to release two of Smokey's compositions as singles, and that they both reached the Top 25.)


Tears of a Clown - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles (12/70; #1 for two weeks - our sneak preview of the birthday calendar continues with this surprise hit. Stevie Wonder had composed the music and given it to Smokey, who added lyrics and recorded it it as an album track three years earlier. It wasn't until a British DJ started playing it that Motown released it as a single, and it became the group's biggest hit.)

The Tears of a Clown / Promise Me by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles  (Single, Motown Sound): Reviews, Ratings, Credits, Song list - Rate Your  Music


* Eighteen - Alice Cooper (2/71; #21 - two years ago this very weekend, listener George called in a request for 16 Candles as a dedication to his granddaughter Kaia on her sixteenth birthday. Well....guess who's suddenly 18 years old? Look out, world!)


* Mama Said - Shirelles (4/61; #4 - it's Mother's Day weekend and two different people asked for this one. It kicks off a triple-shot of motherly advice tunes, and one of them just happens to be written by Smokey Robinson!)


Mama Didn't Lie - Jan Bradley (1/63; #14 - the fidelity is downright awful on this recording, but the sentiment rings true. In fact, it was written by another brilliant writer/producer: Curtis Mayfield, himself. He might just be in the spotlight on a future show.....)

Jan Bradley | PopBopRocktilUDrop


* Shop Around - The Miracles (12/60; #2 Pop, #1 R&B for eight weeks - this is the record that prompted Berry Gordy to name Smokey a vice president at Motown Records. It was the label's first million-seller, as well as their first single to reach the Top 5 on the Pop chart. It was also the second version released by the label, after Berry Gordy had the label pull the current version to be rerecorded. By the way: we often cite the RS500 list of the 500 greatest singles of all-time. This record is the answer to the question "Which record is #500?")






 Birthday Calendar



May 7 – Jimmy Ruffin – born 1940

            – Keith – age 74


May 8 – Rick Nelson – born 1940

            – John Fred – born 1941


May 9 – Tommy Roe – age 81

            – Richie Furay (Poco) – age 79

            – Billy Joel – age 74

            – Dave Prater (Sam & Dave) – born 1937

May 10 – Donovan – age 77

            – Dave Mason (Traffic) – age 77

            – Graham Gouldman – age 77

            – Arthur Alexander – born in 1940

            – Larry Williams – born 1935



May 11 – Eric Burdon (Animals) – age 82


May 12 – Burt Bacharach – born in 1928

            – James Purify – age 79

            – Steve Winwood – age 75


May 13 – Steve Wonder – age 73

            – Mary Wells – born in 1943

            – Ritchie Valens – born in 1941




I Can't Go Wrong - Keith (7/68; dnc - the Philadelphia native released four charting singles between Sept. of 1966 and November of 1967, but the hits dried up before this one was ever pressed. It's a shame, because it's a great record.)

Vinyl Album - Keith - 98.6 / Ain't Gonna Lie - Mercury - UK  45cat - Keith - I Can't Go Wrong / There's Always Tomorrow - Mercury - USA  - 72824


Young World - Ricky Nelson (3/62; #5 - he was born in Teaneck but raised in LA, and grew up in front of America's television viewers on "The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet" show. Contrary to popular opinion at the time, he was more than just a beneficiary of nepotism: he was a soulful performer with excellent material and a great backing band, and would make music long after his sitcom days were over.)

Full Nelson: The Surprising Story of Ozzie and Harriet | The Saturday  Evening Post


Judy In Disguise (With Glasses) - John Fred & His Playboy Band (11/68; #1 for two weeks - he was a native of Baton Rouge with the tag of "Blue-eyed Soul Swamp Pop Rock 'n' Roller." This novelty record was blatantly derived from The Beatles Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds, and it ironically dethroned their Hello, Goodbye from the #1 slot.)


You Left the Water Running - Sam & Dave (7/69; NR - their output at Stax Records is well-documented as among the greatest Soul records around. Tonight we hear one that was recorded in Muscle Shoals during their Atlantic Records tenure and which was never released.)


Pearl - Tommy Roe (6/70; #50 - he started as a teen sensation, but he matured and evolved as he grew. This was co-written with Freddie Weller and the instrumentation was provided by the Wrecking Crew.)

Tommy Roe – Pearl (1970, Vinyl) - Discogs


A Good Feelin' To Know - Poco (7/72; #119 Cashbox - after the splintering of Buffalo Springfield, Richie Furay and Rusty Young went for more of a "Country" sound with Poco. This was their attempt at swinging back more toward the Rock side of the spectrum, and it got lots of FM radio airplay but not so much on Pop radio. Tonight we hear the full-length version with a cold ending!)


Catch the Wind - Donovan (5/65; #23 - the young Scotsman was tagged by the music press as "the next Dylan," and it put him in a very difficult position because they had very different styles and aspirations. That said, he became something of a phenomenon, and this was his first charting single here in The States.)

Donovan (Music) - TV Tropes  List of artists who have covered Bob Dylan songs - Wikipedia


Heart Full of Soul - Yardbirds (7/65; #9 - the band changed guitarists several times before Jimmy Page helped it morph into Led Zeppelin. One constant was songwriter Graham Gouldman, who wrote hits for both the Clapton and Jeff Beck versions of the band, along with the Hollies and the Hermits and others.)


Where Have You Been (All of My Life) - Arthur Alexander (5/62; #58 - his songs were recorded by The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and others, but he didn't even write this one: this was from the songwriting duo of Mann & Weil. Tonight we hear a hard-to-find stereo version.)

Where Have You Been (All of My Life) - song and lyrics by Arthur Alexander  | Spotify


Baby's Crazy (Marie, Marie) - Larry Williams (1958; NR - here's another rollicking Soul man who the British Invasion bands loved. The Beatles actually recorded two of his songs, but this one was buried in the Chess Records vaults for another 40 years and this is its debut on Rockin' Remnants!)


It's My Life - Animals (11/65; #23 - here's one of the greatest defiant teen anthems of them all, sung with utter conviction and swagger by a young and angry Welshman. He's suddenly 82 years old this week.)

The Animals | PopBopRocktilUDrop


Don't Make Me Over - Dionne Warwick (12/62; #21 Pop, #5 R&B - Burt Bacharach passed away three months ago at age 95, leaving behind a deep catalog of classic songs. This one features his favorite "vehicle" for his material, and is ironically a song he wrote for her after she stormed into his office early in her career, incensed that he'd been stringing her along with promises of making her a star and not just a demo singer. Her outburst was short and to the point: "Don't you make me over like that!" He composed it, gave it her, and it became the first of her 60+ charting records.)

Like losing a family member': Dionne Warwick on Burt Bacharach's passing |  WBGO


Nothing's Too Good for My Baby - Stevie Wonder (4/66; #20 Pop, #4 R&B - young Stevie had been tagged as "the 12-year old genius" when he signed with Motown. His early success is the stuff of legend, but the label almost dropped him when his voice began to change. He was all of 16 when he recorded this follow-up to his "comeback" record Uptight. It's nearly sixty years later and he's still a musical force!)

Little Stevie Wonder – The 12 Year Old Genius Recorded Live LP USED VG –  Hi-Voltage Records   

Stevie Wonder turns 70: 7 memorable moments in the music icon's life


Gimme Some Lovin' - Spencer Davis Group (12/66; #7 - speaking of 16-year old "Stevies," Steve Winwood was all of 16 when he wrote and sang - and played the organ - on this one. He'd go on to co-found Traffic, and later do a short stint with Blind Faith before embarking upon a hugely successful solo career. BTW - future band mate Dave Mason adds vocal and percussion support to this recording. He also had a birthday this week. Check out the stripped-down version in this video!)


Donna - Ritchie Valens (11/58; #2 for two weeks - young Ritchie Valenzuela was still in high school in LA when he recorded this song for his girlfriend. The B-side was none other than La Bamba, and he would later die in the plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. He was seventeen years old.)





* Walkin' in Rhythm - The Blackbyrds (2/75; #6 Pop, #4 R&B - this request goes out to both Brooktondale Peggy and to Scottie's mom Donna. It was a big crossover hit from the group formed at Howard University and inspired by trumpet professor Donald Byrd.)


* The Ballad of Billy the Kid - Billy Joel (1/74; NR - listener Barbara grew up in the next town over from Billy Joel, and this album track from his Piano Man LP about their slice of Long Island is a favorite of hers. We'll hear from Billy again in a little while, but the request line always wins!)

Billy Joel Piano Man Album Cover Classic Rock Music Merchandise Retro  Vintage 70s 80s Concert Tour Black Wood Framed Art Poster 14x20 -


Morning Glory - James & Bobby Purify (8/76; #27 UK - this one never charted here in the States, but session guitarist Reggie Young elevates it by several notches and it's one of my favorites. Happy Birthday to James Purify.)


He's Misstra Know-it-All - Stevie  Wonder (4/77; NR - this track from the "Innervisions" album was released as the B-side of Stevie's #1 hit Sir Duke, and is one of a slew of terrific tunes in his deep catalog. After releasing an LP every year since 1970, Stevie took a year off to work on the double LP "Songs from the Key of Life," finally giving other artists an opportunity to win the Album of The Year Grammy. 1976 recipient Paul Simon famously thanked Stevie for taking a year off! Meanwhile, who knows why they went back to the 1973 LP for this B-side??!?)

Stevie Wonder – He's Misstra Know-It-All Lyrics | Genius Lyrics   Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder (Album; Motown; ZD72131(2)):  Reviews, Ratings, Credits, Song list - Rate Your Music


Shop Around - Captain & Tennille (5/76; #4 - we drop back into our tribute to Smokey Robinson with this successful cover of his first really big hit  -  especially because it fits the Mother's Day theme, too. Tennille plays piano, "Captain" Darryl Dragon plays keyboards, bass and guitar, and Hal Blaine plays the drums here.)


More Love - Kim Carnes (5/80; #10 - this had been a #23 hit for The Miracles in the summer of 1967, but former New Christy Minstrel Kim Carnes took it to even greater heights thirteen years later. It was written to help console Smokey's then-wife Claudette, who had recently lost a child to a miscarriage. The Miracles' version made it #5 on the R&B chart.)

More Love - Song Lyrics and Music by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles  arranged by bagheera70 on Smule Social Singing app Smokey Robinson & The Miracles "More Love" Sheet Music PDF Notes, Chords |  Rock Score Piano, Vocal & Guitar (Right-Hand Melody) Download Printable.  SKU: 22058


I Second That Emotion - Japan (2/80; dnc - I found this one on an old Ronco LP in my collection: Breakout! 20 Roaring Hits from the British New Wave scene. Japan apparently hadn't yet officially "broken out" when this single was released in 1980, but it was re-released in 1982 and reached #9 on the UK chart. It doesn't come close to recapturing the energy of Smokey's version, but then who could?)


Early Mornin' Rain - Elvis Presley (2/72; NR - Gordon Lightfoot passed away back on May 1st and the tributes have been numerous, but this pairing of one of his early classic compositions and the incomparable Elvis Presley blew my mind. From the 1972 album Elvis Now, I give you this sublime musical gem.)

Elvis Now - Wikipedia Gordon Lightfoot – Early Morning Rain (1976, Vinyl) - Discogs


Hey Girl - Billy Joel (1997; NR - Billy Joel is a prolific songwriter, but he occasionally recorded a classic cover. This had originally been a big hit for Freddie Scott, but Billy does a beautiful job with it. From his third Greatest Hits album, here you have it!)


Palace Guard - Rick Nelson & The Stone Canyon Band (2/73; #65 - we heard from young Ricky Nelson in the 7:00 hour. This was his final charting single, and it never went very far - but his music kept evolving and growing, and it's beautiful recording. To help encourage radio airplay, the record label fudged the time stamp on the promo 45. Check it out!)

45cat - Rick Nelson And The Stone Canyon Band - Palace Guard (5:10) (Long  Version) / Palace Guard (Short Version) - MCA - USA - MCA-40001


A Whiter Shade of Pale - R.B. Greaves (12/70; #82 Pop - my plan to play a later Steve Winwood cut was thwarted by the late hour. Instead, I played most of this cool confection: Country/R&B singer RB Greaves cut a very tasty version of the Procol Harum tune. Happy Mother's Day to you and yours. See you next week!)

R.B. Greaves – Whiter Shade Of Pale (1970, Vinyl) - Discogs




CLOSING THEME:  Sleepwalk – Santo & Johnny (1959, #1 for two weeks)






Glossary of Terms:

dnc = did not chart

nr = not released as a single at the time

AC = Billboard’s chart for “Adult Contemporary” records

BB = Billboard Magazine, which publishes the Hot 100 chart (previously known as the Top 100), along with several other charts

Bubbling Under = songs that were ranked but fell below the top 100

C&W = Billboard’s chart for “Country & Western” records

R&B = Billboard’s chart for “Rhythm & Blues” records

RRHOF = Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

RS500 = Rolling Stone Magazine’s ranked list of the top 500 singles of all-time





Host Next Week (5/20/23):  JS and Gregory James with a spotlight called "The Long and the Short of It"




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