1957-1972 (1972) is arguably a misleading title for this nearly hour-long live package featuring the final run of concert appearances from the Miracles with Smokey Robinson as frontman. While the music in the program does span the combo's entire career (1957-1972), the actual performances took place July 14-16, 1972 as part of the festivities surrounding the United States National Parks Centennial in Washington D.C. The Carter Barron Amphitheater was brimming with ecstatic enthusiasts when the vocalists hit the stage, supported not only by their standard ensemble of Ed Pickens (bass), Marvin Tarplin (guitar) and James Allen (drums), but also an extended orchestra under the direction of Armand Sarro. Proving just how concurrently popular the Miracles were, their opening chart-topper "Tears of a Clown" is immediately backed with their most recent R&B/pop crossover "I Don't Blame You at All," their last with Robinson. The undeniable heart and soul can be found in the clutch of meticulously re-created classics, including an energetic interpretation of "More Love," and a thoroughly excellent reading of Michael Jackson's smash "Got to Be There." Robinson presents his then-wife and original Miracle Claudette Robinson, who joins in for the latter half of the gig. Smokey's funny and slightly bawdy stage patter proved that he isn't taking his retirement from the band too seriously, even going so far as to introduce his replacement, Billy Griffin, to the audience. The cursory run through of "Shop Around," the doo wop inspired "Bad Girl," as well as the rowdy closer "Mickey's Monkey" and "Going to a Go Go" encore provide a deservingly spirited send-off for Smokey, as he began to pursue a solo career and a more hands-on role behind the scenes at Motown. In 2004, Hip-O Select issued Live Collection, assembling both 1957-1972 with their previous Live! (1969) album on a double-CD set.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer