Smokey Robinson

Being with You

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    6
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Back in the late '70s, Smokey Robinson made a great comeback with his 1979 hit "Cruisin'." With his broadened lyrical style and more knowing in his voice, the aesthetic powered such album classics as Where There's Smoke and Warm Thoughts. 1981's Being With You, in effect, ended the ride, but the hits more than continued. The single "Being With You" is a deft update of Robinson's '60s naïveté and is certainly a great pop record. The same can't be said for most of the tracks here. Handing over the production reigns to George Tobin, some of Robinson's quirks and musical trademarks are lost to polished and radio-friendly production. The songs aren't great here, either. The didactic and reggae-tinged "Food for Thought" just comes off silly. For the most part, Robinson doesn't offer much credible pure romance here. "As You Do," "Can't Fight Love," and "Who's Sad" all fail to make an impression. That's not true of the last track. The oddly affecting "I Hear the Children Crying" has him getting emotional, as his final note on the song seals the deal. Despite Robinson's paean to the "kids," his songwriting skills are a little off here. While a big hit is here and Robinson's in fine form, Being With You is a letdown in comparison to the two efforts before this.

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