The Miracles

I'll Try Something New

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The Miracles' second album embraced several different pop and soul idioms in the course of its ten songs with extraordinary aplomb, the group moving from strength to strength while also showing off Gordy's growing musical vocabulary. For the title track, Smokey Robinson's ethereal lead vocal is surrounded by an exquisite chorus (with Claudette, in particular, providing some beautiful effects and a gently comical allusion to the Frankie Avalon song "Venus") and strings that Berry Gordy knew just when to thicken, for an emotional spike in the lyric. "What's So Good About Goodbye" mixed some ravishingly mournful lyrics and deeply emotive performances with a sound that gave equal play to hard electric guitars and a closely recorded violin section. "He Don't Care About Me" is a delightful showcase for Claudette Rogers Robinson in a girl-group mode. Those songs and the rest of side one are included on the 35th Anniversary box, but side two -- apart from "If Your Mother Only Knew" (the original B-side of "Way Over There") -- has been neglected, which is a shame, because that was the experimental side (truly the "something new" musically to which the LP title could have referred). The quintet's harmonizing soars into what would later become Manhattan Transfer territory in their version of Lerner and Loewe's "On the Street Where You Live," and they bring out equally dexterous and warmer sides of their singing on Cole Porter's "I've Got You Under My Skin"; they also engage in some delightful vocal acrobatics on the Ogden Nash-Kurt Weill "Speak Low."

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