City of Angels

The Miracles

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City of Angels Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Three albums after the departure of Smokey Robinson, the Miracles were performing respectably, chalking up a sizable hit in 1974 with the sexually charged “Do It Baby,” but they had no real blockbusters to their name until the sequined, spangled 1975 concept album City of Angels. As its title makes plain, this is a record about Los Angeles in the mid-‘70s, a place where everybody is on the prowl and there ain’t nobody straight. Such gay-friendly sentiments were groundbreaking for 1975 but they weren’t exactly uncommon in the days of disco, an era this album evokes effortlessly with its pounding four-four beats and swishing sheets of polyester strings. A large part of the appeal of City of Angels is as a period piece, how the album vacillates between the syrupy satin of the title track and the TV-theme disco of “My Name Is Michael,” peaking with the go-go good times of “Love Machine,” the single that gave the Miracles their biggest hit in the post-Smokey era. Like City of Angels, “Love Machine” is a quintessential slice of ‘70s glitz, and if the rest of the album lacks a single song as galvanizing as that anthem, it captures its time and place in a way few records ever do. [Hip-O Select’s 2010 reissue contains an instrumental version of “Love Machine” as a bonus track.]

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