The Miracles

Love Machine: The 70's Collection

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For the Miracles, their time as an integral piece of the Motown hit machine (nearly a dozen years) ended when Smokey Robinson left for a solo career in 1972. Though the group still reached the R&B charts occasionally, and hit number one on the pop side in 1975 with "Love Machine," Motown afforded them fewer resources than they ever had, and without Smokey's production/songwriting juggernaut to drive them, the group suffered immeasurably. Love Machine: The '70s Collection compiles 18 tracks from the four-year period near the end of their career, including many songs that featured the songwriting input of members Billy Griffin and Pete Moore, plus the production work of Freddie Perren. With the notable exception of "Love Machine," the Miracles specialized in intimate soul ballads during the time; no less than four of them appear here from their first record without Smokey, 1973's Renaissance, led by the Marvin Gaye production "I Love You Secretly" and the chartbound "Don't Let It End ('Til You Let It Begin)." Looking back, it's easy to see why the Miracles didn't spend much time on the charts; despite great performances from some serious soul veterans, their songs were pedestrian and the productions never unique or catchy enough to turn heads. The group's new lead, Billy Griffin, possessed the heavenly falsetto that Miracles fans expected to hear at their concert dates, but he lacked the commanding personality and intense conviction of Smokey Robinson. One advantage this collection has over others focusing on the same period is the presence of "Spy for Brotherhood," recorded for Columbia instead of Motown and engendering a bit of controversy upon release (the FBI requested it be pulled from the airwaves, and many stations complied). Similar to Motown's volume on the Supremes in the '70s, Love Machine: The '70s Collection is a solid collection and worth hearing for fans of the '60s version of the group -- it distills an era that didn't produce much music of worth into a strong collection.

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