When Bob Dylan called Smokey Robinson "America's greatest living poet," it may have appeared a disingenuous claim to some. Was Dylan talking through his hat again? Doubtful. What the bard was more than likely citing is Robinson's way with phrasing, the manner in which his gorgeous voice wraps itself around some of the finest R&B melodies of our time.
The resume is nigh on peerless. Two dozen Top 40 hits with the Miracles, dozens more as a writer and/or producer for other artists. Berry Gordy may have been the man who birthed Motown, but Smokey will forever be the voice associated with this greatest of R&B record labels.
Though he's never shied away from gospel music, nor made a secret of his beliefs, the recently released "Food for the Spirit" finds Robinson grabbing the bull by the horns and offering up his first full-on Christian gospel record. Even an atheist should be able to feel the power of the man's spirituality here. Robinson remains in fine voice, and his delivery is the very embodiment of soul.
Smokey Robinson plays at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday in the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort, 6380 Fallsview Blvd., Niagara Falls, Ont. Tickets are $44.50 to $59.50 (Canadian funds) and are available through (888) 836-8118.