Title: Shop Around (Detroit Version)
Artist: The Miracles
Album: Hi...We're the Miracles
When I was in Detroit two summers ago, I stopped by the original Motown Studios and was treated to a great tour of the historic house where Berry Gordy set about building his R'n'B empire. What I learned (or had forgotten) was just how much influence Smokey Robinson had on Berry and Motown's success. Robinson was actually the vice president of the company as well as a chief songwriter and producer for many of the recording artists at Motown.
If he doesn't get enough credit for his contribution to Motown, it's probably his own fault for commanding so much attention as a singer for The Miracles. The guy has such an amazing voice, it seems fair to write him off as only a song stylist or interpreter. This regional version of the hit record that would put Motown on the national map by landing at #2 on the pop charts has a slightly slower tempo affording Robinson a little more room to exercise his talents for bluesy vocal inflections. It's a rawer recording that I had never heard before and, despite what I think is an awkward edit right before the sax solo, I think it's better than the hit we all know.
If you don't want to hear that guy talk, skip to 0:51. :)