Smokey Robinson is partnering with an all-star slate of guests — including Elton John and James Taylor — for “Smokey & Friends.” Verve Records will release the duets album this September.
Helmed by music producer and “American Idol” mentor Randy Jackson, the project draws from Robinson’s extensive catalog of hits as a member of the legendary Miracles, as a solo artist and as the writer of classics the Motown icon penned for other acts, including Marvin Gaye and the Temptations.
Elton John and James Taylor will harmonize with Robinson on two songs originally released in 1965. John joins the prolific singer/songwriter on “The Tracks of My Tears,” which John calls “the greatest pop song ever written.” Inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and the Library of Congress, the single peaked at No. 2 R&B and No. 16 pop.
As a teenager collecting soul records, John recalls he was awed by Robinson’s “most amazing voice” and lyrics that were “so great and direct; so simple and heartfelt. I think Bob Dylan described him as America’s greatest poet. He [Robinson] says things in five words that people take a whole page to say.”
“Elton’s comments about ‘Tracks of My Tears’ is a huge compliment,” says Robinson, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. “My dream and my aim as a songwriter is fulfilled with statements like that, especially by someone like Elton who is a great songwriter himself.”
Taylor guests on the Gaye signature hit “Ain’t That Peculiar.” The R&B and pop classic was produced by Robinson, who also co-wrote the song with fellow members of the Miracles. Additional “Smokey & Friends” collaborations featuring contemporary and classic artists will be announced soon. The album is available for pre-order here.