(May 1, 2023). The legendary Motown crooner and former executive vice president Smokey Robinson has released a new album—his first studio LP in 14 years—titled Gasms.
No, not those ‘gasms, folks.
“Eyegasms” and “eargasms”—the kind you get when you’re excited just to see or hear someone that you find attractive nearby. You know the kind Smokey may have been (more subtly) singing about in his 1987 hit “Just To See Her.”
And “mind gasms,” the kind you achieve just thinking about that same person.
Okay, and maybe those other ‘gasms, too. Or what Smokey refers to in the title track as “gasm gasms.”
At least that’s what the former leader of the legendary group The Miracles and one of the greatest songwriters of all time wants you to interpret for yourself when you listen to his new album, Gasms, a bedroom burner released to streaming and digital services everywhere on Friday, April 28.
True to the album’s name, and beginning with the opening title track (where the word “gasm” is heard nearly as many times as Smokey has years on this planet), every one of the nine songs on Gasms has something to do with the events leading to, during, or following one’s achievement of ‘gasms.
Smokey’s nothing if he’s not consistent…or, in the case of Gasms, persistent.
Oh, and for anyone who’s wondering whether age has anything to do with one’s ability to even think about that kind of ‘gasms, Smokey is here to remind you that he may be 83 in earthly years, but he feels as good as he did when he was 40 and, according to a recent interview with the L.A. Times, still does all the same things he did then—and that includes not just swinging a golf club (which he also fancies).
Incidentally, Robinson turned 40 in February 1980 while his classic single “Cruisin’” was near the top of the charts.
Okay, maybe in some perverted way of thinking, even the title “Cruisin’” could be interpreted smuttily in some cultural contexts.
But our Smokey Robinson didn’t mean “Cruisin’” that way, at least not the 1979/80 version of Smokey. And if he did, he certainly disguised it well enough with all those sweet metaphors about “flying away” and “inch by inch getting closer” and “laying there inside you and loving you.”
Oh wait, even that Smokey was soft-core salacious, on closer examination. Any doubts should have been removed on his next 1980 single, “Let Me Be The Clock,” where the falsetto-voiced icon sang about being the “pendulum that strikes your chime…for the first time.”
I think it’s safe to say 40-year-old Smokey didn’t have your great aunt’s grandfather clock in mind when he wrote that one. One only wonders what he could have done with metaphors about the clock’s hands.
But the 2023 version of Smokey is apparently even more grown up than that earlier one. The 83-year-old Smokey obviously has been bitten by that millennial bug, you know the same one that made twerking a thing two decades ago and the one that sapped every bit of subtlety out of today’s love songs.
Just check out some of these song titles from the Gasms album: “Roll Around,” “You Fill Me Up,” “I Wanna Know Your Body.”
Think those look innocent enough? Check out these lines from the opening verse of “I Wanna Know Your Body”:
“I wanna sing about it (your body, that is) in a sweet love song, clever words I wanna write.
I wanna make the music all night long, while I’m hoping you’re tight”
But to remove any concerns about his and his partner’s physiological compatibility, the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame inductee later wants his love interest to know “I Fit In There” on the album’s closing track.
Where exactly, Smokey?
Well, that’s when metaphor and innuendo make an attempt at a comeback on Gasms.
“If empty fills up your private place, and nothing and no one can penetrate. If you got an inner vacancy, oh baby then make it a place for me. I fit in there.”
Oh, so maybe it’s her life Smokey was referring to? And just so no one’s confused about his intentions, he adds:
“If you don’t wanna be in love, can we be in ‘heavy like’?”
Actually, that one is kinda clever.
And, in fact, the whole album is pretty good, sonically speaking. Smokey’s singing voice obviously has a heavier tone than it did 40-plus years ago (what 83-year-old’s doesn’t? For that matter, how many 83-year-olds are still even releasing albums?).
But it (his voice) is still in good form and even has some of those falsetto and vibrato flourishes that made him famous on songs like “Ooh, Baby Baby,” “The Tracks of My Tears,” “The Tears of a Clown,” “Quiet Storm” and “Being With You.”
And kudos to Smokey for not following the recent trend of releasing albums with 30-plus tracks on them (see the latest by country’s Morgan Wallen and rap’s YoungBoy Never Broke Again). Nine new songs are just about right from a singer who’s recorded hundreds in the past.
Smokey Robinson has not been known for displaying anything that resembles attention-seeking behavior in his long, illustrious career. Anyone who hasn’t released an album in 14 years and rarely makes public appearances can’t be rightfully accused of that.
And he certainly has nothing left to prove in a legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career that spans seven decades and countless classic songs he’s written for himself or others during that time.
But he wants your attention now; he said as much in interviews previewing the release of Gasms. He got that attention when he recently admitted to having an extramarital affair with Diana Ross back when she was a rising Motown star in the early 1960s, an admission that instantly outed Diana as having slept with both the President and Vice President of the company as her career flourished.
And now he’s singing about those ‘gasms.
Hey, if 81-year-olds can be leaders of the free world, then Smokey’s Gasms is a reminder that there’s a generation of pre-baby boomers out there who can still achieve, umm, other things as well.
One thing’s for sure, you won’t be so fast to put Smokey out to pasture after hearing Gasms, and it’ll make you rethink the virility of octogenarians all over the world.
As the British group ABC once noted during the 1980s, when Smokey sang back then, we heard violins.
The legendary crooner wants you to know today that when he sings about Gasms, the neighbors hear something else.
DJRob (he/him/his), who fancies the ‘Quiet Storm’ version of Smokey, is a freelance music blogger from somewhere on the East Coast who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop and rock genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff! You can follow him on Twitter at @djrobblog.
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2 thoughts on “C’mon Smokey, not the ‘Gasms’! Legendary crooner recasts octogenarians everywhere with latest album.”
First off I like it! Next; in my mind I can see Smokey and Berry Gordy sitting in a den sipping Courvoisier talking about their exploits as men. This is that kind of music. Cruising and Quiet Storm are my favorites as chill music, so this is a welcome plus to all that have been listening to. “cruise with me baby”🎼
Yeah, it’s actually not a bad album. I think it’s interesting given his advanced age.