*Smokey Robinson is back and bringing some friends along for his latest CD, “Smokey & Friends,” out Tuesday.
The album pairs the legendary singer-songwriter with the likes of Elton John, Mary J. Blige, James Taylor, CeeLo Green, Miguel, John Legend, Steven Tyler and more.
Each guest artist picked a favorite song written by Robinson to re-record with the crooner. Blige chose “Being With You,” Elton John selected “The Tracks of My Tears,” Tyler chose “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” and Legend chose “Quiet Storm.”
Robinson, who is on a tour across the U.S., gave more details about those particular recordings to The Associated Press:
On “Smokey & Friends,” Robinson sang “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” in-studio with longtime friend Steven Tyler, while the other tracks were pieced together electronically from separate recording sessions.
Elton John, a Robinson friend for three decades, chose “The Tracks of My Tears,” first recorded by the Miracles in 1965.
“When we’re around each other, we have a great time. Neither one of us is from affluency,” Robinson said of Elson John. “So when you come up like that and your dream is to be in show business or to sing or play and you get the chance to really do it and earn your living, and it’s your life – it’s a wonderful thing.”
Meanwhile, Robinson heard John Legend cover his song “Quiet Storm” in concert and told the 35-year-old soul crooner backstage that he should record a version of it.
“I look at people like John and I know that the future of show business is in good hands,” Robinson said. The two join up on a new version of the tune, which in 1975 marked Robinson’s return to the industry after a brief hiatus.
“I’m very close to that song,” he said. “It became a radio format and there are `quiet storm’ stations all over the country now.”
Robinson says he’s been watching and listening to Mary J. Blige since she debuted in 1992 as the “queen of hip-hop soul.”
“Mary has done a metamorphosis from when I first met her,” he said. “She came from having the image of the hip-hop world into what she has now. And that’s a whole other vision of her. … She’s very spiritual. And she’s one of the greatest singers ever.”
On the duets album, Blige sings “Being With You,” first recorded by Robinson in 1981 on his solo album of the same name.