Tamla RecordsTamla T 54053 (B), December 1961

B-side of What’s So Good About Good Bye

(Written by Smokey Robinson)

BritainFontana H 384 (B) – February 1962

B-side of What’s So Good About Good Bye

(Released in the UK under license through Fontana Records)

Scan kindly provided by Gordon Frewin, reproduced by arrangement.  All label scans come from visitor contributions - if you'd like to send me a scan I don't have, please e-mail it to me at fosse8@gmail.com!Like the A-side What’s So Good About Good Bye, this is another Miracles song which flatters to deceive; ultimately there’s rather less going on here than first meets the ear.

What first meets the ear is, like the A-side, quite pleasing; the band sound more proficient, the vocals are good, there’s a slight sheen of MOR cheese glistening on the surface which does it little credit but on the whole it sounds rather pretty.

What it doesn’t sound like is a hit record, not for the end of 1961. Indeed, I don’t think I’d be exaggerating to say that for me this is the most forgettable of all the Miracles sides that had appeared so far.

(And I mean that word in its dictionary sense, rather than a lazy synonym for “worst” – I mean I find myself hard-pressed to even remember what this sounds like even half an hour after listening to it, something which hasn’t really happened so far with any of the Miracles’ other records. Even the crap ones – I Love Your Baby might be rubbish, but I can definitely remember the thing.)

So, yeah. This is a slick, smooth, horn-heavy bit of late-period doo-wop/R&B, surprisingly straightforward in structure, repetitive in the extreme – there’s almost no chorus at all to speak of, the song consisting of an endless rotation of verses, occasionally punctuated by a high tenor/falsetto vocal mini-bridge from Smokey Robinson, but otherwise there’s just nothing at all happening here to hold the interest.

The Miracles' third album, 'I'll Try Something New', on which this song features.On further reflection, actually, it’s quite similar in many respects to the only other Miracles side so far that comes close in terms of lack of substance, The Only One I Love, another arpeggio-driven downtempo B-side which featured Smokey trilling at the top of his range to break up the verses.

So, it’s quite pretty, but utterly pedestrian. Which (once again) isn’t to say it’s dreadful, it’s just… there, which is really not good enough by the rarified standards set by Miracles records.

Once more I find myself feeling as though I’ve been harsh, as though I’ve been judging Smokey Robinson’s music on a different scale to that of, say, Mickey Woods, whose one half-competent B-side, (They Call Me) Cupid, appears to have got a better review than this record, even though by most objective measurements you’d care to apply, it’s vastly inferior. The point is that Smokey’s “off days” are better than a lot of people’s “on” days, but to me that means I’m entitled to expect more than this.

(Truth be told, if I were picking out the best pop music of Motown’s 1961 release schedule, confronted with both this and the aforementioned Mickey Woods B-side, I wouldn’t spend my time listening to either record, because neither of them really “does it” for me; but this is more disappointing than the Woods record, because I know the Miracles were capable of so much more whereas Woods never seems to have been. This, for readers coming to the site late, is where I first decided I should start doling out marks out of ten, to be clearer about this sort of thing (well, that and to provoke debate…) even though the marks aren’t really meant to be relative, more an indication of how I was feeling about the records at that particular time. But this is a digression.)

So. I’ve Been Good To You. Sounds nice, not dismal by any means, couldn’t possibly tell you what it’s about, couldn’t sing it back to you right now if you paid me. This single’s A-side helped revive the Miracles’ commercial fortunes by pushing them back up into the higher reaches of the charts, but taking both sides into consideration, it has to rank as the weakest of all their singles to date.


* * * * * * * * * *
5 / 10

(I’ve had MY say, now it’s your turn. Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment, or click the thumbs at the bottom there. Dissent is encouraged!)


Motown Junkies has reviewed other Motown versions of this song:

You’re reading Motown Junkies, an attempt to review every Motown A- and B-side ever released. Click on the “previous” and “next” buttons below to go back and forth through the catalogue, or visit the Master Index for a full list of reviews so far.

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The Miracles
“What’s So Good About Goodbye”
The Twistin’ Kings
“Congo (Part 1)”