Plutonic Group Syncs :: When Smokey Sings by ABC (1987)

When Smokey Sings

⊜ When Smokey Sings ⊜



We are proud to represent the iconic track, ‘When Smokey Sings‘ for sync licensing opportunities. This is the original recording of the ABC hit single with the band controlling the master rights.

The time for a new ABC album came about in 1987. Time for another change in musical style, as well.  But this time around ABC returned to an element that provided a strong undercurrent on ‘The Lexicon Of Love’ – soul. More particularly, facets of Motown brand soul, and British based ‘Northern soul’.

Within weeks from its release in May ’87 the lead out single ‘When Smokey Sings’, surged up the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. The brilliantly crafted track an unabashed homage to the legendary Smokey Robinson, and Motown soul in general.

It combined the finest elements of ABC’s pop-savvy melodies, sleek and stylish production values, and Fry’s impassioned vocal delivery.

Returning to the Motown and Northern soul that provided the basis of their debut album, ABC turned to the pop songcraft on their fifth album, Alphabet City.

On this album, Fry’s delivery, counterpoised by compelling rhythms, clearly shows the production influence of Bernard Edwards. Edwards, formerly of Chic, fortifies ABC’s bottom, mostly by laying down the brawniest bass lines on a record that year.

If it weren’t for the synthesizers, Alphabet City could pass for disco, but this was 1987, so we have to call it dance music. And because this is ABC, it is extravagantly lush dance music. The concoction works well. ‘When Smokey Sings‘, a tribute to Smokey Robinson, borrows the romping baritone sax riff of ‘Tears of a Clown’.

Done in a pop/funk style, with pounding drums and gliding Fairlight strings, Alphabet City returned ABC to the charts. ‘When Smokey Sings’ deservedly became ABC’s biggest selling single in the U.S. (#5) and re-established the band’s profile at home (UK#11/OZ#25).

Once more, ABC’s collective finger stood on the pulse of popular music vogue, with Northern soul enjoying a resurgence during 1987; thanks also to the likes of the Kane Gang, Deacon Blue, Simply Red, and The Style Council.

Sleek, stylish, and thoroughly entertaining ‘When Smokey Sings‘ is a bit of uplifting vintage pop with timeless vintage synths and electronic beats. On the whole Alphabet City surpasses any album by ABC since their 1982 debut, ‘Lexicon Of Love’.

Music from the days when life was still simple and exciting. Do you also smell the hairspray and the artificial mist?


RIYL: Soft Cell, Human League, Spandau Ballet