Which version is better? Smokey Robinson, or the Beatles? Vote now!
This is the second installment of the series which pits two excellent versions of a song against one another. Which will triumph as the better version? You decide, good people.
This week, it’s Smokey Robinson’s “ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn’t have fallen in love with” classic, “You Really Got a Hold on Me”.
This is the original version, released as a single in November 1962, featuring Smokey’s keening tenor falsetto. Here, Smokey sounds like a little kid, in love for the first time, and yet knowing that love means a lot of pain. Yet, because it is Smokey singing, it can’t sound anything less than joyous. This is a pure Motown sugar-rush, yet with a dark undercurrent (also a characteristic of a lot of Motown singles), that outlines that love is not always the safest of pursuits. You can find this version on the recent Smokey Robinson & the Miracles compilation The Ultimate Collection.
The Beatles loved Motown, and took this tune to their hearts when they recorded it for their second album With the Beatles, released in 1963. John Lennon’s voice is raspier and more raucous than Smokey’s smooth as silk original, with a hint of desparation behind it that serves the material well. George Harrison’s backing vocal is a shadowy response to Lennon’s call, which helps to capture that same undercurrent of darkness to an otherwise joyous delivery.
So, which is it to be? Smokey or the Fabs? Or is it some other version? The Zombies did a good one. So did Percy Sledge, M Ward, and many others. Vote now, good people!