musicology #374

Modernist #2

(The Miracles – Way Over There)

Today I would like to take the opportunity and quote from a top ranking piece of critique on the subject of Modernist by a Cat named Johnny Spencer who lived through as well as observed the changing face of London during the early Sixties.

“In London during the early sixties as in other parts of the British Isles a tiny minority of young, (mostly working class), boys and girls known only to themselves as ‘Modernists’ were walking, talking, dressing and dancing to a different song. These youngsters who were conceived in the heady and delirious optimism that marked the end of WW II had passed onto them in their genes a very real sense of supremecy, invincibility and confidence, a confidence that was fuelled and underpinned by the meta narrative of the western world, the concept of modernity, then at it’s zenith. By the early 1960’s the social fabric of cities in England had changed radically from the period before 1945, the war had dealt attitudes of authority and deference a mortal blow, conscription had ended, and the young en masse for the first time found themselves with a realistic disposable income. With history on their side this generation of independently minded teenagers felt able to think and act for themselves, not in a quasi-intellectual way as the ‘beatnicks’ had done, or to have to rebel, like the ‘Teddy Boys’, but as a truly autonomous entity.”

The musicology is courtesy of modernist icons ‘The Miracles’, (Smokey Robinson, Bobby Rogers, Marv Tarplin, Ronald White and Claudette Rogers), whose unique and distinctive sound epitomised the emerging sound that became known as Soul. The cut that was BIG on the London scene was in fact the second version, (with strings), but in the essence of ‘Modernist’ I had to lay this, (regional) one, (without strings), on you. Recorded for and released in 1960 on Motown.


18 thoughts on “musicology #374

  1. This is THE song for me that catapults me back
    to those early heady days…Sunday 5pm at the
    Lyceum, finally getting to jive on that big empty
    floor to this fabulous music when the dj took over from the ‘big band’ that they still had as the main feature then!! it took the heads in charge of entertainment a little while to catch up with the fact that all us kids were up there for the american imports played by the dj.


  2. I know the name well, but couldn’t say if it was him at the Lyceum…I seem to remember there were two DJs of note at the time…


  3. The best rendition of this song is by The Temptations. In fact I have to say that both The Tempting Temptations and the young Jackson 5 (with Mike Jackson on lead doing the Smokey parts) performed Smokey songs far better than the Smoke man did himself in many many cases!

    Almost forgot to say that in the Temptations versions of Smokey songs, of course, the great Eddie Kendricks take the lead with the smoothest tenor voice Motown ever had IMHO.
    Ok I am through now. I just really love the Tempts version of this song!


    1. Sondan,
      Each to their own although for me Smokey singing Smokey is incontestable.
      nice to see you on themusicologist
      thanks for the comment and support


  4. Hi Mr. M.,

    No problem. It would be a very dull world if we all thought alike. What counts is that we are keeping this great music alive!

    Now that being said, and me being so hardheaded, I must say that if you haven’t heard it yet you just gotta listen to the Tempts sing “Way Over There” and then tell me what you think of it. (SMILE)

    Also I want to add that no one in this entire universe can ever convince me that Mike Jackson (J5) singing “Who’s Loving You” is not better than composer Smokey and/or David Ruffin’s version. Even Smokey”s best friend Berry Gordy publicly admited that Mike’s version was the best! And for once I agree with Mr. Gordy. (LOL)

    Musically Yours,


    1. SonDan,
      Too true..
      I suppose part of my reasoning is that I have never been a fan of Michael Jackson’s voice. If I thought about it certain voices, (no matter how technically good), for me seem to lack authenticity and Michael Jackson’s is one of those. I have always been a fan of those singers who in the words of Tommy Dorsey but sung by Mahalia Jackson, (musicology #186) “Live the life I sing about in my songs”.

      musically yours in reply


  5. You forgot to name one of The Miracles…Bass singer Pete Moore. Also , people have been comparing The Miracles with The Temptations, it seems , forever. Tempts fans will always say that their favorite group is better …they have better dance steps and multiple lead singers, etc,etc….BUT, for all of their bluster , they can’t deny one indisputable fact: THE TEMPTATIONS DIDN’T WRITE ANYTHING. Most of their greatest records were written by: ROBINSON, ROGERS MOORE, WHITE AND TARPLIN . 3 guesses who THEY ARE.

    In point of fact , whether Tempts fans are willing to admit it , or not, The Temptations , (and their fans), owe The Miracles a GREAT DEBT… since most of their greatest hits, album cuts , and flip sides were written by them. Every time you sing MY GIRL, THE WAY YOU DO THE THINGS YOU DO, GET READY, SINCE I LOST MY BABY, DON’T LOOK BACK, I’LL BE IN TROUBLE, MY BABY, IT’S GROWING, YOU’LL LOOSE A PRECIOUS LOVE, OR YOU’VE GOT TO EARN IT, you’re singing songs written by members of The MIRACLES.

    Think about that the next time you do you’re Miracles -bashing.


    1. thanks for entering the dialogue..
      as far as I’m concerned there is no comparing the Miracles to the Temptations. Strange to imagine that there are fans who are in dispute. The Miracles were Soul vanguards. Must add that I have never heard of anyone doing any Miracles bashing…who are they?


  6. Just go to YouTube and enter some of the titles to the Miracles’ songs . There are several comments by Temptations fans bashing the group, saying that The Temptations are better, i.e. “they are better singers, better dancers , have multiple leads , while The Miracles have only one, etc,etc,etc. You, however, are correct. There is indeed , no comparision. The Miracles are head and shoulders over The Temptations in numerous ways.
    Several years ago, I went to the” Wikipedia” site, and looked up “The Miracles” . Being a longtime Miracles fan,(all of my life, in fact) , I was well familiar with this group’s importance, and of their numerous accomplishments in the music industry, so I was, frankly, appalled at what little historical and biographical information there was on the group. For example,there were only 7 articles on Miracles songs listed , no biographical info on Miracles Marv Tarplin and Billy Griffin at all,very little on Miracle Pete Moore, and very little info on the group’s towering importance in musical history. No info on the fact that The Miracles , for example , were:

    1. Multiple Grammy Hall Of Fame Inductees (The Miracles have more Grammy Hall of Fame inducted songs than any other Motown group, more even than The Supremes and Temptations) .
    2. Inductees into the Vocal Group Hall Of Fame and The Doo-Wop Hall of Fame
    3. Multiple winners of the BMI Songwriters’ Award
    4.Listed on ALL 3 LISTS of The 100 Greatest Artists Of All Time: Billboards’ Rolling Stones’
    and VH-1’s
    5. Actually did a Royal Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth in 1968
    6 Had one song, “The Tracks Of My Tears”, actually entered by The United States Library Of Congress into the National Recording Registry.
    7. had no less the 3 songs listed on Rolling Stone’s list og The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
    8 . Were the Motown Label’s vanguard act ,their first and most important act , and the artists that opened the doors for every Motown act that followed them.
    9. Had 3 songs on The Rock And Roll Of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.
    (They had honored the SONGS but had blacklisted the GROUP that sang them, still having not inducted the Miracles to this very day, some 22 years later !!
    10) Are FAR and AWAY, the MOST COVERED MOTOWN ACT OF ALL TIME , with more that 50 of their songs covered by literally HUNDREDS of other artists , in every major music genre, POP, COUNTRY, MOR, REGGAE, BLUEGRASS, JAZZ, ROCK,RAP/HIP-HOP, and SOUL/R&B.

    These, and numerous other facts were omitted , or , their editors simply didn’t bother to do research to see what this group HAD done in their incredible career.

    So, I began doing research, and making additions. I also started to write more articles on Miracles songs, fleshing out the group’s main article, and adding more biographical info.
    Today, if you go to “The Miracles” in Wikipedia, about 70% of what you read there was conrtibuted by me.
    You are correct . Although The Temptations do continue to recieve more credit than The Miracles to this very day, and Miracles bashing by Temptations fans continues…there is NO COMPARISION between the two groups.

    One Temptations fan had even gone so far as to go into Wikipedia’s “Grammy Hall Of Fame site (where all of the inducted songs are listed), and actually REMOVED two of The Miracles’ inducted songs , so it would look like The Miracles had an equal number of inducted songs as the Temptations (only 2).

    Trust me….I’ve seen it.


  7. On March 20th, 2009 ,I was in Hollywood , to see The Miracles recieve their long-overdue star on the HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME. Brought my cam-corder and got the whole ceremony on tape, too. Very exciting. I was very happy for the group….they certainly deserved to get this star…should have gotten it YEARS AGO.

    Today, in Wikipedia there are separate articles on 42 Miracles listed. I wrote all of them except for perhaps 10.
    They are STILL not inducted into the ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME as of 2010…despite the fact that Rolling Stone Magazine publisher and RRHOF chairman Jann Wenner has listed them in his magazine as one of the Top 50 Immortals: the 50 Greatest Artists Of All Time…still another list where The Miracles are ranked higher than fellow Motown artists The Temptations, Supremes , Gladys Knight & The Pips, Martha and The Vandellas ,and The Four Tops…but all of these Motown acts have been inducted into the RRHOF.

    Why aren’t The Miracles inducted ??


    1. Bill,
      In my experience It’s often the trailblazers that get overlooked when the plaudits are being handed out. personally I think the birth of Soul, (1959-1962) doesn’t get much recognition from the mainstream press. No doubt that the Miracles were the foundation stone on which Tamla was built. I am a BIG fan of both the Miracles and the period, (1958-1963), where Soul was born. As for why the Miracles arent inducted into the hall of fame I have no idea but to be honest I take no notice of the mainstream music industry at all. I know that the authority lies with those who love the music and I am sure the Miracles are honoured by us.


  8. 2012: THE MIRACLES have FINALLY inducted into the ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME !!! Congratulations to Miracles CLAUDETTE ROBINSON, PETE MOORE,BOBBY ROGERS, SMOKEY ROBINSON (inducted 1987) , and to the memories of RONNIE WHITE and MARV TARPLIN (who passed away just 7 months prior to his induction.

    See The Miracles’ 2012 Pre-Induction Party in Cleveland at THIS LINK :


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