The Miracles – “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” Pop #8, R&B #1
Another stone classic from the pen of Smokey Robinson. Counting his songs for Mary Wells, this is Robinson’s fourth No. 1 hit (his first song with Wells stalled at No. 2 on the R&B charts). The song was famously covered by the Beatles It continues to be popular today. Cyndi Lauper covered it in 2003 and it popped up earlier this year on actress Zooey Deschanel’s delightful album with M. Ward, “She and Him.”
It’s no surprise so many artists have been drawn to this song. The melody and backing vocal lines are strong and supportive enough that the lead singer doesn’t need a great voice to pull it off (check out Cher’s version with then-husband Gregg Allman for proof). On the other hand, good vocalists have plenty to make their own. British invasion bands loved it for the snakey guitar line that could cover missing piano and horn parts.
The Miracles have the whole package, though: Robinson’s great singing, the full complement of Motown’s Funk Brothers musician’s stable and Barry Gordy’s impeccable production. The crescendo peaks with Robinson playing off the Miracles and pleading with his woman to “hold me (please)/hold me (squeeze)/hoooold me.” This certainly wasn’t the first time backing vocalists had been used so effectively, but it is a great demonstration of the subtle creativity Robinson employed in arranging the song. It’s no wonder the Beatles were so anxious to pay tribute to their idol when they finally reached American shores a little over a year after this song was released. — By Joel Francis