ARTIST: The Temptations
TITLE: Cloud Nine
YEAR RELEASED: 1969
CHART ACTION: #4 US, #1 R&B, #32 UK
SINGLES: Cloud Nine (#6 US, #2 R&B, #15 UK), Runaway Child, Running Wild (#6 US, #1 R&B)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I Heard It Through the Grapevine
LINEUP: Dennis Edwards, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, Otis Williams. Norman Whitfield produced and used Motown’s best funk players.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Psychedelic soul is born as a reaction to Sly & the Family Stone’s successful mix of genres.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The leader of the group, Otis Williams, thought Sly Stone had something with funky production and multiple lead singers, so he pitched the idea to Norman Whitfield that they should try something like that. Whitfield demurred at first, but when they did “Cloud Nine” in that style, a new Motown genre was born.
Utilizing the lead vocal strengths of Dennis Edwards, Eddie Kendricks’ falsetto, and Melvin Franklin’s deep and powerful bass, the Temptations had the vocal chops to pull it off. Whitfield’s production and musicians definitely incorporated the funk and the fuzz, distortion and swirls of psychedelic music. The result was some brilliant work, with some cuts being long workouts (the LP version of “Runaway Child, Running Wild” is over 9 ½ minutes long).
The second side seems more traditional. The songs are nice, but the arrangements aren’t as exciting. Still side one is pretty revolutionary for Motown.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Eight of the ten tracks were from the pens of Barrett Strong and Whitfield as writing partners.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.
GRADE: B+: Had Side Two not been as ‘traditional’, it would have definitely been a higher grade.