Category: The Temptations

The Temptations – Cloud Nine

ARTIST: The Temptations                   220px-1969-tempts-cloud9

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.

The Temptations – The Temptations Anthology

ARTIST: The Temptations 220px-Temptations_anthology_cover
TITLE: The Temptations Anthology
YEAR RELEASED: Compilation
CHART ACTION: #65 US, #5 US R&B (That was the first vinyl version released in 1973. They upgraded it twice since then…)
SINGLES: Top 10 US: My Girl (#1 US, #1 US R&B, #43 UK), Beauty Is Only Skin Deep (#3 US, #1 US R&B, #18 UK), (I Know) I’m Losing You (#8 US, #1 US R&B, #19 UK), All I Need (#8 US, #2 US R&B), You’re My Everything (#6 US, #3 US R&B, #26 UK), I Wish It Would Rain (#4 US, #1 US R&B, #45 UK), Cloud Nine (#6 US, #2 US R&B, #15 UK), I’m Gonna Make You Love Me (#2 US, #2 US R&B, #3 UK), Runaway Child, Running Wild (#6 US, #1 US R&B), I Can’t Get Next to You (#1 US, #1 US R&B, #13 UK), Psychedelic Shack (#7 US, #2 US R&B, #33 UK), Ball of Confusion (#3 US, #2 US R&B, #7 UK), Just My Imagination (#1 US, #1 US R&B, #8 UK), Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone (#1 US, #5 US R&B, #14 UK), Masterpiece (#7 US, #1 US R&B)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Believe it or not, these didn’t hit the Top 10: The Way You Do The Things You Do (#11 US, #1 US R&B), Ain’t Too Proud to Beg (#13 US, #1 US R&B, #21 UK), Get Ready (#29 US, #1 US R&B, #10 UK)
LINEUP: David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin. Dennis Edwards replaced Ruffin in 1968. Richard Street replaced Paul Williams in 1971. Damon Harris replaced Kendricks in 1971. The Funk Brothers did most of the session work.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The most famous male Motown vocal groups collection of hit singles going all the way to 1996, but most all were done before 1976.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Look at all the hits this group produced. First, for Smokey Robinson, then for Norman Whitfield. The Temptations were a gold mine for Motown records, almost as much as the Supremes were. This anthology collects almost all of the relevant A sides, some B sides and some album cuts from their classic era and a little beyond.

It does miss their embryonic singles, as only one of the first seven charted on the R&B chart and another charted at #122. But that’s not why you listen to the Temptations.

Hearing the early to middle cuts all in a row, you get a sense of how cookie-cutter and alike many of the songs are, especially until David Ruffin starts getting some leads. That was Motown until the late 60’s though. Get the good material out there as a single and don’t screw with the formula. They didn’t.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: I am going to review the albums in the “Psychedelic Soul” era as I think Norman Whitfield may have produced some interesting gems there.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: This is plenty for casual fans!

GRADE: A: What’s interesting to do for the songs you know by heart is to listen to the backing tracks closely to hear the magic of the Funk Brothers.