Thursday, 19 February 2009

The Temptations - 1990 - 1973 - Gordy

1990 was the last album which the Temptations liaised with the late, great Norman Whitfield. The single release, "Heavenly" deserved to be a huge smash for the guys but due to Berry Gordy not acknowledging the input of US DJ's in the support of Motown at the AMA's it was boycotted and the single stalled. One would have thought that by now the public would have known about the group and would listen for themselves...sadly this public malaise still operates today and ensures that the real talent which doesn't get promotion falls to the side and the latest TV talent show wailer gets top billing and top sales. Criminal. Still, we know wheat's what don't we and tracks such as "Heavenly" did not come under our radar screens. Whitfield, as we know, was soon to move onto a lucrative deal with Warner Brothers and his own Whitfield label, taking from Motown the Undisputed Truth and introducing us the huge Rose Royce. Incidentally, on this album the backing music comes from not only the Funk Brothers but also...Rose Royce!

I have 2 favourites on this album - the aforementioned "Heavenly" and the epic-length "Zoom". The single release, "Heavenly" is CLASSIC Temptations in a "Just My Imagination" kind of way, and on this song the lead on this item is Ex-Monitors vocalist Richard Street who gives a very competent and sweet 70s styled performance. An excellent singer, I would like to see something by way of a solo album from him. The squeezebox, strings and full orchestration combine with Richard to create a very special sound indeed. "Zoom", on the other hand is sheer magnificence! Fourteen minutes of psychedelic soul, a real piece of extravagant self-indulgence for Mr. Norman Whitfield, but so what?! I love his style and tracks like this are Epic even by today's standards. On the cut the theme are UFOs, a theme that Norman would return to a lot with the Undisputed Truth on their "Higher Than High" album. Not dissimilar in style from the classic sounds laid down on "Masterpiece" and "All Directions" this is a real treat. Bass vocalist Melvin Franklin counts down and allows Dennis Edwards to let his soulful vocal tear strips and the combined Temptations are heaven with their perfect harmonies. Add dramatic strings, wah-wah guitar, harp and funky bass line then the song is a real winner. I also like other funky efforts such as "Let Your Hair Down" and "You've Got My Soul On Fire". This is CLASSIC early 70s Temptations and thanks to Hip-O for releasing it on CD.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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