Review Summary: Legen-waitforit!
There are few acts in history that deserve being introduced with the inclusion of the word history. The Temptations stand as the class of Pop, R&B and Soul with their classic era containing some of the most iconic songs to have ever graced airwaves. The group, whether featuring Eddie Kendricks or David Ruffin, has always distinguished itself by singing on one mic and harmonizing the hell out of a melody. Backed by the jazziest of live instruments and flawless hooks, The Temptations, much like The Beatles, helped define what it was to create popular music. I really didn’t want to include a comparison to recent pop phenomenon aka The 20/20 Experience
but it cannot be ignored. The comparisons –while bold, hold merit and speak to how vast the influence of The Temptations actually stretches. Consider a song, nay, just hear that intro to “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” and soak up that lush bluesy soul that conveys the attitude of the song so brilliantly – the pleading, the hurt it’s all there in that first three seconds. Music hasn’t been able to do this in quite some time and Timberlake’s recent success is an affirmation toward this ability.
What The Temptations spoke to most, and so effectively I might add, was love and everything that that “word” meant. The pain it can brood; the joy it could produce, the Temp’s capture this myriad of moods with deft ability. A track like “I Wish It Would Rain” best resembles the group’s knack for blessing intricate melodies with soulful vocals that bellow as loud as the thunder it sharply samples. But the biggest testament to the group’s legend lives in their bravado. Their luster carried them and their careers farther than most of their contemporaries and it’s what makes a song like “My Girl”, you know, the one that snaps its way into the smoothest croon about sunshine – ever
, yeah, that one, anyway, it’s what makes a song like that just so darn memorable. If I was a betting man, and trust me I am, I’d wager you wouldn’t even need to hear half the songs I’ve described to let them become perfectly infected in your brain.
The group of course was known for its internal struggles especially
with its lead vocalist spot, and while highly coveted, was hardly manageable when dealing with the fame it brought. Songs like “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone” and “Cloud Nine” best accompany the tone of the bands dealings. Dark and moody cuts that were carried mostly by bass and a swarming psychedelic influence spoke to and of the “influence” mighty finely. The shift in the bands groove was not by chance as the addition of Dennis Edwards and the heavier dabbling in drugs and alcohol caused the bands’ focus to become funk oriented. And the adoption of blues was cast. And again The Temptations are able to deliver a fantastic string of recognizable pop anthems. That bass line in “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” and the guitar that follows suit is so damn crucial to the power of this evolution that it can be argued the Temp’s were the driving force in the pushing of this new type of soul. The jam
that is “Shakey Ground” solidifies this as it boasts the funkiest groove (thanks of course to Parliament
) on the album and arguably their career touting horns et al.
Essentially what you’re getting with this package is a bite of history. Maybe a slice. What The Temptations were able to create with five men around one mic hundreds of “pop” “artists” with thousands of fireworks have yet to reproduce. That notion to leaving your troubles behind in “Don’t Look Back” speaks to the geniality in this groups legacy and feels as genuine coming from them as it does as a family member or friend. The horse I’m beating to the ground here is that this ever revolving group of gentlemen held the world in their hand at one point and here’s what they created when everyone was watching.