I get a little flak every once in the while for being a little too “80’s centric”. Justifiably so, I reckon, as a good majority of my posts since the inception of this here little blog ‘o’ mine focus on that particular decade. My record collection mirrors that to a degree with albums and bands from that era representing approximately 30% of the total. That said, I do enjoy me some Motown, and my favorite band from that label has always been The Temptations.
I am the most fond of their funkier excursions of the mid-late 60’s and early 70’s like Papa Was A Rolling Stone, Cloud Nine and Psychedelic Shack, but still have a soft spot for My Girl, Ain’t To Proud To Beg and Get Ready. No other band in the history of modern music had as many amazing singers as The Temptations. David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, the underrated and sadly forgotten Paul Williams, and Dennis Edwards, who sang on a number of their later period funk workouts.
Of course they had some amazing folks writing their songs: Smokey Robinson penned the early hits, Holland-Dozier-Holland their mid-period hits, and Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong penned the funk (some would say socially relevant) stuff.
The Temptations story is a sad story, and way too long for me to get into here, but suffice it to say that Ruffin’s dead and drug addled body was thrown from a moving car, Paul Williams blew his own brains out, Eddie Kendricks died of cancer and baritone Melvin Franklin passed away of a brain seizure. The founder of the band, the guy that somehow held it together through the years, was Otis Williams. He was never one of the primary “voices” of the group, but he remains the steward of the Temptations legacy.
The Temptations music lends itself to compilations, and two of the best are “Psychedelic Soul”, a double disk set of their extended funk excursions, and 2011’s three disk set, “50th Anniversary: The Singles Collection”.