The Temptations

TrackAlbum
Ain’'t Too Proud To BegGettin’' Ready
Beauty Is Only Skin DeepGreatest Hits (1966)
Don’'t Look BackThe Temptin'’ Temptations
It’'s GrowingThe Temptations Sing Smokey
(I Know) I’'m Losing YouWith A Lot O’' Soul
Just My ImaginationSky'’s The Limit
My GirlThe Temptations Sing Smokey
Papa Was A Rollin’' StoneAll Directions
Psychedelic ShackPsychedelic Shack
Smiling Faces SometimesSky’'s The Limit

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Contributor: Peter Viney

I used to buy ex-juke box singles in Hull in the 60s and accumulated a pile of Temptations singles, and to my surprise, I always loved a lot of the B-sides as much as the A-sides. Some were candidates here: The Girl’s Alright With Me (B-side of I’ll Be In Trouble), You’ve Got To Earn It (B-side of Since I Lost My Baby). Don’t Look Back was a B-side (of My Baby) and not only makes the list but was one of the first I chose.

Like Marvin Gaye (elsewhere on toppermost) they’re a singles act until the late 60s. First LP releases are indicated, but all are on The Complete Motown Singles and endless compilations. They produced more albums than most Motown acts, and perhaps multiple vocalists helped. Beauty Is Only Skin Deep didn’t appear on an album, but was put on Greatest Hits in 1966, possibly as a tempter to buy the LP for those who didn’t have the track.

The Temptations perfected a light-soul style with songs like The Way You Do The Things You Do, My Girl, Since I Lost My Baby, Get Ready, and Beauty Is Only Skin Deep which contrasts with their ability to rock flat-out on Ain’t Too Proud To Beg, and (I Know) I’m Losing You. Both are classic dance floor-fillers. Major covers of their work include Otis Redding My Girl, The Rolling Stones Ain’t Too Proud To Beg and Rod Stewart (I Know) I’m Losing You. Otis is the only one that competes with The Temptations for quality, having taken such a rradical new approach to the song. Both versions are essential.

In the late 60s, under the guidance of producer Norman Whitfield, The Temptations went psychedelic. It’s as if Motown decided one group had to bite the bullet, and don the kaftans and flares, and The Temptations were to be the psych-soul flagbearers … which produced great songs like Cloud Nine, Ball Of Confusion and Psychedelic Shack. The last is flat-out Sly & The Family Stone territory.

Ball Of Confusion had the political edge that Marvin Gaye was also developing. The Temptations then followed Marvin Gaye into the album arena, with two classics, Sky’s The Limit which spawned Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) and Smiling Faces Sometimes, and All Directions which brought Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone.

I could never trace the bewildering changes of personnel. They’re still going, but the relationship with the originals is tenuous. Looking at The Rare Record Guide most people, like me, lost interest somewhere between All Directions and Masterpiece (1973). None of the subsequent stuff makes this guide book on record values, even though 1990, A Song For You and House Party sold well, especially in the USA.

 

Paul Williams (1939–1973)
Eddie Kendricks (1939–1992)
Elbridge Bryant (1939–1975)
Melvin Franklin (1942–1995)
David Ruffin (1941–1991)
Dennis Edwards (1943–2018)
Richard Street (1942–2013)
Damon Harris (1950–2013)

 

The Temptations official website

A Temptations fans website

The Temptations biography (iTunes)

TopperPost #49

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