And the band played on....
This is a stunning compilation of late 60s/early 70s material.
Before "What's Goin' On", before "Inner Visions", it was The Temptations who were ploughing the original furrow of Motown social comment. Man, did they lay some grooves down too.Virtually inventing "Psychedelic Soul" they latched on to the psychedelic trends of late 1960s music and, as opposed to wittering on about kaleidoscopes, vegetables, rainbows and drug-addled purple hazes, they went straight for the urban poor experience. Starting with the "there's a promised land out there somewhere" yearning of the upbeat "Cloud Nine" from 1968, this is roller coaster of socially conscious funk. Great lyrics against a peerless backing.
Highlights of Disc One are the epic, extended, heartbreaking "Runaway Child Running Wild", the funky pop of "I Can't Get Next To You", the iconic "Message From A Black Man", the obvious sad references of "Slave" and the glory of "Psychedlic Shack", man. Basically, all of them - "You Make Your Own Heaven And Hell" and the impossibly catchy Chairmen Of The Board-ish "Hum Along And Dance". Then there is the intoxicating funky soul of "Friendship Train". Lordy, these guys got it right with this stuff.
Thankfully, to my delight, all the cuts on this release are the full versions as opposed to extended "single" releases. They are all the better for it. Yes, even the twelve minutes of Disc Two's "Papa Was A Rolling Stone". Twelve minutes is not enough for this beauty. As for "Ball Of Confusion". Wow. What a track.
"Smiling Faces Sometimes" (also covered impressively by The Undisputed Truth) kicks off Disc Two. "Take A Look Around" is beautiful and "Funky Music Sho’ ‘Nuff Turns Me On" speaks for itself. "Masterpiece" is a wonderful piece of indulgence the equal of "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" and "Plastic Man" is great too.
Remastered magnificently, my only gripe is that the titanic, pulsating "Law Of The Land" is not included. No matter, I made my own version digitally and added it.
Highly recommended monster of a compilation of this monster of a group. Not enough superlatives to use.