Thursday, 11 October 2018

The Temptations - I Wish It Would Rain (1968)


  

Released April 1968

This was the last album featuring The Temptations "classic five"  Eddie Kendricks, David Ruffin, Paul Williams, Otis Williams and Melvin Franklin, before David Ruffin's burgeoning ego became too great to ignore and he went his own way. This was a shame, because this was one hell of a line up. It was also the last album before Norman Whitfield pushed the group in the direction of "psychedelic soul", as he would do with the following year's "Cloud Nine" album.

This was an album of sublime, classic Temptations soul. The sound quality is excellent, in stereo and the backing from The Funk Brothers is peerless as usual. It is possibly the finest of their pure "Motown soul" albums. It is one great song after another - "I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)", "Cindy" and the simply magnificent "I Wish It Would Rain" are three great ways in which to remember David Ruffin's incredible contribution to The Temptations. His voice on "Rain" is just wonderful. Maybe his finest moment. Yes, he may have been an egoist and a disruptive influence on the group's dynamic, but by God the guy could sing.

Eddie Kendricks then reminds us just how marvellous that falsetto vocal was with the excellent "Please Return Your Love to Me". The muscular, beautifully bassy "Fan The Flame" has Ruffin once again on top form. "He Who Picks A Rose" became a Northern Soul hit in the seventies in its version by The Carstairs, Jimmy Ruffin did it too, and here The Temptations do it justice. I prefer it by the Carstairs actually, although the version here is a pulsating, infectious one. Ruffin dominates this album and he is towering once again on "Why Did You Leave Me Darling". Melvin Franklin's basso profundo is given an outing on "I Truly, Truly Believe". Unfortunately for him it is probably the worst cut on the album. "This Is My Beloved" with Kendricks on lead duties is ok, but nothing special.

Then come two tracks that were made hits by Jimmy Ruffin - "Gonna Give Her All The Love I've Got" and "I've Passed This Way Before". Paul Williams does a good job on the former, but Jimmy Ruffin's version is better. The latter has David Ruffin on lead vocals but older brother Jimmy's version of the song is the definitive one, I think. "No Man Can Love Her Like I Do" is a lively, thumping song to end on. This album is, in my opinion, better on its old "side one", slightly. On to some social comment and psychedelic soul for The Temptations now, post David Ruffin.

B-

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