Tuesday, 20 August 2019

The Undisputed Truth - Down To Earth (1974)

Some of my friends smoke a little dope I gotta tell y'all


Released in 1974

Running time 33.42

This was a bit of a watershed album in the career of The Undisputed Truth. Original Undisputed Truth members Billie Rae Calvin and Brenda Joyce Evans left shortly before the recording of this album, and the group's producer, Temptations guru Norman Whitfield, took the opportunity to expand the group. Founding member and male lead singer Joe Harris was joined by Virginia "V" McDonald, Tyrone "Big Ty" Douglas, Tyrone "Lil Ty" Barkeley and Calvin "Dhaak" Stephenson, all of whom had been part of The Magictones, a local Detroit soul group.

The album first six tracks are new recordings by this line-up, but the last four were recorded by the original line-up and appeared, like Love and Happiness and Law Of The Land, on the previous album, or as singles, as the final two tracks had. The album is full of quality seventies soul, however, but it was not as successful as the group's previous offerings. It is also pretty short, populated with three minute potential singles, on the whole.


1. Help Yourself
2. Big John Is My Name
3. Brother Louie
4. I'm A Fool For You
5. Our Day Will Come
6. Just You'n Me
7. Love And Happiness
8. Law Of The Land
9. The Girl's Alright With Me
10. Save My Love For A Rainy Day                  

Help Yourself is a pounding, funky Norman Whitfield number, with a solid beat and punchy brass backing. Big John Is My Name is another pulsating Whitfield song, with excellent male/female vocal interplay. It is very much done in a Temptations style, unsurprisingly. It also has hints of Sly & The Family Stone and The Staples Singers. It has lyrics about not wanting to smoke dope like his friends but just "play funky music" instead.

Brother Louie is a cover of the Hot Chocolate song about inter-racial relationships. It is a powerful, soulful rendition, but it sort of lacks the instant appeal of the original. It does not feature the hard-hitting spoken parts that the Hot Chocolate version contained.

I'm A Fool For You is a classic slice of poppy seventies soul. Our Day Will Come is a piece of easy-listening sweet soul with a nice female lead vocal. Just You'n Me is also in the same vein, but more brass-driven and powerful, in a typically mid-seventies soul ballad way. It is notable on this album that there is a switch to this sort of material in place of the psychedelic, funky soul of the earlier albums. The group were running the risk, however, in doing this, of becoming just another soul band.

As mentioned earlier, the sumptuous Memphis-esque cover of Al Green's Love And Happiness and Law Of The Land (made famous by The Temptations) had appeared on the previous year's album. This hinted a a lack of material, you have to say. They are both quality tracks, though. The Girl's Aright With Me is a poppy, very Motown single.

Save My Love For A Rainy Day was a successful single and is an excellent, very David Ruffin-esque wonderful slice of soul. You could almost say it was Ruffin with The Temptations on hearing it. Overall, this was a short but enjoyable album, but it marked a slight change in approach from The Undisputed Truth.


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