The Temptations Sing Smokey (1965)
The Way You Do The Things You Do/Baby, Baby I Need You/My Girl/What Love Has Joined Together/You'll Lose A Precious Love/It's Growing/Who's Lovin' You/What's So Good About Goodbye/You Beat Me To The Punch/Way Over There/You've Really Got A Hold On Me/(You Can) Depend On Me
This is an excellent album from The Temptations (their second) from the beginning of their career. They really proved their worth here as a multi-talented vocal group, with all members capable of taking lead vocals. It is an album where they cover songs written by Smokey Robinson and cover them most impressively they do. Obviously the main vocalists Eddie Kendricks (falsetto) and the soulful David Ruffin are the standout performers, but, for me, Paul Williams has always been my favourite Temptations lead singer. Otis Williams and Melvin Franklin also contribute too. They were all great, let’s face it.
The album is also notable for having outstanding stereo sound, especially considering it was 1965. Incredibly good. One of the finest early Motown albums for sound quality.
Highlights are The Way You Do The Things You Do (which had also appeared on the group’s debut album Meet The Temptations), the iconic My Girl, What Love Has Joined Together, It’s Growing and You Really Got A Hold On Me. You Beat Me To The Punch has just sensational sound on it and one hell of a vocal from Paul Williams. I just love that guy’s voice. God bless him.
This album is certainly well worth checking out. It is extremely impressive considering how long ago it was recorded. Also, there is a fair case that these versions are all the equals of the Smokey Robinson & The Miracles versions.
The Temptin' Temptations (1965)
Since I Lost My Baby/The Girl's Alright With Me/Just Another Lonely Night/My Baby/You've Got To Earn It/Everybody Needs Love/Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue)/Don't Look Back/I Gotta Know Now/Born To Love/I'll Be Trouble/You're The One I Need
This album, from 1965, was packed full of singles (not all big hits, though) from the time as The Temptations continued to display what a remarkable collection of voices were on offer. Norman Whitfield was strongly involved in the production but Smokey Robinson was too, and he wrote a lot of the songs.
Since I Lost My Baby is a Smokey Robinson song expertly covered by David Ruffin’s deeper, more characterful and emotional tenor voice. The Girl’s Alright With Me has Eddie Kendricks on a most impressive lead while the ballad Just Another Lonely Night saw second tenor, the underrated Paul Williams, taking the lead, showing just what multiple talents the group possessed. The stereo sound on these tracks is superb, for 1965, backed by a lovely warm bass sound, something I always love.
The poppy, breezy and lively ballad My Baby has Ruffin on a deeper lead, while the more soulful You’ve Got To Earn It and Everybody Needs Love featured Kendricks and, on the latter solid mid-sixties Motown number, Melvin Franklin as well.
Kendricks is back at the lead on the irresistible Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue) and next up is one of my favourite Motown songs of all time - the glorious Don’t Look Back, featuring a supremely soulful vocal from Williams. It was covered by Peter Tosh and Mick Jagger and, in fine style by Elvis Costello (on a live version). I simply love this song. The upbeat I Gotta Know Now has Kendricks on fine form, I think I prefer Kendricks of all of them, but it is a mighty close call.
The infectious and soulful Born To Love features Ruffin and Kendricks duetting. I’ll Be Trouble is a very typical Smokey Robinson song led by Kendricks that has strong hints of The Way You Do The Things You Do at some points. You’re The One I Need is a lively Kendricks/Franklin collaboration to finish with that also features a great saxophone solo.
The Four Tops were great, so were Martha & The Vandellas and of course The Supremes but, for me, it has always been The Temptations above all others. This album tells you why.
Gettin' Ready (1966)
Say You/Little Miss Sweetness/Ain't Too Proud To Beg/Get Ready/Lonely, Lonely Man Am I/Too Busy Thinking About My Baby/I've Been Good To You/It's A Lonely World Without Your Love/Fading Away/Who You Gonna Run To/You're Not An Ordinary Girl/Not Now, I'll Tell You Later/Give It Up
Unlike some Motown acts in the mid-sixties, The Temptations (with a couple of notable exceptions) released albums that were full of genuine Motown material, as opposed to cover versions of easy listening standards. This is a fine example of a credible album, from 1966 too, something relatively unusual. It is also in stereo sound and pretty reasonable sound quality on most tracks.
The opener, Say You is a pulsating, upbeat number, although Little Miss Sweetness is blighted a little by some hissy sound in places. Ain't Too Proud To Beg however, is an absolute classic, one of my favourite Motown songs of all time. David Ruffin's lead vocal is surely his finest Motown moment. This one has superb sound - big, bassy stereo, as it should be. It is simply a perfect song. Motown Heaven.
Then there is Get Ready. Eddie Kendricks soars on the lead vocal on what is now one of Motown's most iconic tracks. That brass, drum and bass intro - wow. The song cooks from beginning to end. The soulful Lonely, Lonely Man Am I features Paul Williams on vocals, who offers a deeper, bassier voice. Despite the great voice of Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks, Williams has always been my favourite Temptations singer. The group's take on Marvin Gaye's Too Busy Thinking About My Baby is a slightly jazzier interpretation than Gaye's. Personally I prefer Gaye's, despite my love for The Temptations. The fifties-ish I've Been Good To You is horn-driven and possessing of a huge, resonant bass line. It's A Lonely World Without Your Love is lively and catchy, typically mid-sixties Motown.
The last four songs are all Smokey Robinson songs, all of the expected quality, with the the jaunty You're Not An Ordinary Girl probably the best. Overall, a lively and enjoyable mid-sixties Motown album.
With A Lot O' Soul (1967)
(I Know) I'm Losing You/Ain't No Sun Since You've Been Gone/All I Need/(Loneliness Made Me Realise) It's You That I Need/No More Water In The Well/Save My Love For A Rainy Day/Just One Last Look/Sorry Is A Sorry Word/You're My Everything/Now That You've Won Me/Two Sides To Love/Don't Send Me Away
This is a proper Motown album. Unlike albums from The Four Tops and Diana Ross & The Supremes from the same period, it contained no "filler" in the shape of easy listening, Beatles or Monkees covers. It was comprised of all bona fide Motown songs from either Holland-Dozier-Holland, Norman Whitfield, Smokey Robinson or various combinations of these and a few others.
The songs are great - the punchy soul of (I Know) I'm Losing You, the pulsating groove of Ain't No Sun Since You've Been Gone, the upbeat typical Motown sound of All I Need combine to kick the album off to one superb start. The stereo sound is wonderful and the backing from The Funk Brothers is peerless as always. (Loneliness Made Me Realise) It's You That I Need is an uplifting, little-mentioned but infectious number. Paul Williams takes lead vocals on No More Water In The Well, a track that acts as a precursor for the "psychedelic soul" that the group would put out over the 1968-73 period. The seeds of their "conscious" brand of soul were being sown here, of that there is no doubt.
Eddie Kendricks' falsetto is superb on the catchy, lively Save My Love For A Rainy Day. Material like we have had on this album so far confirm why The Temptations have always been my favourite Motown group. Yes, I love The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Martha & The Vandellas and Diana Ross & The Supremes but The Temptations were so special. Just listen to David Ruffin on Just One Last Look. It is soul that just lifts you higher. As indeed is Sorry Is A Sorry Word. One great song after another.
The hit single, You're My Everything with Kendricks back on lead vocals has a singalong, irresistible refrain. Now That You've Won Me and Two Sides To Love are both typical Temptations soul on which the vocals are just outstanding. Don't Send Me Away is a late fifties-influenced crooner to end this excellent soul album from one of the greatest pure soul groups of all time.
I Wish It Would Rain (1968)
I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)/Cindy/I Wish It Would Rain/Please Return Your Love To Me/Fan The Flame/He Who Picks A Rose/Why Did You Leave Me Darling/I Truly, Truly Believe/This Is My Beloved/I'm Gonna Give Her All The Love I've Got/I've Passed This Way Before/No Man Can Love Her Like I Do
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.