Today an American vocal group known for their success with Motown Records during the 1960s and 1970s. Known for their choreography, distinct harmonies, and flashy wardrobe, the group was highly influential to the evolution of R&B and soul music. Having sold tens of millions of albums, the Temptations are one of the most successful groups in music history. As of 2015, the Temptations continue to perform with one living original member, Otis Williams, still in the lineup. ... N'joy
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Thanks to their fine-tuned choreography -- and even finer harmonies -- The Temptations became the definitive male vocal group of the 1960s; one of Motown's most elastic acts, they tackled both lush pop and politically charged funk with equal flair, and weathered a steady stream of changes in personnel and consumer tastes with rare dignity and grace. The Temptations' initial five-man lineup formed in Detroit in 1961 as a merger of two local vocal groups, the Primes and the Distants. Baritone Otis Williams, Elbridge (aka El, or Al) Bryant, and bass vocalist Melvin Franklin were longtime veterans of the Detroit music scene when they joined together in the Distants, who in 1959 recorded the single "Come On" for the local Northern label. Around the same time, the Primes, a trio comprised of tenor Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams (no relation to Otis), and Kell Osborne, relocated to the Motor City from their native Alabama; they quickly found success locally, and their manager even put together a girl group counterpart dubbed the Primettes. (Later, three of the Primettes -- Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard -- formed the Supremes).
In 1961, the Primes disbanded, but not before Otis Williams saw them perform live, where he was impressed both by Kendricks' vocal prowess and Paul Williams' choreography skills. Soon, Otis Williams, Paul Williams, Bryant, Franklin, and Kendricks joined together as the Elgins; after a name change to The Temptations, they signed to the Motown subsidiary Miracle, where they released a handful of singles over the ensuing months. Only one, the 1962 effort "Dream Come True," achieved any commercial success, however, and in 1963, Bryant either resigned or was fired after physically attacking Paul Williams. the Tempts' fortunes changed dramatically in 1964 when they recruited tenor David Ruffin to replace Bryant; after entering the studio with writer/producer Smokey Robinson, they emerged with the pop smash "The Way You Do the Things You Do," the first in a series of 37 career Top Ten hits. With Robinson again at the helm, they returned in 1965 with their signature song, "My Girl," a number one pop and R&B hit; other Top 20 hits that year included "It's Growing," "Since I Lost My Baby," "Don't Look Back," and "My Baby."
In 1966, the Tempts recorded another Robinson hit, "Get Ready," before forgoing his smooth popcraft for the harder-edged soul of producers Norman Whitfield and Brian Holland. After spotlighting Kendricks on the smash "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," the group allowed Ruffin to take control over a string of hits including "Beauty's Only Skin Deep" and "(I Know) I'm Losing You." Beginning around 1967, Whitfield assumed full production control, and their records became ever rougher and more muscular, as typified by the 1968 success "I Wish It Would Rain." After Ruffin failed to appear at a 1968 live performance, the other four Tempts fired him; he was replaced by ex-Contour Dennis Edwards, whose less polished voice adapted perfectly to the psychedelic-influenced soul period the group entered following the success of the single "Cloud Nine." As the times changed, so did the group, and as the 1960s drew to a close, The Temptations' music became overtly political; in the wake of "Cloud Nine" -- its title a thinly veiled drug allegory -- came records like "Run Away Child, Running Wild," "Psychedelic Shack," and "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)."
After the chart-topping success of the gossamer ballad "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)" in 1971, Kendricks exited for a solo career. Soon, Paul Williams left the group as well; long plagued by alcoholism and other personal demons, he was eventually discovered dead from a self-inflected gunshot wound on August 17, 1973, at the age of 34. In their stead, the remaining trio recruited tenors Damon Harris and Richard Street; after the 1971 hit "Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)," they returned in 1972 with the brilliant number one single "Papa Was a Rolling Stone." While the Tempts hit the charts regularly throughout 1973 with "Masterpiece," "Let Your Hair Down," and "The Plastic Man," their success as a pop act gradually dwindled as the '70s wore on. After Harris exited in 1975 (replaced by tenor Glenn Leonard), the group cut 1976's The Temptations Do the Temptations, their final album for Motown. With Louis Price taking over for Edwards, they signed to Atlantic, and attempted to reach the disco market with the LPs Bare Back and Hear to Tempt You.
After Edwards returned to the fold (resulting in Price's hasty exit), the Temptations re-entered the Motown stable, and scored a 1980 hit with "Power." In 1982, Ruffin and Kendricks returned for Reunion, which also included all five of the current Temptations; a tour followed, but problems with Motown, as well as personal differences, cut Ruffin's and Kendricks' tenures short. In the years that followed, The Temptations continued touring and recording, although by the '90s they were essentially an oldies act; only Otis Williams, who published his autobiography in 1988, remained from the original lineup. The intervening years were marked by tragedy: after touring in the late '80s with Kendricks and Edwards as a member of the "Tribute to the Temptations" package tour, Ruffin died on June 1, 1991, after overdosing on cocaine; he was 50 years old. On October 5, 1992, Kendricks died at the age of 52 of lung cancer, and on February 23, 1995, 52-year-old Franklin passed away after suffering a brain seizure.
In 1998, The Temptations returned with Phoenix Rising; that same year, their story was also the subject of a well-received NBC television mini-series. Ear-Resistable followed in the spring of 2000 and would win the Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance the following year. In 2004, Legacy became their last album for Motown as 2006’s Reflections was released by New Door. The label also released their 2007 effort, Back to Front, which featured new recordings of soul classics from the '60s and '70s. After three years of touring the globe, they returned with Still Here, which was issued on the eve of their 50th anniversary.
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With everything the Temptations released pretty much guaranteed to turn to gold, not to mention platinum for that matter, even their tripped-out forays into sweet '60s psychedelic experimentation were sure to fire a string of hits. 1970's Norman Whitfield-produced Psychedelic Shack -- while perhaps a system shock to those fans who grooved to the band's lame-suited, Motown dance-routined R&B classics -- was a magnificent stretch into an epic and ultimately emerged as another in a long line of enduring sets. Deviating from form across the first songs, it was with the whimsical and willful title track (and a big thanks to the band from Georgia retro-ists the B-52's, who took their own homage, "Love Shack," to the top of the charts in 1989) that the Temptations broke their own mold with the acid-drenched party chant: "Psychedelic shack/That's where it's at." Opening that door and venturing outside the nonstop celebration, the band retains that vibe while returning to a slightly more staid stance on "Hum Along and Dance," leaving both the oddly paced "You Make Your Own Heaven and Hell Right Here on Earth" and the totally tripped-out "Take a Stroll Thru Your Mind" out on their own plane entirely. With such a strong collection of songs, it couldn't get much better than that. But, of course, it does, as the Temptations blister through the groovers "It's Summer" and "Friendship Train." And that, of course, just leaves the Whitfield-penned classic "War" to round out the mix. While fellow Motown-er Edwin Starr has etched what is now considered to be the definitive version of the song into the history tablets, the Temptations certainly took their own inspiration and added a unique spin as well. Not much else can be said, except that this is an absolutely outstanding album -- one which has stood the test of time, sounding as fresh as it did upon initial release.
The Temptations - Psychedelic Shack (flac 233mb)
01 Psychedelic Shack 3:53
02 You Make Your Own Heaven And Hell Right Here On Earth 2:46
03 Hum Along And Dance 3:53
04 Take A Stroll Thru Your Mind 8:35
05 It's Summer 2:36
06 War 3:11
07 You Need Love Like I Do (Don't You) 3:56
08 Friendship Train 7:47
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Eddie Kendricks said so long to The Temptations on this early-'70s album, with the glorious "Just My Imagination" being his swan song. The song that everyone missed was their lengthy, imaginative version of "Smiling Faces Sometimes," which wasn't a huge hit for them, but became a smash for The Undisputed Truth. Although they were successful with Damon Harris replacing Kendricks, things would never be the same.
The Temptations - Sky's the Limit (flac 310mb)
01 Gonna Keep On Tryin' Till I Win Your Love 3:51
02 Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) 3:47
03 I'm The Exception To The Rule 3:21
04 Smiling Faces Sometimes 12:06
05 Man 2:37
06 Throw A Farewell Kiss 3:25
07 Ungena Za Ulimwengu (Unite The World) 4:29
08 Love Can Be Anything (Can't Nothing Be Love But Love) 9:20
09 Ball Of Confusion (That's What The World Is Today) 4:04
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A monster album, the one that put them back in the spotlight and signaled that Norman Whitfield had saved the day. Damon Harris had replaced Eddie Kendricks, and there were many doubters convinced the band was finished. Instead, Whitfield revitalized them via the majestic single, "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone." Despite its length, Whitfield's decision to open with an extensive, multi-layered musical suite and tease listeners was a master stroke. By the time Dennis Edwards' voice came rushing in, no one would dare turn it off. The single, as well as "Law of the Land" and others, ended the funeral arrangements that had been prepared for The Temptations.
The Temptations - All Directions (flac 196mb)
01 Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On 3:07
02 Run Charlie Run 3:02
03 Papa Was A Rollin' Stone 11:46
04 Love Woke Me Up This Morning 2:23
05 I Ain't Got Nothin' 3:34
06 The First Time Ever (I Saw Your Face) 4:12
07 Mother Nature 3:10
08 Do Your Thing 3:31
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Norman Whitfield was always the Motown producer who had the most daring creative vision for The Temptations; he was the man who helped them turn psychedelic (well, sort of) with "Cloud Nine" and "Psychedelic Shack", and when the group's career had hit a slump in the early 1970's, he brought them back to the top of the charts with the brilliantly realized "Papa Was A Rolling Stone". After the latter tune had become a smash, Whitfield and The Temptations set out to make their most ambitious project to date, but in many ways, Masterpiece sounded more like a Norman Whitfield solo album with the Temps adding occasional vocals; the album's long, carefully layered tunes, complete with sweeping string charts and cleanly punctuated horn lines, have the widescreen splendor of a big-budget movie, and while it's inarguably impressive to hear, the featured artists often seem to be lost in the shuffle. It doesn't help that while the album is musically impressive, several of the songs are lyrically cut-rate, especially the cliche-ridden "Ma" and "Plastic Man", a ho-hum critique of hypocrisy, and while The Temptations deliver their material with conviction and typically peerless vocal skill, it's not enough to disguise the fact this album overshoots its target. While still better than the average Motown effort of the period, Masterpiece never quite becomes the triumph it obviously wants to be, proving once again that a "Masterpiece" usually occurs as a matter of serendipity rather than careful design.
The Temptations - Masterpiece (flac 249mb)
01 Hey Girl (I Like Your Style) 4:36
02 Masterpiece 13:49
03 Ma 4:44
04 Law Of The Land 4:52
05 Plastic Man 5:53
06 Hurry Tomorrow 8:07
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