Today more from the 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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Even as the name projects the vocalists some 17 years in the future, 1990 (1973) clearly offers up the unmistakable sound of the early-'70s Temptations. At this point, the lineup boasted founding members Otis Williams and Melvin Franklin alongside David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks' respective replacements, Dennis Edwards and Ricky Owens. The most recent recruit, Richard Street, had taken his cues from Paul Williams in the summer of 1971. The concurrently modern sound of "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" filtered into 1990. The primary difference being the instrumental support, now consisting of an amalgam of the Funk Brothers and members of the Los Angeles-based Rose Royce ("Car Wash") aggregate. The results were a favorable mix of compelling singles, such as the R&B chart-topper "Let Your Hair Down" as well as a pair of additional Top Ten entries with the resplendent "Heavenly" and the wah-wah funk fest "You've Got My Soul on Fire." As they had done on the unedited version of "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" and more recently the title track of their previous effort, Masterpiece (1973), the Temptations stretch out with the extended social commentary "Zoom." The organic pondering groove rises from a cacophony of spoken dialogue as the trippy soul interplanetary vibe perfectly aligns with the celestial lyrics. Norman Whitfield's string score supplies some nice atmospheric touches throughout and appropriately concludes his decade-plus association with the band. Although not as strong as its predecessor, 1990 climbed to number two on the R&B countdown and made its way into the Top 20 pop survey. Sadly, its success was clouded by the suicide of co-founder Paul Williams in August of 1973. It would be over a year before the band would release their follow-up, -- a considerable span compared to the downtime between any of their previous long-players.
The Temptations - 1990 (flac 229mb)
01 Let Your Hair Down 2:45
02 I Need You 3:05
03 Heavenly 4:01
04 You've Got My Soul On Fire 3:59
05 Ain't No Justice 5:50
06 1990 4:06
07 Zoom 13:45
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Prior to being reissued in a limited-edition run of 5,000 copies by Hip-O Select, the Temptations' In Japan (1973) was only available as an import title. The performance was recorded while the vocal quintet were touring in support of their Masterpiece (1972) long-player. The lineup included Dennis Edwards, Richard Street, Damon Harris, Melvin Franklin and Otis Williams. Collectively, they resuscitated the combo in the wake of both Eddie Kendricks' and Paul Williams' departures. The updated incarnation made a significant name for themselves with the chart-topper "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone." Despite the Temptations' sizable classic-'60s soul catalog, they draw heavily from Masterpiece, playing half of the album as well as a healthy sampling from their previous effort All Directions (1972) -- most notably a nearly eight-minute reading of the aforementioned "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone"." Not surprisingly, the strongest sides are the newer selections. The set kicks off with an edgy and funky rendition of "Plastic Man" from Masterpiece, which is likewise the source for the slow jam ballad "Hey Girl (I Like Your Style)." the Temptations' reworking of "The First Time (Every I Saw Your Face)" is another outstanding and affective love song, highlighting their impeccable harmonies. Predictably, they dip into their vintage repertoire for an up-tempo and rousing "I Can't Get Next to You," and an arguably rote medley featuring "Get Ready," "My Girl" and "The Way You Do the Things You Do." Conversely, the sweet and sincere "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)" and the suitably climactic "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" conclude the show, underscored by the tight Motown horn section as they wail on what is nothing short of a definitive version of the latter. Longtime enthusiasts will want to add In Japan to their library, especially as it is the sole concert platter with this early-'70s personnel.
The Temptations - In Japan (flac 312mb)
01 Plastic Man 3:07
02 I Can't Get Next To You 1:55
03 Love Woke Me Up This Morning 4:02
04 Medley : Get Ready - My Girl - The Way You Do The Things You Do 3:29
05 The First Time Ever (I Saw Your Face) 6:16
06 Hey Girl (I Like Your Style) 4:21
07 Cloud Nine 2:11
08 Introduction Of Band & Group 3:29
09 A Song For You 5:21
10 Masterpiece 2:31
11 Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) 4:24
12 Papa Was A Rollin' Stone 7:24
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By 1975, the Temptations were a much different group with both David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks out of the lineup. Dennis Edwards was now singing lead, and only Melvin Franklin and Otis Williams existed from the original group. The group was far more of a funk mind, and this set proves it. The big hit on here was "Happy People," with the Temps backed up by the Commodores, listed as "the Temptations Band" on the second part instrumental version. For ultra-funk, though, it's hard to beat "Glasshouse" and "Shakey Ground," which features guitar and bass work from P-Funk alumni Eddie Hazel and Billy Nelson. But they didn't leave their ballads entirely in the good old days, as the satin-drenched "Firefly," "Memories" and the title track clearly show. Produced by Jeffrey Bowen, this thing has "'70s'" stamped all over it. In the case of the Temps, that's good.
The Temptations - A Song For You (flac 214mb)
01 Happy People 3:35
02 Glasshouse 3:55
03 Shakey Ground 4:02
04 The Prophet 4:24
05 Happy People (Instrumental) 2:54
06 A Song For You 4:34
07 Memories 5:56
08 I'm A Bachelor 4:17
09 Firefly 4:00
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