Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Last Temptations

The Temptations released two LPs in 1973. Norman Whitfield did his usual great job on both records. He also wrote and produced all of the music. The Funk Brothers and members of Rose Royce provided instrumental backup. Both records are good but I think cutting a few songs and combining the two into one album would have been a good idea.

Whitfield had been running the producing the Temptations for most early seventies. The group was tiring of his emphasis on long (the shortest song if 4:39) heavily orchestrated socially conscious music. “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” was the Temptations and Whitfield’s greatest song. To even things up parentally, Whitfield wrote a song about “Ma”. The group barely makes it into the title song of MASTERPIECE. There are no vocals until 4 minutes into the song and none for the seven and a half minutes. The Temptations names are not listed anywhere on the sleeve but all six(!) guitarists, four drummers and three bass players get thanked. Only one horn player but he gets a thank you too. On the back cover, Whitfield’s picture is larger than any of the Temptations.

There were several hits from MASTERPIECE so Whitfield got to produce another Temptations LP. That LP – 1990 – seems to be where Whitfield decided that he was tired of the Temptations. He wrote a few potential singles but nothing really great, some political stuff and filled out the LP by blasting the Temptations into space with a 13 minute song about a trip to the moon. “Zoom” is filler but its pretty good filler. Even though Whitfield does bring the group back to Earth, he was not asked to produce the Temptations again. The best song on the LP is the still-relevant title song.

Both Norman Whitfield & the Temptations soon left Motown for greener pastures.


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