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    The Temptations

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    Meet The Temptations 8 ( 1964 )
    Way You Do The Things You Do / I Want A Love I Can See / You're My Dream Come True / Paradise / May I Have This Dance / Isn't She Pretty / Just Let Me Know / Your Wonderful Love / Further You Look, The Less You See / Check Yourself / Slow Down Heart / Farewell My Love

    A collection of early singles, The Temptations' first LP was released three years into the group's history with Motown. David Ruffin is absent from all but the first track, cut after the others. They work with a number of producers, including Norman Whitfield, Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson. Seven of the twelve original LP cuts were written or co-written by Gordy with Smokey Robinson getting his name on three of the remaining cuts. It's these i'll discuss first because they seem more in line with the classic Temptations sound. The lead song was the bands breakthrough hit and Eddie Kendricks falsetto underpins the sound. The harmonies are irresistable and it's no surprise this gem of a song became a hit. Two minute, forty five seconds enough to ensure you want to hear them again straight after, sax break included. 'Slow Down Heart' has slightly strange percussion, a ratatattat on the drums. It appeared as the b-side to the Berry Gordy produced 'Paradise' and deserved better than that, especially with the passionate lead Paul Williams gives the tune. Paul also gets the lead on the other Smokey Robinson tune here, 'I Want A Love I Can See'. It has a sexually charged lyric with a gritty, sensual lead vocal and is a fine accomplished tune all round.

    Two doo-wop influenced tunes appear here which is no real surprise for this type of band and the year the album came out. Well, by 1964 these two tunes will have already been seen as something of fifties throwbacks, yet such tunes were still being performed by groups up and down the land, doo-wop wasn't dead! 'Paradise' contains all the usual doo-wop traits, a ridiculously high falsetto lead and 'bum de dum' sill bass vocals. I love it, love it. It wasn't a hit. The Whitfield co-composed 'May I Have This Dance' also has a hint of doo-wop, primarily the deep backing vocals. Rounding out the album then is the uptempo dance number 'Isn't She Pretty', the derivative yet soulful 'Your Wonderful Love' and the doo-wop tinged closer 'Farewell My Love' among others, wonderful vocals on that one. So, that's your debut album from The Temptations. It's a world removed from their more political numbers of later years and hadn't yet solidified into a mean, hit making machine, yet this is a charming album you can pick up for around 5.97 with the bonus of 'Sings Smokey', their second LP, on the same disc. Do it!

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    The Temptations Sing Smokey( 1965 )
    Way You Do The Things You Do / Baby, Baby I Need You / My Girl / What Love Has Joined Together / You'll Love A Precious Love / It's Growing / Who's Loving 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

    Motown acts often covered each others hits, yet the hook here is really that you get a whole album of Smokey Robinson tunes performed by The Temptations, including the previously released hit 'The Way You Do The Things You Do'. The groups sound had solidified and the album on recent re-masters simply sounds superb. The bands doo-wop roots continue to shine through on a number of songs, 'Baby, Baby I Need You' is just wonderful, such superb vocals especially the falsetto. 'What Love Has Joined Together' has such a silky smooth, impressive vocal that it really does amaze and spellbind a listener into submission. What's sandwiched inbetween these two songs is of course even better, the all-time classic 'My Girl'. Such a thing is hard to imagine being written or barely existing. Right from the distinctive bass riff through to the David Ruffin lead vocal ( what a lead! ), 'My Girl' is a smash. Oh, and 'i've got so much honey, the bees envy me' - this is the kind of poetry Dylan was talking about when he dubbed Smokey 'the greatest living poet'. 'It's Growing' was another fine song but struggled to match the success of 'My Girl', although sticking to the same sort of formula in structure and sound. The entire first half of the album is just a sheer classic though, excellent cut after excellent cut, almost every one of which could have been a hit. The second half of the album is notable not for hits or potential hits, but rather a succession of excellent lead vocals. The impassioned 'Who's Loving You' flows into the jaunty sounding 'What's So Good About Goodbye', another clever set of lyrics married to a smooth vocal and impressive backing harmonies.

    The Beatles were of course admirers of Motown and here we get a tune covered by The Beatles, 'You've Really Got A Hold On Me'. Harmonies to lead The Temptations version, which might not be as 'gritty' as The Beatles version, The Temptations replace such grit with sheer smooth and silky soulful vocals. Oh, oh my, I love the doo-wop flavoured closing tune, 'You Can Depend On Me'. You know what, The Beach Boys of course were also doo-wop influenced and these backing vocals, ah, I could listen all day. The lead really does tug at your heartstrings and as i'm writing i'm getting goosebumps. Best pull my pullover back on.

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    Readers Comments

    John john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    9/10, and The Temptations' first classic. Despite the generally "high tech" production, the album still retains the guys' original Doo-Wap ethics by focusing on the vocal dynamics, and individual hallmarks. A solid and always engaging album.

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