The Temptations Sing Smokey The Temptations

Album info



Label: Motown Records

Genre: R&B

Subgenre: Soul

Album including Album cover

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  • 1The Way You Do The Things You Do02:42
  • 2Baby, Baby I Need You02:54
  • 3My Girl02:45
  • 4What Love Has Joined Together02:58
  • 5You'll Lose A Precious Love02:36
  • 6It's Growing03:00
  • 7Who's Lovin' You02:59
  • 8What's So Good About Goodbye02:40
  • 9You Beat Me To The Punch02:44
  • 10Way Over There03:03
  • 11You've Really Got A Hold On Me03:00
  • 12(You Can) Depend On Me02:32
  • Total Runtime33:53

Info for The Temptations Sing Smokey

Shortly, a caravan of stars will join Smokey Robinson on his brand new album, to perform some of the most-loved songs of the past 50 years with their creator. His duet partners range from modern marquee names such as John Legend and Jessie J to heritage hitmakers such as Elton John and James Taylor. But a half-century ago, there was The Temptations Sing Smokey.

David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin and Otis Williams – The Temptations – were arguably the most sublime interpreters of Smokey’s work. This album is the evidence, offering Kendricks’ feather-light falsetto as doppelganger of Robinson’s own peerless tones, and Ruffin’s honey-and-sandpaper delivery as the epitome of rhythm, blues and soul.

The album is actually rather like a college graduation celebration, beginning with care-free exuberance (“The Way You Do The Things You Do”) and closing with the slow, emotional realisation that the night’s end means parting company with friends who will never again gather like this. And yet, as five voices round on that final, melancholy note, everyone in the room is reminded that “(You Can) Depend On Me.” The college metaphor extends to the graduation of these five young men, because The Temptations Sing Smokey did mark the Temptations’ transition to the real world. After the commercial failure of their first seven singles for Motown, Smokey Robinson wrote (with fellow Miracle Bobby Rogers) and produced the breakthrough with “The Way You Do The Things You Do.” It’s an irresistible sequence of similes – Robinson’s trademark – powered by a swinging band track, topped by Kendricks’ compelling lead.

No wonder this was their first bona fide hit, an R&B No. 1 in 1964 and a pop crossover triumph. Welcome to the future, to the demanding round of hit records and follow-ups, of showcase gigs and sell-out tours, of media demands, irreconcilable itineraries and personal challenges. Welcome to stardom.

Even so, there are marvellous reminders in this album of the Temptations’ origins, of five mellifluous voices, forged in doowop (“Baby, Baby I Need You”) and sometimes an older, unadorned style (“What’s So Good About Good Bye”). The ballad “You’ll Lose A Precious Love” is also a throwback to 1950s street-corners, wherein David Ruffin’s lead tears out the listener’s heart while Melvin Franklin’s impossible bass pleads, “Don’t destroy this precious love.”

Much of this album was recorded at Motown in 1964, as the momentum of record sales gave the group – and Smokey – fresh confidence. Robinson refits several songs that he recorded with the Miracles (“Way Over There,” “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me”) and Mary Wells (“You Beat Me To The Punch”), and in all cases, the Temptations shade them a little deeper. With “Who’s Lovin’ You,” none can outshine the Miracles’ anguished original, but Ruffin’s religious take comes close, complete with his glide up the register at the song’s end. This is the version, after all, which inspired Michael Jackson’s astonishing revisit five years later.

And so to the touchstone, the ticket to ride, Smokey’s – and Motown’s – monument for the ages: “My Girl.” He brought the song to New York’s Apollo Theatre, where both The Miracles and The Temptations were performing that October. An iconic photo captures the writer briefing his messengers backstage, with David Ruffin reading what appears to be a lyric sheet. Later, back in Detroit, Robinson assembled all the elements: James Jamerson’s opening bass line, Robert White’s ascending guitar figure, sweeping strings shaped by arranger Paul Riser and, above all, the rich cohesion of The Temptations. Hallelujah! (Classic Motown)

„This was only the group's second LP, and it was an extremely strong one, built around two monster hits ('My Girl' and the previously recorded 'The Way You Do the Things You Do') and one close runner-up ('It's Growing'), plus a brace of some of the best songs in the Motown catalog, including renditions of 'You Beat Me to the Punch,' 'What's So Good About Goodbye?,' 'You've Really Got a Hold on Me,' and 'Way Over There.' All are done in a style unique to the Temptations, with arrangements that are distinctly different from the familiar versions by other Motown acts, and all are worthwhile. The original CD version, released in the mid-'80s, was a major disappointment. In 1998, it was remastered in 24-bit digital audio, giving it vastly superior sound quality (the 1998 copyright on the back is the giveaway, along with the reference to Polygram as owner of Motown); it was the first of the classic individual Motown albums already out on CD to get this treatment. The stereo separation on the reissue is very sharp, the sound is a lot closer and louder, and the detail is startling, right down to the rhythm section, parts of which, on 'Baby, Baby I Need You' and 'My Girl,' stand out in astonishingly sharp relief. The bass on the latter is so solid it's scary, and the disc is worth owning almost as much for the sound as the music, just to show what listeners were missing on those earlier CDs.“ (Bruce Eder, AMG)

David Ruffin, vocals (all tracks except 'Baby, Baby I Need You')
Eddie Kendricks, vocals
Paul Williams, vocals
Melvin Franklin, vocals
Otis Williams, vocals
Elbridge 'Al' Bryant, vocals ('Baby, Baby I Need You')
The Andantes, background vocals ('It's Growing')

Produced by Smokey Robinson

Digitally remastered

The Temptations
For more than forty years, The Temptations have prospered, propelling popular music with a series of smash hits, and sold-out performances throughout the world.

'The crowds are bigger, the sales are sizzling,' says one industry report. 'The outpouring of affection for this super group has never been greater.'

The history of the Temptations is the history of contemporary American pop. An essential component of the original Motown machine, that amazing engine invented by Berry Gordy, the Temps began their musical life in Detroit in the early sixties. It wasn't until 1964, however, that the Smokey Robinsin written-and-produced 'The Way You Do the Things You Do' turned the guys into stars.

An avalanche of hits followed, many of which - 'My Girl,' for instance-attained immortality. 'It's Growing,' 'Since I Lost My Baby,' 'Get Ready,' 'Too Proud to Beg,' 'Beauty Is Only Skin Deep,' 'I Wish It Would Rain'-the hits kept coming.

The classic lineup was Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin. Beyond the fabulous singing, the Temps became known for smooth stepping and flawless presentations. The Temptation Walk became a staple of American style, Flair, flash and class. Millions of fans saw their Temptations as cultural heroes.

When the sixties and seventies turned political, the Temps got serious. They changed their tone, dress and music. Producer Norman Whitfield led the way. His Temptations hits, many featuring Dennis Edwards who had replaced David Ruffin, burned with intensity. 'Runaway Child,' 'Cloud Nine,' 'I Can't Get Next to You,' 'Papa Was a Rolling Stone' and 'Psychedelic Shack' still smolder.

Other stellar singers-Richard Street, Ali-Ollie Woodson-joined, adding their luster to the group's growing fame.

No matter the change in personnel, the Temptations remained true to the Temptations tradition. They survived the whims of fashion, whether disco or techno, and stuck to their guns.

'Great singing,' says Otis Williams, 'will always prevail'

In the eighties, the Temps prevailed with smashes like 'Treat Her Like a Lady.'

Then in the nineties, another Temptation explosion:

It began with their appearance on Motown 25 in 1983; it continued with the NBC mini series that chronicled the group's history, a ratings triumph over two nights in prime time.

Then came a series of acclaimed records:

For Lovers Only, a collection of love standards, termed an instant classic by critics, remains among the most cherished of all Temptations recordings.

Phoenix Rising went through the roof, a platinum-plus mega-hit featuring 'Stay' the Narada Michael Walden-produced song that topped the charts.

Ear Resistible nailed a Grammy and a legion of new fans.

Awesome, released in 2001 is The Temptations at their freshest, strongest, and most appealing.

Reflections was released in 2005, nominated for a Grammy and brought to the world The Temptations versions of some of Motown's greatest songs

The current lineup consists of Otis Williams, Ron Tyson, Terry Weeks, Joe Herndon and Bruce Williamson.

'The more we change,' says veteran Ron Tyson, 'the more we stay true to ourselves. We're about singing straight-up soul. It's a style that will live on forever.'

'The Tempts have always been known for great lead singers', says Williams. 'Today we have three of the greatest leads in the proud history of the group.'

The soaring voice of Ron Tyson, perhaps the best high tenor in the business.

Terry Weeks, who grew up in Alabama and spent eight years in the Air Force before his makeshift audition for Otis on a Hollywood street corner, who's smooth textures and tones, express an extraordinary full range of feelings.

Newest member, Bruce Williamson started singing in a church choir at the ripe age of 5 years old and hasn't stop since. He has sung in everything from commercials to musical to the top showrooms in Las Vegas. Bruce was introduced to Otis by Ron Tyson.

'Our challenge,' says Williams, 'is to live in the present while respecting the past. Our past is filled with riches only a fool would discard. At the same time, we thrive on competition. As a Motowner, I grew up in the most competitive musical atmosphere imaginable. But we also understand that for a group with history, no matter how glorious that history might be, reinvention is the name of the game.'

'When I tell people we are God's group,' says Otis, a remarkable modest man, 'I don't mean it arrogantly. It's just that we have been tested time and time again and keep coming back. We have suffered the deaths of so many lengendary singers...Paul Williams, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin. Other's like Dennis Edwards, Richard Street, Ali-Ollie Woodson and Theo Peoples have left, and yet our unity is tighter, our sound brighter and our popularity greater. Someone has watched over this group. Someone has protected our integrity. Someone has said...just go on singing and it'll get better.' Copyright ©2003 All rights reserved.

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