Sunday, April 27, 2014


One of the greatest Motown groups, with one of the best lead singers in Levi Stubbs.  Unlike other Motown acts of the mid-60's, Stubbs didn't get the star treatment afforded Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross and Martha Reeves, where Berry Gordy insisted that the main singer receive elevated status, changing the group name to highlight them (The Supremes became Diana Ross and The Supremes, etc.).   Despite a stellar record of hits, including Baby I Need Your Loving, Reach Out, I'll Be There, I Can't Help Myself, Bernadette and Standing In The Shadows Of Love, The Temp's got relegated to second tier in the late 60's once the beloved writer-producers Holland-Dozier-Holland left the fold.  But they weren't about to be kept down by Motown internal politics, and after foundering for a couple of years, re-emerged as a funkier presence with Still Water (Love) and Just Seven Numbers, plus a series of team-ups with the Ross-less Supremes.

This double-disc collection gathers all the important Motown hits, which is usually what you want, the big ones.  But the Temptations were one of the few Detroit groups that managed to score after leaving the family as well.  So we're missing out on mid-70's hits Keeper Of The Castle and Ain't No Woman (Like The One I Got), and the 80's comeback When She Was My Girl.  There is a better compilation to be made, but this is pretty generous.  The hits will always impress, but the relative failures can be just as exciting.  They aren't the overplayed ones, familiar from a hundred different movie soundtracks.  Late 60's gems Yesterday's Dreams, I'm In A Different World and Can't Seem To Get You Out Of My Mind have all the important elements of classic Motown, especially the great Funk Brothers backing, and that urgent vocal that set Stubbs apart from the others.  With his extra grit, on the right song he could best Stevie, Smokey and Marvin.

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