My Girl By The Temptations

August 25, 2015

 

If ever a single deserved to be number one it was “My Girl.” Sometime life and especially the music industry is not fair, but every once in awhile the universe is in sync and so it was when “My Girl” topped the BILLBOARD Pop Chart the week of March 6, 1965.

Eddie Kendrick had been the lead singer on the first few Temptations singles but now for the first time, Jimmy Ruffin took over the lead vocal role. The result was one of the classic and eternal love songs in American music.


David Ruffin/Me ‘N Rock ‘N Roll Are Here To Stay (CD) by David Ruffin

April 21, 2014

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David Ruffin was asked to leave the Temptations in 1972 and he responded to his new-found solo status by releasing two albums within a period of six months. My Whole World Ended and Feelin’ Good may not have been perfect but they were fine introductions to his developing style outside of a group setting.

His next two solo releases, David Ruffin (1972) and Me ‘N Rock ’N Roll Are Here To Stay (1973) find him traveling in a number of directions. In some ways the albums were more about producers Bobby Miller and Norman Whitfield. While there are some good performances hidden among the tracks, both albums have an inconsistency to them.

Bobby Miller was more of a Philadelphia soul producer than one versed in the legacy of Motown. He wrote or co-wrote eight of the ten tracks and many take Ruffin away from his Temptations roots. Ruffin’s voice had a wonderful and smooth tone but the material is challenging for him.

“The Rovin’ Kind” moves in a psychedelic soul direction complete with motorcycle sounds, and an odd melody, which doesn’t quite match his vocal style. “Common Man” would have been a better fit in a country setting and the swinging “I’m Just A Mortal Man” moves him away from his comfort zone.

On the positive side, Eddie Kendrick makes an appearance on “I Miss You (Part 1),” which puts him back on solid ground. “Go On With Your Bad Self” is so over the top that it actually works. ”Blood Donors Needed” has a harder edge as he tackles the urban violence of the day.

Me ‘N Rock ‘N Roll Are Here To Stay finds Norman Whitfield in charge and he composes much of the material and tries to fit it into Ruffin’s style. Ruffin voice is best appreciated when it is not over-encumbered but here it meets Whitfield’s excessive production. The prime example of this approach is the seven minute, synthesizer laden opus “I Saw You When You Met Her,” where Ruffin doesn’t appear until the two minute mark.

He gives a wonderful and jazzy performance on the classic “Smiling Faces Sometimes.” He is at his best on a cover of “Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)” where is explores the gentle soulful side of the song. He also gives soulful performances on the story-songs “No Matter Where” and “City Stars.”

Both albums met with moderate commercial success. Over 40 years after their release, they sound somewhat dated, yet provide a good introduction into the changing music scene of the early 1970’s by one of soul’s better vocalists.


Since I Lost My Baby 45 by The Temptations

June 27, 2012

“Since I Lost My Baby” may not be one of the best known songs by The Temptations or one of their biggest hits but it was one of their best.

David Ruffin supplied one of the better vocal performances of his career to the Smokey Robinson penned lyrics. Robinson produced the track and added strings and a thumping bass that were smooth and tough at the same time.

Released during the late summer of 1965, it rose to number 17 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart. A song well-worth finding.


#1’s by Stevie Wonder

September 5, 2011

I was going to end my series of Stevie Wonder reviews with his last studio album to date, A Time To Love. However, since I own #1’s and it was staring at me forlornly as the last Stevie Wonder album in the box, I decided to include it and finish the series at an even 20 releases.

#1’s was a part of a Motown/Universal series of releases by some of the label’s leading artists. I also own The Temptations disc, and all are released under the title #1’s. They all come in what is proudly proclaimed eco-friendly packaging, which in this case means cheap. Of course if I ever want to throw the CD away, it will have a minimal impact upon the environment.

The title refers to songs that topped Billboard’s Pop, Rhythm & Blues, and Adult Contemporary Charts. As such, the twenty tracks are not necessarily the best of his career, although a number would fall into that category. The material is limited by the theme, and to meet the requirements, the songs had to be released as singles. That left out a lot of superior album tracks. It adds up to a nice overview of his career from a singles perspective.

The tracks are taken from all periods of his career. Naturally the most memorable songs derive from the 1970s. The six song run of “Superstition,” “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life,” “Higher Ground,” “Living For The City,” “Boogie On Reggae Woman,” and “You Haven’t Done Nothin’” are about 25 minutes of the finest music you can find in one place.

The early material sounds a bit primitive compared to what was to follow and it is very apparent on an album of this nature. On the other hand, “Uptight (Everything’s Alright),” “I Was Made To Love Her,” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” are all uptempo, raucous delights.

The album tends to slow down a bit during the second half but that is mainly due to the placement of the songs, as some just do not fit together well.

#1’sis a flawed yet very good album. While there are better Stevie Wonder compilation albums, this one is a nice introduction to his music. If you decide to upgrade in the future at least you can discard it with a clear conscience.

Article first published as Music Review: Stevie Wonder – #1’s on Blogcritics.


My Girl 45 by The Temptations

November 30, 2010

If you play me “My Girl” by The Temptations, I’ll follow you anywhere.

The song was originally written by Smokey Robinson for his own group, The Miracles. After the Temptations heard the song backstage at The Apollo Theater in Harlem, they pestered Robinson to let them record it.

Robinson finally gave the song to them but he chose David Ruffin to sing the lead for the first time with the group.

The Temptations recorded the song Dec. 21, 1964 and by early 1965 it had reached the number one spot on the American singles charts.

ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE ranked it as the 88th best song of all time which I believe is to low.