Friday, June 25, 2010

398. Anthology- Not the Temptations compilation I wanted to review.

Album: Anthology
Artist: The Temptations.
Year: 1973
Genre: Soul then Funk then Soul again.


Disc 1

  1. The Way You Do The Things You Do
  2. I'll Be In Trouble
  3. The Girl's Alright With Me
  4. Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue)
  5. My Girl
  6. It's Growing
  7. Since I Lost My Baby
  8. My Baby
  9. Don't Look Back
  10. Get Ready
  11. Ain't Too Proud To Beg
  12. Beauty Is Only Skin Deep
  13. (I Know) I'm Losing You
  14. All I Need
  15. You're My Everything
  16. (Loneliness Made Me Realize) It's You That I Need
  17. I Wish It Would Rain
  18. I Truly, Truly Believe
  19. I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)
  20. Runaway Child, Running Wild
  21. Ol' Man River
  22. Try To Remember
  23. The Impossible Dream

Disc 2

  1. I'm Gonna Make You Love Me
  2. Please Return Your Love To Me
  3. Cloud Nine
  4. Don't Let The Joneses Get You Down
  5. I Can't Get Next To You
  6. Psychedelic Shack
  7. Ball Of Confusion (That's What The World Is Today)
  8. Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On
  9. I Ain't Got Nothin'
  10. Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)
  11. Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)
  12. Mother Nature
  13. Love Woke Me Up This Morning
  14. Papa Was A Rollin' Stone
  15. Masterpiece
  16. Shakey Ground
  17. Power
  18. Sail Away
  19. Treat Her Like A Lady

Like most motown acts the Temptations have had their fair share of compilations. In fact there's probably more Temptation Best of Cd's than there were original releases, possibly even more than there were songs. Motown is a fan of repackaging and re releasing and who could blame them? They've got their hands on some incredible recordings and if they want to release them to the general public on a weekly basis then why not? Rolling Stone have decided to include Anthology amongst their top 500 albums but have neglected to mention which of the three versions they're talking about. To be honest it doesn't matter either way because as far as I'm concerned every single issue of this, and almost every other Temptations anthology is a poor cousin to the greatest Temptations anthology of them all- Psychedelic Soul, which if I had my way would sit proudly in the upper echelons of this chart.

To my mind one of the greatest unsung heroes of the music world is a guy named Norman Whitfield who deserves a lot more praise and respect than he gets. Whitfield was a songwriter, producer and arranger whose talent far out shadowed his ability to get along with people. You may not have heard of him but you know his work if only due to his co-writing credit on Heard it through the Grapevine.

In the late sixties Whitfield was working as a songwriter and producer at Motown records. He'd written a few successful hits for the Temptations who at that time were one of the biggest acts in the land. They had a built a reputation based on soulful, croony hits such as My Girl, which is still their biggest hit today. If you wanted a G-rated soundtrack to your seductive attempts then the five singers who made up The Temptations were the guys you turned to. Their music was standard pop fare perfectly crafted and well sung. It's the sort of stuff that makes up the vast majority of their compilations and still gets played constantly on easy listening radio today. It's romantic but nothing special as far as I'm concerned and I'm not the only one.

Whitfield wrote and produced some of these recordings but by 1969 he thought music had moved on and he asked Motown head Berry Gordy if he could take control of the Temptations career and move them in a different direction. He'd been listening to Sly and Family Stone and decided that Soul was all very well but what Motown needed was more Funk. His vision included an increased role for the Funk Brothers, the in-house motown band, and an injection of groove into the Temptations songs. He also decided to tackle the social issues that were rocking the US at the time. The first album released under Whitfield's guidance was Cloud Nine, a two-way bet which features one side of traditional Temptations ballads and another side made up of the new style referred to as Psychadelic Soul. Future albums dropped the ballads and started to focus more on the funk. Songs were no longer written as 3 minute singles but instead were big productions numbers with long instrumental passages and running times around the ten-minute mark.

Eventually the Temptations became annoyed that the focus of their music was moving from their vocals to the instrumental arrangement that Whitfield worked so hard on. They started referring to themselves as Whitfield's backing singers. The band and Norman parted company and the Temptations returned to songs that focused more on their vocals and suited the fans who had become disillusioned with the Whitfield stage of their career.

Consequently most Temptations collections have three distinct parts. The first is the easy listening sound of My Girl and their other chart hits. The middle section contains the songs that Whitfield produced and is much funkier before the easy-listening returns at the end but without the well known hits. My personal recommendation is that you avoid the Anthologies and other career-spanning retrospectives and instead hunt down a collection called Psychedelic Soul a two disc compilation of the Temptations greatest collaborations with Whitfield. There's not a single dud track on it's two hour running length and in addition to great songs you probably know like War, Ball of Confusion and Cloud Nine there are also some fantastic tracks that you'll be delighted to discover (Plastic Man, Psychadelic Shack and Friendship Train). And of course unlike most Temptations compilations, Psychedelic Soul contains the full 11 minute version of Papa was a Rollin Stone, a definite candidate for one of of my favourite tracks of all time.

So by all means enjoy any Temptations best of you can get your hands on but I urge you, I implore you to hunt out Psychadelic Soul and enjoy the two full discs of the funkiest, grooviest and most psychedelic soul ever committed to vinyl.

Highlight: The Funky tracks.
Lowlight: The non-funky tracks. They're not bad but they do pale in comparison.

Influenced by: Sly and the Family stone
Influenced: All modern funk.

Favourite Amazon Customer review quote:
"Iwould like to say that the temptations are my all time group and i just love there songs Ilove the old schoolif you know what i mean the group now its ok and i love them to but i really lovethe older group."

-The Temptations, so good they defy the need for punctuation, capitalization and even the space bar.

So can you resist the Temptation? Let me know below.


  1. Go norman whitfield. And what a great album the '"Shack"" is !!!. Papa was a rolling stone was my Chaos discovery for the year. all 10 or 12 or 15 minutes of the beautiful thing.But the soul stuff is still a bit of fun.

  2. After reading this I thought I'd give Psych Soul a spin. Thanks for putting me onto it.