“The Temptations had the big hit with Ball of Confusion but the Undisputed Truth (also signed to Motown, and working with the song’s co-writer Norman Whitfield in the producer’s chair) took it way further, bigger, louder. Seriously, did any Motown record before or since rock harder than this? So yeah, take a bow, Mr. Whitfield, and Undisputed Truth for being up to that groove. And then there’s that band I saw at a school dance, maybe Grade ten, doing their own long and sloppy rock take, all jammed out and obviously memorable, because here I am remembering it. I had no idea it was a Motown cover at the time, just caught some of the lyrics and couldn’t help relating. Because that’s what the world was (even fifteen year old me had that much figured out) – a ball of confusion indeed. Just turn on the six o’clock news – everything pumping with paranoia, unease, threat. And the band played on.” (Philip Random)
Zoom is about the future apparently (the 1973 album in question being called 1990), a trip to the moon to be specific, though men had already been walking the moon for four years by 1973, smacking golf balls around even. Either way, this is the Temptations (arguably the greatest all male vocal group ever) together with their producer Norman Whitfield boldly and beautifully going as far (and as long) as they ever would, indeed as far as man ever has, a thirteen minute trip, which if taken at the speed of light would actually get you past Mars. Not bad for a bunch of guys from the wrong side of the tracks, Detroit.
“By the time I was thirteen or fourteen and paying proper attention, there were three versions of I Know I’m Losing You percolating around the radio airwaves: The Temptations’ original, Rod Stewart’s stomping rocker, and Rare Earth‘s stretched out epic. Actually, make that four, because Rare Earth also had a live version which was the best of bunch – rock hard, funky, a powerhouse that just went on, on, on, because sometimes, what’s going down is just too good to stop, so you don’t. A lot of great early 1970s music had this, particularly on live albums. Like the message hadn’t been received yet that the revolution was over and the good guys lost, so just keep pushing, pushing, pushing, this superlative noise must never stop. And as long as I manage to hang onto albums like Rare Earth In Concert, I guess it won’t.” (Philip Random)
“Growing up in suburban wherever back in the latter part of the early 1970s, you didn’t get much so-called black music on the radio, or the record stores for that matter. But every now and then, something epic like Keep On Truckin’ managed to blaze on through. I had no idea who Eddie Kendricks was (though I had heard of the Temptations), but man if my head didn’t turn whenever it came on, particularly the long album version which, to my then fourteen year old ears, just seemed to go on forever in the best possible way, expanding my soul and my consciousness as to what music could and should be. And honestly, it still does.” (Philip Random)
Tracks available on this Youtube playlist (somewhat inaccurate).
The Final Countdown* is Randophonic’s longest and, if we’re doing it right, most relevant countdown yet – the end of result of a complex process that’s still evolving such is the strangely existential nature of the project: the 1297 Greatest Records of All Time right now right here, whatever that means. What it means is over a year of radio, if all goes to plan, and when has that ever happened?
Installment #12 of The Final Countdown* went like this.
1070. Temptations – masterpiece
1069. Blues Project – flute thing
1068. Simon & Garfunkel – we’ve got a groovey thing goin
1067. Prince – automatic
1066. Peter Hammill – the Institute of Mental Health [burning]
1065. Aphrodite’s Child – Aegean
1064. Howard Shore – The Black Meat
1063. Ill Gotten Gains – spirit of 67
1062. John Zorn – the little lieutenant of the loving god
1061. Shadows – wonderful land
1060. Bob Dylan – blue moon
1059. Ultramarine – saratoga (upstate mix)
1058. Keltic Electric – Wild Mountain Thyme
1057. My Bloody Valentine – loomer
1056. John Klemmer – third stone from the sun
1055. Animal Collective – Who Could Win a Rabbit
1054. Grateful Dead – cosmic Charlie
1053. DS Crew – frontier
1052. Todd Rundgren – healing [part 1]
Randophonic airs pretty much every Saturday night, starting 11 pm (Pacific time) c/o CiTR.FM.101.9, with streaming and/or download options usually available within twenty-four hours via our Facebook page.
Masterpiece was the Temptations‘ first album post the mega success of Papa Was A Rolling Stone, and it’s truth in advertising, with producer-writer-arranger Norman Whitfield set free to make the most (in a widescreen sort of way) of the best all male vocal outfit ever. Law of the Land stands out for the way it thunders along, and the tough tale it has to tell.
“To be clear, the stuff that came to be known as Grunge was alive and raw for years before most of the world ever heard about it. Look no further than Slow, straight outa the mean streets of Vancouver’s plush west side, teenagers with an equal love of punk rock and the likes of Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, ACDC, The Rolling Stones (anything and everything as long as it howled). I remember seeing them one night in 1985 at a small club. Maybe thirty seconds into the opening number (a Temptations cover), the singer (a guy named Tom) was up on the front row tables, kicking everybody’s beers over, instigating rage and ecstasy, smashing atoms by the truckload. Bad boys indeed.” (Philip Random)
It’s 1973 and the times may be grim but the Temptations (and producer Norman Whitfield) are in full, expansive, beautiful bloom (riding as they are on the mega-success of 1972’s Papa was a Rolling Stone). But the focus now is not the past, but seventeen years into the future, the dawning of the 1990s, not that not much has changed. There still ain’t no justice.
No Motown act embraced the psychedelic stuff quite so thoroughly as the Temptations, with 1970’s Psychedelic Shack (song and album) their most obvious offering in that regard. “Fact is, there were psychedelic shacks in all three of the suburbs where I served my pre and early teen years (late 60s, tipping into the early 70s). Absolute no-go zones where long-haired freaky people set snares for small children, to be sacrificed unto Satan in acid drenched rituals come the next full moon. Later, I realized they were mostly just teenagers hanging out, and my parents were full of sh**.” (Philip Random)