Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Temptations - Solid Rock (1972) (320)

There's some disagreement about whether The Temptations were ever able to rock the psychedelic soul sound that Norman Whitfield insisted on when producing some of their albums in this era. Although the singers themselves were never really that into it, it doesn't show in records like this and Pschedelic Shack. The lineup for Solid Rock features the glaring absence of vocalists Paul Williams and Eddie Kendricks, the former who had broken down from alcoholism-related complications and the latter who had been the complement to increasing tension with Whitfield and the label. Richard Street and Damon Harris tried to fill the shoes, but the vocals are outshined by the funky psychedelic solos and swell sounds that characterize much of the album. Indeed, one occasionally tires of the relentless falsetto. Yet the singing shines through on "What It Is" and "Take a Look Around", and the cover of "Ain't No Sunshine" is one of the better renditions that tune has seen (and there are many). The whole album seems torn between two thoughts, the psychedlic funk which Whitfield was forcing the singers to embrace and the friendly grooves they rightly own, like "It's Summer". Regardless, it's a pity that the drama surrounding the album (bitterness towards Kendricks is almost tangible in "Superstar") has led many listeners to discount one of my first favorite Temptations records. Do give it a shot.


1. Take a Look Around
2. Ain't No Sunshine
3. Stop The War Now
4. What It Is
5. Smooth Sailing From Now On
6. Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)
7. It's Summer
8. The End Of Our Road

Gordy, 1972


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