Rolling Stone - 12/29/94-1/12/95, p.1885 Stars
- Classic - "...Not only was the group able to maintain its identity as it moved from doo-wop to soul harmony to psychedelia and on to funk, but it kept cranking out hits....A document to [The Temptations'] incredible mutability..."
Q - 11/94, p.1464 Stars
- Excellent - "...It all adds up: The Temptations are the greatest vocal harmony group ever. EMPERORS OF SOUL goes most of the way to proving the point..."
The Temptations: Melvin Franklin, Otis Williams, Eldridge Bryant, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, David Ruffin, Dennis Edwards, Ricky Owens, Richard Street, Damon Harris, Glenn Leonard, Louis Price, Ron Tyson, Ali-Ollie Woodson, Theo Peoples.
Additional personnel includes: Eddie Willis (guitar); Detroit Symphony Orchetra (strings); Danya Hartwick (flute, piccolo); Andrew "Mike" Terry (saxophone); Marcus Belgrave (trumpet); Paul Riser (trombone); Johnny Griffith (piano, organ, keyboards); Earl Van Dyke (piano, keyboards); Richard "Pocorn" Wylie (piano); Jack Ashford (vibraphone, marimba, percussion); James Jamerson (acoustic & electric bass); Robert Finch (drums); Norman Whitfield (tambourine); Eddie "Bongo" Brown (congas, bongos, percussion); Paulinho Da Costa (percussion).
Producers include: Dre-Mic, Berry Gordy, Clarence Paul, Smokey Robinson, Norman Whitfield.
Compilation producer: Harry Weinger.
Recorded between 1959 and 1994. Includes liner notes by Harry Weinger and Nelson George.
Digitally remastered by Joseph P. Palmaccio (PolyGram Studios).
This is part of the Motown Master series.
EMPERORS OF SOUL contains 110 songs, including 10 previously unreleased tracks, 4 brand new recordings, and 7 tracks never found on any album. Also included is an 80-page booklet with detailed track by track annotations, rare photos and interviews, and a complete discography.
The Temptations became one of the most successful singles groups of the '60s--ever, actually--by making hearstopping, doo-wop influenced soul ballads and emotionally raw dance music, but also by adapting to the times. In their earliest incarnation, David Ruffin's scratchy soul voice (as heard in "Ain't Too Proud To Beg"), Eddie Kendricks' high creamy croon ("My Girl") and some of Smokey Robinson's best songs (he was their first producer) gave the Temptations appeal to both hardcore rhythm and blues and mainstream pop audiences. When Ruffin and then Kendricks left, the band, now under the auspices of writer-producer Norman Whitfield, soldiered on and, with new lead singer Dennis Edwards, made some of the most funky and socially conscious--and still marvelously commercial--singles of the late '60s and early '70s, including "Ball Of Confusion" and "Papa Was A Rolling Stone."
Because they were almost strictly a singles group, their career was loaded with album tracks and B-sides--some of which would have made ace singles themselves--which history has left on the relics pile and which huge box sets like EMPERORS OF SOUL were created to rescue. The Motown-meets-Stax tune "You've Got To Earn It," which was stuck on the B-side of "Since I Lost My Baby," is about as fine a throwaway as you can bury in such a location; "No More Water In The Well" features a deep-soul vocal by Ruffin that resonates with all the rhythm and blues that came before. There are later treasures too, including such minor '70s singles as "Take A Look Around," a cinematically-orchestrated Norman Whitfield-Barrett Strong ballad about the drug-ravaged inner city. Not surprisingly, that one still resonates, too.