Rolling Stone - 9/4/03, p.1474 stars out of 5
- "...The Temptations grabbed the psychedelic bull by the horns, making truly modern black-themed musical statements like no one save Sly and the Family Stone....A well-programmed double-disc compilation of psychedelic-funk essentials."
Mojo (Publisher) - 10/03, p.1324 stars out of 5
The Temptations: Dennis Edwards, Otis Wilson, Richard Street, Eddie Kendricks, Damon Harris, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin (vocals).
Additional personnel: Norman Whitfield (arranger); Dennis Coffey (guitar).
Producer: Norman Whitfield.
Compilation producer: Harry Weinger.
Recorded bewteen 1968 & 1973. Includes liner notes by Leonard Pitts, Jr.
This is part of Motown's "Funk Essentials" series.
Audio Mixer: Suha Gur.
Recording information: 10/1968-12/1973.
Things were changing on the musical landscape in the late 1960s, and the Temptations--stalwarts of Motown's golden age of matching suits, choreographed moves, and songs about innocent romance--were changing too. Though the group's Motown albums from this era are a mixed bag (their new progressive aesthetic was paired with songs hearkening back to the group's mid-'60s sound), Britain's Spectrum Records provides the invaluable service of compiling the best of the Tempts late-'60 and early-'70s "psychedelic soul" material on one set.
The spectacular, driving "Cloud Nine" kicks things off, and the 24-track, two-disc set doesn't let up from there. "Cloud Nine," like much of the group's music of this period, features a longer, open song structure with heavy percussive grooves, distorted, echoing guitars, and vocal call and response. Fans will no doubt recognize the churning "Ball of Confusion" and the amazingly atmospheric "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone," but fine lesser-known singles are here too, the driving, funky "I Can't Get Next to You" and 1973's "Masterpiece" among them. Producer/songwriter Norman Whitfield helped evolve the group's music, and this set is a showcase for his achievements, as well as for the group's stellar performances. This is an essential purchase for any fan of forward-looking funk and soul.