Q - 10/99, p.161
Included in Q Magazine's Best Motown Records Of All Time - "...socially concerned, aggressive and bordering on psychedelic. CLOUD NINE was deemed 'too progressive'....The result still sounds fresh and immediate 30-odd years on."
The Temptations: Eddie Kendricks, Dennis Edwards, Paul Williams, Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin (vocals).
Includes original release liner notes by Chester Higgins. Originally released on February 17, 1969.
CLOUD NINE found the Temptations trading in the matching suits, string-sweetened arrangements, and songs about innocent romance that typified their smooth pop of the mid-1960s for groovy threads, socially conscious lyrics, and driving, rhythmic song structures. The title track is all one needs to know that Motown's golden boys have "turned on" in the best way possible. With its open feel (the group's usual singalong chorus formula is replaced by percussion-heavy jams and vocal interchanges) and lyrics about economic hardship and drugs, "Cloud Nine" signaled that the times were a-changin' indeed.
The group's take on "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" reinvents the song via a funky, reggae-touched rhythm and intriguing vocal arrangements. "Runaway Child, Running Wild," with its insistent bongos and fierce, raw-throated leads, further upends the Motown tradition. The rest of the disc returns to the group's classic sound with smooth ballads ("Love Is A Hurtin' Thing"), wistful pop ("Hey Girl"), and old-school soul ("I Need Your Lovin'"), showing the Temps with one foot still in the past, while the other reaches out toward the psychedelic soul of the '70s and beyond. CLOUD NINE is a document of American soul music in transition.