Thursday, April 12, 2007

THE TEMPTATIONS - Masterpiece @320

The title refers to the album being not the group's intended masterpiece, but Whitfield's. Having already produced songs for the Temptations such as "Smiling Faces Sometimes" and "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" which emphasized his instrumental tracks over the group's vocals, Whitfield goes one step further here.
The title track, at nearly fourteen minutes long, includes only three minutes of vocals from the group, who all share sections of the lead vocal. "Masterpiece" shares space on side one with "Hey Girl (I Like Your Style)", a slow classic-styled ballad led by Richard Street which opens the album. Side two of the LP opens with "Ma", an ode to a hillbilly mother led by Street, Damon Harris, and Melvin Franklin, which was recorded as the title track of Rare Earth's 1973 Whitfield-produced LP. "Law of the Land", led by Dennis Edwards, Street, and Harris, was recorded the same year by The Undisputed Truth. The song is a message track in the tradition of "Don't Let the Jonses Get You Down" from Puzzle People. "Plastic Man", with its lead vocal shared between Edwards, Harris, Franklin, and Street, disparages "plastic people" who operate in backhanded ways, while the eight-minute album closer, "Hurry Tomorrow", is a solo spot for Harris, which explores a hallucinogenic drug trip.
Many critics, and the Temptations themselves, remarked that much of Masterpiece, and especially its title track, sounded more like Norman Whitfield/Funk Brothers solo recordings rather than Temptations recordings. Fans complained directly to the Temptations themselves, and some music journalists began snidely referring to the Temptations as "The Norman Whitfield Chorale Singers" and other such names.
Despite the criticism directed towards the LP, "Masterpiece" became a #1 hit on the Billboard R&B singles chart, and a Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. Its follow-up, the "Papa Was a Rolling Stone"-like "Plastic Man", hit #40 on the Billboard Hot 100. "Hey Girl (I Like Your Style)" also became a Top 40 hit in the late summer/early fall of 1973. This was the final Temptations LP recorded in Detroit and it is a real MASTERPIECE...

"Hey Girl (I Like Your Style)" – 4:36
"Masterpiece" – 13:49
"Ma" – 4:46
"Law of the Land" – 5:08
"Plastic Man" – 5:53
"Hurry Tomorrow" – 8:06

LINK: (copy link to browser and change *!!* to *tt*)

Please leave a comment


Merlinus said...

Your blog is very interesting.
Congratullations from Brazil!

. said...

Thanx! Greatings from the other side of the globe...

Anonymous said...

a truly sensational blog my friend, you obviously love what you do, and it shows

Scott said...

thanks a lot, i've been keeping an eye out for this. big norman whitfield fan.... and the temptations, of course. great blog!

ionplayer said...

And it still works too! Thanks for this, much appreciated. Keep on bloggin'

rrika said...

LAW OF THE LAND was (and is still) a great hit on Barranquilla, Colombia, becaume (I guess) the congas at the beginning of the song. Anyway, it is still danced on parties and estaderos (ballrooms). THANX A LOT FROM BARRANQUILLA!!!!!!!

P.S.: Here people know the song best with his spanish translation: LA LEY DE LA TIERRA