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  1. #1

    The Temptations "A Song For You" LP Revisited

    Pulled this lp out and gave it a listen, the first time in years. I always liked it but just never played it much. I was much more a Four Tops fan than a Tempts fan. But this, I think, is their best 70s albums.

    At the time I had long grown weary of the Norman Whitfield albums they were putting out. The long instrumentals and socially conscious lyrics had worn thin. I think Side A of the 1990 lp was great music, but the B side was crap. In any event it was obvious the group needed a new direction.

    Berry Gordy teamed up with Jeffrey Bowen for an lp that is fresh and versatile. Dennis Edwards is featured more on this lp and his range is amazing, from the grit of his vocal on Happy People to the tenderness in his delivery of the titular song. He really showed his stuff here. It turned out to be Damon Harris' last album and he gets in a few licks here and there, though I am not convinced he is on every track.

    Side A is flawless soul music. This side flows and every track is worthy of single release. Only the first three tracks did get single issuance and for whatever reason only had modest success. Shakey Ground crawled into the Pop Top 30 and made it to No. 1 on the soul charts...their last on that chart. Perhaps America had gotten so accustomed to the Whitfield songs that they were slow to accept the new sound. Shakey Ground has been covered numerous times but the Tempts own this. I think The Prophet could have been a hit but the lyrics were foreign to most listeners.

    Side B has its highlights but not all the tracks on that side are produced by Bowen. Memories is a gorgeous highlight and the Tempts enter the realm of songwriting on I'm A Bachelor. There is a stunning outtake from this album, Soulmate, also done by Bowen that mysteriously was omitted from the collection and turned up on a package over ten years later. I think the Woodford & Ivey Firefly might have fit the House Party lp that followed better than this set, and Soulmate would have been a stunning closer for the album.

    I interviewed Lionel Richie in 1977 when the Commodores performed at LSU. A nice man, he was patient and forthcoming with great info. He told Berry Gordy in the early 70s that he really aspired to write music as well as perform it. Gordy bluntly said, "Ok hot shot, write me a hit on the Temptations." He came up with Happy People, a joyful precursor to the later feel-good track All Night Long. He said he was the primary writer on this song and those are Commodores providing the instrumental. The Happy People Instrumental that closes Side A are the funky Commodores.

    Otis Williams said the album had some blood on it. A technical issue during production carried Jeffrey Bowen's voice into the studio where the guys were rehearsing when Bowen expressed exasperation with the guys. Williams was so upset he had a breakdown and wound up in ER. The next day a meeting was called with Gordy and Williams had to be held back from physical contact with Jeff Bowen. Additionally, Bowen took a preference to Dennis Edwards suggesting he take Edwards underwing for a solo career.

    The album happily went platinum with great reviews. But the Temptations expressed no desire to work with Bowen again. When the follow-up House Party album did poorly, Gordy demanded another Bowen production. Wings Of Love was a decent lp but it pales in comparison to A Song For You

  2. #2
    Great Album and the last great LP The Temptations would make during the '70s [IMHO]. Also, for me A Song For You was a rebound after their preceding album 1990. Of course, Otis Williams has written about his clash with Jeffery Bowen during the recording of A Song For You in his book Temptations. My favorites on the set include "Happy People", "Glasshouse", 'Shakey Ground", "Memories" & "Firefly".

  3. #3
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    BayouMotownMan, I can beat you on the number of times I've played the Temptations' 'A Song For You' album! It's my favorite Tempts LP - so much so that I have four different versions of it on CD: the original GCD08035CD Japanese pressing of the 'Two All Time Great Classic Albums', with the abridged 'Masterpiece' version; the European ZD72499 equivalent; the 1991 [[?) 3746352722 US release and the 1998 24-bit remastered 731453093423 version on Polygram. The recording times for 'Glasshouse' and 'Shakey Ground' are significantly different on the latter two releases. I never tire of playing this album. I'm not too musically fussed about 'The Prophet' and 'I'm A Batchelor, but Dennis knocks 'A Song For You' out the park, and 'Firefly' is pure Woodford/Ivey gorgeousness!

  4. #4
    Memories was my favorite cut from the LP, hands down. The tenor's [[Damon Harris ?) voice was so smooth contrasting against Dennis and the strings lit up the background. Dennis may have been involved with Aretha at this time and A Song For You is a reflection of their friendly rivalry.


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Ralph Terrana

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