This Motown quintet began with a merging of two groups, the Primes and Otis Williams and the Distants. Before reaching stardom on their own, they sang behind Mary Wells. The original five Temps were Elbridge Bryant, Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, Otis Williams, and Paul Williams. In 1964, David Ruffin replaced Elbridge; in 1968 David was fired from the group and replaced by Dennis Edwards. Eddie left the Temps in 1971 to start a solo career; Damon Harris took his place in the group. Paul left in 1971, was replaced by Richard Street, and committed suicide in 1973. David died of a drug overdose in 1991, Eddie of lung cancer in '92, and Melvin of heart failure in '95. Below are the 31 songs I have of the Temps.
The Way You Do The Things You Do (2:43; Eddie lead) - This is my favorite song by the Temps. It was also their first hit, reaching #11 in 1964. Turn the balance knob all the way to the right (or unplug the left speaker), and you hear the piano and drums more than you do the other instruments; vise versa when you turn the balance knob all the way to the left (or unplug the right speaker). After the second verse, the key changes from D to E. I like this song for the swing tempo, Eddie's falsetto voice, and the lyrics in which the narrator compares his girlfriend to various objects, including a candle, a broom, money, and honey. Rita Coolidge sang a version of this song in the late 1970s.
I'll Be In Trouble (2:55; Eddie; Melvin on one line) - The narrator will love his girlfriend no matter what she does or says, so by leaving him she would cause him great trauma. I like the sax-playing during the instrumental.
The Girl's All Right With Me (2:50; Eddie) - The narrator is happy that he doesn't have to chase his girlfriend all over town and that she lets other men know she's his exclusive date. The beat is moderate and nice to dance to.
Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue) (2:16; Eddie) - How fickle the girl is! One day she tells the narrator she loves him, the next day she says they're through! The tempo is somewhat fast and the horns play loudly and clearly.
My Girl (2:42; David) - This was the first Temps song to reach #1. With the recording of this song, David took over from Eddie as the primary lead singer. His voice was tenor, but not as high as Eddie's. The paradox used in this song is amazing: "I've got sunshine on a cloudy day / When it's cold outside, I've got the month of May," That's because the narrator's girlfriend cheers him up either when he's feeling down, or when the weather is literally cloudy or wintery, or both. Some years ago I saw a movie with the same title; more recently I heard that a sequel is out.
It's Growing (2:57; David) - I like the opening piano solo. After the first time the chorus is sung, the key changes from F to G. The narrator's love for the girl "grows a little more / Than it was the day before."
Since I Lost My Baby (2:51; David) - Paradox is used in this song, too: "The sun is cold, and the new day seems old"; "Fun is a bore, and with money I'm poor"; and "Good things are bad, and what's happy is sad." Here's another interesting lyric: "There's plenty of work, and the bosses are paying." That may have been true then, but nowadays anorexic corporations are dimming the futures of millions of Americans. In the song, the narrator's future is dim now that his girlfriend has left him.
My Baby (3:01; David) - How interesting it is that one song was released right after another with a similar title! This song however, is upbeat and has a happy mood; this time the narrator is praising his girlfriend for the good qualities he sees in her. "Her personality contains more gold / Than any bank in this world can hold," he says of her.
Don't Look Back (2:50; Paul) - The narrator tries to assure the girl that she can find true love in him after her previous boyfriend left her. Besides drums, I would guess a violin or two was used in this song.
Get Ready (2:37; Eddie) - I like how the low-pitched brass instrument plays in the opening sequence. The narrator is telling the girl to "get ready" for a true love to come her way. My favorite part of the song is the backing vocals: "Get ready, 'cause here I come." Subsequently, a group called Rare Earth also had a hit with this song.
Ain't Too Proud To Beg (2:32; David) - Despite the dance rhythm, this song is a sad one. The narrator's girlfriend wants to leave him, and he'll do anything: cry, sleep on her doorstep, whatever it takes to persuade her to stay. Until this point, Smokey Robinson had written or co-written most of the Temps' hits; after "Get Ready" failed to chart very high, Norman Whitfield took over the songwriting.
Too Busy Thinking About My Baby (2:40; Eddie) - This moderate, swing-tempoed song features horns. Musically, it slightly resembles Mary Wells' "Everybody Needs Love." It wasn't a big hit for the Temps, but it later would be for Marvin Gaye.
Beauty Is Only Skin Deep (2:22; David) - I like this song because its theme is that personality is more important than looks. The narrator's girlfriend is not physically attractive, but her honesty is enough for him. If I wanted to get married someday, I too would want an honest woman more than a tall, blond-haired model.
(I Know) I'm Losing You (2:26; David) - Rare Earth covered this one later, too, although I've never heard their version. Although the narrator's girlfriend has not told him that she intends to leave him, he senses that she will leave him soon. When he looks into her eyes, he sees the face of another man. For this and all subsequent songs until "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone," you can hear each song in different ways by playing with the balance or speakers.
All I Need (3:17; David) - This fast song features horns and a tambourine. The narrator deeply regrets having been untrue to his girlfriend. Because she never complained of his cheating, he feels even more ashamed of what he's done. All he needs is for her to tell him she'll forgive him.
You're My Everything (2:57; Eddie; David on the bridge) - The song opens with some sort of chime-like percussion playing. During each occurrence of the measure in which the word "everything" appears, all instruments sound out loud and clear. As for the lyrics, the title speaks for itself.
I Wish It Would Rain (2:47; David) - The optimism from "My Girl" is gone. The narrator is crying because his girlfriend has found someone new. He is also aware of the stereotype that a man is not supposed to cry, so he hopes for rain to cover up his tears.
I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You) (3:33; David) - Just the previous day, the narrator's girlfriend promised him that she would love him "as long as rivers flow." But now she's changed her mind; she's leaving him. The first two bass notes of the song sound just like those that open "My Girl." I like how the violin and cello play in this song.
Please Return Your Love To Me (2:22; Eddie) - This slow song is another song in which the narrator regrets having wronged his girlfriend and begs her for forgiveness. Now that she's left him, he cries himself to sleep every night and misses her more every day. Now he knows how bad it feels to lose such a special person.
Cloud 9 (3:30; various leads) - This song is probably about coping with poverty and a cruel world by partaking of psychedelic drugs, although Otis denies that in his autobiography.
I'm Gonna Make You Love Me (with Diana Ross and the Supremes) (3:06; Eddie lead for the Temps) - When Eddie sings his lines, a male narrator tells a girl to look out--he's gonna make her love him. When Diana sings her lines, a female narrator tells a man that SHE will do everything SHE can to win HIS heart. Nice slow, swing tempo.
I'll Try Something New (with Diana Ross and the Supremes) (2:20; Eddie lead for the Temps; Melvin on one line) - Smokey Robinson and the Miracles had previously released their version of this song. Eddie sings all of the first verse; Diana sings all of the second verse; on the third verse, Melvin sings the first line, Diana sings the second line, and Eddie sings the rest. The Miracles' version is somewhat slow, but this one is even slower. What a nice octet those two groups made onstage, and would have made in the studio had all three Supremes been present (see my Supremes page)!
Runaway Child, Running Wild (4:53; various leads) - The person to whom the song is sung is a young boy who chooses to run away from home. The boy later finds himself lost in the big city and misses his mother; the narrator reminds the boy that those are dire consequences that running away entails. One consequence the song does NOT mention: once the police find the boy, they might haul him off to a juvenile detention center!
Don't Let The Joneses Get You Down (4:39; Dennis; Melvin and Eddie each sang several lines) - The tempo is moderate; after about the first half-minute, it's upbeat. This song teaches a valuable lesson: keeping up with your neighbors will only get you deep in debt. In fact, they too are heavily in debt and always trying to keep up. So even if your car is old, keep it until it stops getting you where you want to go. And if you want something that you currently can't afford, save up for it.
I Can't Get Next To You (2:53; various leads) - First, clapping and cheering occur; then a piano solo; finally, the action! The narrator has supernatural powers, but they don't make him happy; he won't be happy until he can win the girl's heart.
Psychedelic Shack (3:51; various leads) - This song, which IS about drugs, opens with the sound effect of someone knocking on the door of the shack, followed by the door creaking open, along with clapping and cheering similar to that heard in the previous song. Echo effects occur during one of the times the rap is chanted.
Ball Of Confusion (That's What The World Is Today) (4:04; various leads) - The opening bass solo is cool, with some echoing guitar to spice it up. If the Temps ever sang a protest song against such injustices as racial discrimination and the Vietnam War, this was it. The world is a ball of even more confusion now than then.
Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) (3:47; Eddie; Paul on one line) - On my Temps chart, this song is second only to "Way You Do." The girl the narrator sees out his window may be real, but he can only dream that she loves him, or even knows him! He's another one of those guys for whom it seems love was never meant.
Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are) (2:52; various leads) - I like the opening piano solo. In a way, this song is a lament about people's success being measured by how much money they have. In the verse about the bright lights blinding the superstar, I also sense a theme that money does not buy happiness. The title reminds the star that his success did not happen overnight; he had better stay humble. On this song and the next one, Damon sounds almost like Eddie!
Papa Was A Rollin' Stone (6:53; various leads) - The longest Temps song listed here opens with an awesome drum-bass duet; the other instruments blend in gradually. There is no singing until almost the 2-minute mark. The narrator's father, whom the narrator has never seen, has died. The narrator has heard only negative things about his dad and asks his mother if any of it is true. But his mother answers him only by saying, "Papa was a rollin' stone / Wherever he laid his hat was his home / And when he died / All he left us was alone."
Hey Girl (I Like Your Style) (4:40; Richard) - This song is slow and somewhat quiet. The narrator tells the girl that if she feels like loving him just as he loves her, it's all right; she need not fight it. In the end, the song gradually fades out.
War (recorded in January 1970 by the Temps) - Didn't someone else sing this as well? (Note by Collins: yes; Edwin Starr did.) Another protest song. The narrator tells the bad things about war, pointing out that nothing good really comes out of it. Dennis Edwards takes lead on all, but Paul Williams does the last verse. Note Melvin Franklin's "hup-two-three-four..." keeping the beat in the background of the verses.
Now this is Collins talking.
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