Wednesday, May 18, 2011
The Temptations - The Best And Five Reasons Why
It's Humble Opinion Time. Specifically speaking, my Humble Opinion. You might say, "well then, how humble can it be if he continues to capitalize it?" And I'd say you might have a point at that.
Anyway, it is my feeling that the Temptations, in their classic line-up (pictured above) was the best soul-R'n'B vocal group in rock history. I feel this way for five reasons:
1) Each member had an outstanding lead voice. Even the least of them vocally (yeah, I'm lookin' at you, Otis) could easily be the sole lead singer of any group and make them sound great in the commercial sense, or at the very least distinctive. And speaking of distinctive...
2) Melvin Franklin's voice. The late David Melvin English (Franklin's real name) was the possessor of a voice not merely in the bass range (I use the word merely only for comparative purposes) but in the operatic basso profundo. This range covers two octaves plus a major 4th beginning on bass C and ending on F. Speaking and singing. Not many men in the world have voices in this range. Because of this all of The Temptations' harmonies have powerful low end underpinning that you don't hear with most other groups that have a conventional bass or baritone providing the bottom notes.
3) Songwriters. Bob Dylan (a man who could turn a phrase or two himself) called William "Smokey" Robinson one of America's greatest living poets. Norman Whitfield was an intuitive songsmith who literally guided the group from one winning style to another,more current one. These men gave the group hit after hit after hit.
4) Choreography. The group were along with The Contours and The Pips, Motown Choreographer Cholly Atkins' best pupils. His tutelage combined with the group's (with the possible exception of Franklin,who still made it work) natural gracefulness created a style of stepping that was never to be duplicated.
5) The Funk Brothers. The Temptations had one of the occupants of a very short list of the best studio bands ever. And the most criminally uncredited until recently. Try as you might, you could not manage to sound bad with this band behind you. And these were the Temptations...it was almost unfair.