Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Temptations "Solid Rock" Tops R&B Charts : 40 Years Ago Today

[Temptations Gold]

While the Temptations may have found both commercial and critical  success with their multi-part harmonies, life among The Temptations was anything but harmonious. First to go was Elbridge "Al" Bryant who attacked rival vocalist Paul Williams in late 1963, making way for David Ruffin. After a string of big hits, Ruffin left ( or was fired) to pursue a solo career that never fully flowered. Enter the Temps's psychedelic period. In 1971 after singing lead on the band's #1 pop hit "Just My Imagination ( Running Away With Me)", Eddie Kendricks left. Later that year Paul Williams, an alcoholic in poor health, had to quit.

Abandoned by the group's best know singers, Ruffin and Kendricks, the new Temptations got their revenge when they recorded Solid Rock with two new members,  21 year old Damon Harris and Richard Street. The single, "Superstar ( Remember How You Got Where You Are)" ,is one of the first examples of  the "diss" song that would become so big during the rap era. The message to Ruffin and Kendricks is pretty straight forward:

(Superstar) Good God.
enjoy Your Champagne (And Caviar.)
and Your Chauffeur Drivin' (Fancy Car.)
but Remember How You Got (Where You Are.)
oh-Ho-Ho, 'cause The Same Folks That Made You,
You Better Believe They Can Break You

1972 would be a big year for these Temptations. With All Directions, released in July, came "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone", another #1 pop song. There was no way that the careers of Ruffin and Kendricks could keep up ( although Kendricks would hit #1 with "Keep On Truckin'( Part One)" in 1973).

Today if you want to buy a CD  of Solid Rock on Amazon you'd better be willing to spend $180. Oh, Motown, do us all a solid and bring back Solid Rock!

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