Friday, October 28, 2005

Funky Friday - The Temptations

And on the fifth day of psych-pop week, thou shalt get funky...

What better way to cap psych-pop week @ SIART than with a couple of tunes from vocal greats The Temptations. A couple of years ago Motown issued a nice 2CD set called Psychedelic Soul. It's a compilation of tracks from their late '60s and early '70s records, when the band's music began to take on a harder edge and their lyrics began to address the Vietnam war and the plight of the black man in America. What you get is lots of songs about peace, love and harmony, and even a bit of hippy dippy sentiment - all without the hippy dippy music. This stuff is hard and musically adventurous, with some of the tracks running as long as 13 minutes. It combined the soul grooves of it's era with hard rock - "acid rock", if you will - sounds. There are some positively shredding guitar solos, and lots of distortion. Producer Norman Whitfield is a whiz at the mix, and the stereo effects are very cool - the amount of stuff buzzing between left and right can be dizzying. The vocals are as distinctive as ever, with each member getting their spot in the song to shine as well as harmonising beautifully. My folks had a few of their albums, and the one that I heard the most was 1970's Psychedelic Shack. This compilation is notable for a few previously unreleased tracks, including an extended version of the stellar title track Psychedelic Shack (Long Version). Over a crushing breakbeat, wah-wah guitar and clavinet collide with the "incense in the air" as the band runs us through the crazy happenings at the shack - "this place will blow your mind". A great, fuzzy party tune, from an album that also spawned the classics War and Friendship Train. 1972's All Directions album brought the hit single Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On, a groovy strut that has a bit of that Earth, Wind and Fire vibe to it - tight rhythms, vocals and big horns. The funky music sho' nuff turns me on!

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