For anyone who has a real appreciation for close-knit, tight harmonies, you can't beat the Temptations on ANYTHING they sing. Always on point, they're back again with this offering from early 1967, WITH A LOT O' SOUL, which yielded four hit singles. By this time, the Tempts, aka THE CLASSIC FIVE, were the hottest R&B act on the planet, thrilling fans the world over, and albums like this were the reason why! It sounds just as mesmorizing and fresh today as it did back in 1967!! The gritty emotion of the opening song, the first smash "(I Know) I'm Losing You" with the magnificent tenor vocals of David Ruffin set the stage for what you're going to hear throughout this album...down-to-earth confessions from men telling of love lost and found, hearts broken and healed, and pleas for acceptance and forgiveness wrapped in a soulful and heartfelt package. And let me tell you, these guys NEVER, EVER come off as weak...but more like real men with feelings that aren't afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves.
By now Norman Whitfield was sharing production credits with Smokey Robinson, and you can tell the difference between the two when you hear the songs. Whereas Smokey's songwriting and productions usually were more on the sweeter and gentle side, Whitfield's were more demanding, more anguished, more driving, especially with David Ruffin out in front on most of the tunes, with the notable exceptions of the funky, blues-tinged "No More Water In The Well", a Smokey production -- with the supremely gifted but underrated Paul Williams on the lead vocal; Eddie Kendrick(s)' sweet falsetto guaranteed to seduce on "Save My Love For A Rainy Day", the gorgeous "Two Sides To Love", and still ANOTHER hit from WITH A LOT O' SOUL -- the duet with David, "You're My Everything" (the interplay between these two guys is sheer HEAVEN); and a rare lead vocal by Otis Williams on "Don't Send Me Away", another Smokey production.
The passion of the remaining songs and their lyrics are perfectly handled by Ruffin, who never failed to give less than 100% on any of his vocal performances. He shines on all of these songs, with my favorites being the aforementioned "(I Know) I'm Losing You", "(Loneliness Has Made Me Realize) It's You That I Need" (the harmonies and the arrangement on this song -- WHOA!! and yet another hit), the Holland-Dozier-Holland soundalike "All I Need" (the fourth smash from this, produced by Frank Wilson, who would be teamed with Eddie in his solo career years later) and the down-home, Memphis-like sweetness of "Now That You've Won Me". You simply cannot appreciate music for what it is unless you hear this album. And once you hear it, you'll never have to wonder just why these guys are legends. A MUST HAVE.