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4.6 out of 5 stars
At Their Very Best
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 7 June 2004
A 2CD retrospective of mostly singles, some in album-length versions, and for once nearly always in stereo. The mono tracks, from 1964-1969, are Ain't Too Proud To Beg, You're My Everything, The Way You Do The Things You Do, Since I Lost My Baby, Run Away Child, Running Wild (single version) and Please Return Your Love To Me, and as usual there is no indication of this for the prospective purchaser. This is especially frustrating since stereo versions of all of these have been available and most have turned up before in stereo on budget compilations.
The collection is drawn exclusively from Motown's Gordy-label recordings (they also made 2 albums for Atlantic in 1977-1978) and begins in 1964, after they had spent two struggling years on the label, with Eddie Kendricks mostly singing lead and Smokey Robinson writing and producing some of his best material. It might have been interesting to have heard something from their earlier work, unfamiliar to me, but perhaps it wasn't considered the Temptations at their very best.
After David Ruffin joined the group in 1963 he gradually began to take over the lead vocal duties, with hits such as the magnificent My Girl and I Wish It Would Rain, though Eddie Kendricks continued occasionally to front songs such as the beautiful Just My Imagination in 1971. David Ruffin too was supplanted, as he became more difficult to work with, by Dennis Edwards from the Contours, who led most of the Norman Whitfield-produced records of the turn of the decade, culminating in the masterpiece Papa Was A Rollin' Stone in 1972.
 
Disc 1 is drawn from this period with one exception, and includes three 1968 collaborations with Diana Ross and the Supremes, but there are altogether 11 tracks from between 1975 and 2000, including the funky and rather good Shakey Ground from 1975, showing how hard it is to continually renew the spark that seemed to come so easily at other times, with shifting line ups and producers not helping.
A song like Don't Look Back, a 1965 B-side later covered by Peter Tosh and Mick Jagger, is infinitely superior to a later A-side such as the ghastly discofied, synthesizer-led, Rick James-produced Standing On The Top from 1982.
 
Stay, taken from the 1998 album Phoenix Rising, actually samples the bass-line and guitar riff from the original My Girl, but is a mediocre song. The removal of most of these latter day efforts would have left a stronger single CD or, if replaced with material from their glory days, a far better double, as they clearly do not on the whole represent them at their best.
 
Two of their lead singers, David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks, plus the tenor Paul Williams and Melvyn Douglas, their trademark bass and occasional lead vocalist, have all sadly passed on and by 1995 only tenor harmony singer Otis Williams was left from the original and early line ups of Motown's must successful group.
Mastering is pretty good with the exception of the most recent track, I'm Here, which has buzzy background distortion - ironically it comes from an album called Ear-Resistible - and My Girl is (unforgivably) slightly truncated. All in all, a curate's egg
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on 30 May 2001
......Band ,Definitive of the Motown Sound.You can't go wrong with this album. It is definitely the best collection of the Temptations' songs. All the classics are here from The Way you Do the Things You Do thru My Girl,Just My Imagination,Treat her Like a Lady to Selfish Reasons. The 2nd. half of the 2nd. Cd is a bit weak as some of the late 90's comeback songs feature. Selfish reasons is good but the rest are lacking. The best (imo) are the 60's tracks,almost all written by Smokey Robinson and Norman Whitfield the best two Motown songwriters. Whatever you think about the 90's songs this album is a must buy as the Motown sound lives. My Girl,why You Wanna Make me Blue, Since I Lost My Baby,I'm Gonna Make You Love Me................. I could be here all day!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 15 April 2013
A very good CD that took me back in time. I really enjoyed the memories it stirred! No music collection of the older generation is complete without this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 3 April 2012
I'm so glad that I purchased this CD, I'm loving the songs, this is a must album for the temptations lovers out there.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 29 December 2011
knew I'd enjoy this album but it was even better than I expected. Great value for money and endless tracks that just go on and on. Easy listening and some great tracks to reminise too. Highly recommended
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 November 2013
shame they do not have groups as good as these guys anymore, their music stands the test of time like all great artists
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 24 September 2010
Having decided I was overdue to get compilations of the Temps, Four Tops and Supremes, I investigated. What a tangled web, and to double check I had to check amazon.com as well.
There were two main problems with compilations of these Motown greats:
-Often the choices are between either authentic versions in mono or stereo versions with the infamous health warning "re-recorded with one or more member of the original group".
-Some of the reviews on amazon cross over between different CDs, creating massive confusion.
So, to remove all confusion, "this review is of The Temptations At Their Very Best".
I am happy to tell you that all the songs up to 1972 (after which I lose interest) are authentic recordings. I agree with Laurence Upton's gripe that six of the tracks from the 1964-69 era are mono, but there are only two of these that are essential to me, Ain't Too Proud To Beg and The Way You Do The Things You Do. As all the rest of the album is in stereo, and all the tracks I want are included, I can easily live with this for £5. A bargain. And by the way, Papa Was a Rolling Stone is the seven minute version.
But oh dear oh dear - I had never realised what "shakey ground" the Temps trod from 1973 onwards. "Standing on the top", indeed - however you feel about Rick James' personal life, this song is a crime against the Motown tradition.
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Great CD and disc one was full of the old classics and disc two there newer hits. Amazed at how this group was so talented and all of the changes made over those Motown years. Good album
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on 25 February 2015
Thoroughly enjoyable. Have been singing and dancing along to it while I am doing the housework and iroing.
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on 4 September 2014
Good CD the modern stuffs not my cup of tea like Eddie Kendricks' fallsetto
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