Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The Temptations - Phoenix Rising - 1998 - Motown

If we forget their "For Lovers Only" set for the moment, then I can say with some conviction that this is one of the best and most consistent Temptations albums since 1984's "Truly For You" (see 80s reviews). For Lovers Only was a masterpiece, and this set is as essential, but in a different way. Over 11 years have passed since I bought this, and I still cannot stop playing it as every track is strong, soulful and is aimed at the quality soul lover. Although the line-up changes like the weather, their unique sound remains the same and it is a tribute to the strength and commitment of Otis Williams to keep the flame burning following the sad and early death of Bass, Melvin Franklin. I cannot fault one single track on here - all tracks are worthy of the highest praise possible. A track that will both surprise you and excite you is the first track to be lifted as a single, which is "Stay". The Temptations actually sample themselves with the bassline and guitar riff of their 60s smash, "My Girl", and with the production magnificence of Narada Michael Walden they delivered a top-drawer and totally unmissable summertime smash. This is the sort of track (and album) that grabs your attention.

The following cuts will impress you greatly, too. If ballads are your bag then there are plenty, including a more downtempo reading of For Lovers Only's 1994 cut, "Take Me in Your Arms". This is mouth-watering soul at its very best. Terry Weeks of For Lovers Only has now been a fully-fledged member of the group for 11 years and he still fits like hand in glove. There are some classy dancers and midtempo songs, too that defies the current obsession with the tired hip-hop / RnB formula. The guys had obviously gone into the studio and took time to create a CD of enormous appeal, longevity and quality that I imagine that creativity was taken out of the hands of Motown executives!!! Check the amazing "My Promise". This actually features Theo Peoples on lead vocal, and was recorded prior to his departure. What a powerful singer he is. The Temptations have still to better this track this side of Y2K. This is the sort of soul CD that REALLY sorts the men from the boys! Do not delay in acquiring this album as you can find it dirt cheap on Amazon, and do NOT overlook it. Every track a quality cut and an album that cannot be beaten. SOUL HEAVEN.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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