Friday, 21 May 2010

The Temptations - Still Here - 2010 - 10/30 International

The Temptations, on the eve of their 50th anniversary, release the first set new songs in six years. A new label, but the same strong Temptations 'wall of sound' vocals set against a contemporary setting. How many of yesteryear's acts skulk around trying to keep alive the flame of a once roaring fire, these guys just keep going, overcoming all obstacles and upheavals and not once have they skipped a beat. The Temptations are true survivors and it's with real, genuine pleasure that they can present their new album, aptly titled "Still Here". The seminal work they have produced since their 'relaunch' with "Phoenix Rising" has been nothing short of phenomenal. Although I have, through personal taste, chosen to not bother with their previous two covers sets, I have more than embraced this album - albeit with one or two reservations. As far as new material goes since the late 1990s, I will be honest and say that I feel that this is - to me at least - definitely not one of the better ones. However, amongst the album are moments of true splendour, wonder and genius.

The highlights on here are genuine highlights and any one track I suggest alone are enough for me to part with my hard earned cash (and trust me, I do.) The powerful vocals of Rookie, Bruce Williamson infuse the Obama-inspired "Change Has Come" can say that this groups can't still produce an inspirational social commentary. I was much more impressed with the SUPERB "One Of A Kind Lady" with a fantastic 80s vibe, complete with slap bass and synths - the steppers could so easily slip into this groove. I'm not too sure about Terry Weeks delving too much into the auto tune though...let the R&B kids have their guys should be showing them how to do it properly and without electronic enhancement. The man behind this gem is none other than Impromp2's Johnny Britt, who has been involved with these guys since the 1990s. Johnny also contributes on trumpet and classy. Johnny and Otis Williams create, again, another massive tune with the lilting "Let Me Catch Your Diamonds". These songs that I have already mentioned, are real growers and are genuinely hook-ridden and catchy. A few plays will have these melodies ingrained on your mind. Now, ain't that what music is all about?! "Hold Me" is another joint piece that owes a great spoken monologue in a Barry White mode, followed by spine-tingling vocal harmonies in their very best setting. This is real quality and the trumpet, flugelhorn and flute make this a real more-ish tune. Oh, but all these songs aside I have to say that the real surprise on here by far is the song that I thought that i would hate the most...purely by it's title!

NEVER did I expect a group like the Temptations sing a song with the word "Shawty" in it...yet we have "Shawtyismygirlooyeah" and it is MAGNIFICENT. It is so...happy, uplifting, summery and something about it seriously touches me and I cannot stop playing's HOT weather and blue skies have resulted in my awarding the track THE song for Summer 2010...and I cannot thank all concerned for this beautiful song. The haunting, atmospheric and slinky "Woman" is yet another real credit to the Temptations. I felt that many other songs lacked conviction or guts and that vocally the guys were too good for the weak backing and the efforts therefore sound as if they are 'going through the motions'. Please set these aside and concentrate on the superior tunes highlighted fine as any of the greatest songs they have produced this new century. An essential purchase.

Barry Towler
The Vibe scribe