The Temptations – Reflections

New Door/Universal Music (B0005170-02)

Other than a late-70s detour on the Atlantic label that didn?t work out all that well from a commercial perspective, The Temptations were a Motown fixture for 44 spectacular years.

That?s all over now. Reflections is their first album for New Door Records, a Universal Music imprint. So how do they celebrate the occasion? An entire set of updated remakes from Motown?s ?60s/70s heyday, that?s how. But there?s nothing here they?ve ever wrapped their immaculate pipes around before; the Tempts take their first crack ever at ?Can I Get A Witness,? ?What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted,? ?How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You),? ?Ain?t No Mountain High Enough,? ?I Hear A Symphony? and the title track rather than pointlessly reviving their own smashes, which would be impossible to top anyway.

Tempts founder Otis Williams is the only original member standing, the glue that holds the quintet together decade after decade rather than frontman. Fortunately, the current edition boasts the dynamic presence of G.C. Cameron, who sang thrilling lead on The Spinners? 1970 Motown smash ?It?s A Shame,? later scoring several solo hits for the company and still sounding terrific. Also aboard is Ron Tyson, a member of the Philly-based Ethics prior to joining the Tempts in 1983 and who ably fills the late Eddie Kendricks? high-flying tenor role within the ranks.

The sound is thoroughly contemporary (Steve ?The Scotsman? Harvey and Benjamin Wright split production duties) yet retains enough of the Tempts? impeccable harmonic blend to let you know exactly who?s behind the mic, especially on the tender ballads ?I?ll Be There? and ?Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye).? Tyson steps up for ?Ooo Baby Baby,? sticking close to Smokey Robinson?s vulnerable pleading on The Miracles? original. ?Try It Baby? ? penned by Motown big boss man Berry Gordy for Marvin Gaye ? strikes a bluesy strut tailor-made for steppers and incorporates guest chanteuse Vann Johnson.

This set proves two things. First, a good song lasts forever (seemingly, so do the Tempts). Second, you can take this group off Motown, but their Hitsville roots most certainly endure.

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