The Temptations Will Help Me Leave On The Wings Of Love
I’ve been trying to write a piece on The Temptations’ Wings of Love for some time now and have never been able to squeeze in the time to say something profound about it. I can’t say anything super-profound about it now, other than it serves as a cautionary tale to those adhering to critical and commercial consensus as their barometer for what they like. This record is a monster, but Wings of Love was a somewhat famous critical and sales flop, given the level of talent assembled. Funkadelic bassist “Billy Bass” Nelson shows up as do Freddie Stewart and Pat Rizzo from the Family Stone. Producer Jeffrey Bowen guided the Temptations to No. 1 R&B chart success with the serious jam “Shakey Ground” and “Happy People,” and they were looking to capture that again.
Bowen had other ideas, fashioning the album as a Dennis Edwards solo project. The other Temptations were not as happy about this prospect, particularly the low levels of their vocals. As one can imagine, tensions arose, and Bowen was fired after this album. Not to dis the other Temptations here, particularly the wonderful Melvin Franklin and Otis Williams, but Edwards really shines here. Perhaps the record isn’t as melodically rich as other efforts, but the groove is definitely there.
Oh, I talked about talent involved: did I mention that Sly Stone himself showed up for a number of songs? Though his work was credited to collaborator Truman Thomas because of tax reasons, Sly’s hand is all over three songs, particularly on the semi-hit “Up The Creek (Without A Paddle)”. Listen to “Billy Bass” on this one! Yeowch!
“Sweet Gypsy Jane” is another Sly collaboration.
Here is a live version of the final Stone/Thomas Collaboration, performed live (ironically) without Dennis Edwards in 1979.
“Paradise” is kinda sappy, but pair it with some video game footage and I’m sold! This YouTube doesn’t do the production justice.
Ballad “Mary Ann” is downright epic–dare I say even Styx or Yes-like in its scope?
This will be my final regular post here at Idolator, as I embark on the greatest journey I have ever known. I’ll be around in some form or fashion, probably talking to robots and industry vets via IM. Thanks!