The Temptations – All Directions (1972)

The LP features the #1 hit “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”, a twelve-minute cover of a Whitfield-produced Undisputed Truth single. “Papa” won three Grammy Awards in 1973: Best R&B Performance by a Group for the Temptations, Best R&B Instrumental Performance for Whitfield and arranger/conductor Paul Riser’s instrumental version of “Papa” on the single’s b-side, and Best R&B Song for Whitfield and lyricist Barrett Strong. All Directions was Strong’s final LP as the Temptations’ lyricist; Strong in fact had no direct involvement in the album as both of his compositions for it – “Papa was a Rollin’ Stone” and “Funky Music Sho’ ‘Nuff Turns Me On”, were both covers (originally by The Undisputed Truth and Edwin Starr, respectively). Strong left Motown to restart his career as a recording artist.

According to group leader Otis Williams, the Temptations fought “tooth and nail” not to record “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” or “Run Charlie Run”, a socially conscious Black power track (dealing primarily with the phenomenon of white flight) that called for them to repeatedly call out, in an affected Caucasian accent, “the niggers are comin’!” According to legend, lead singer Dennis Edwards didn’t want to sing “Papa’s” opening lines, because his own father had died on the third of September, but in actuality, Edwards’ father had died on the third of October. In addition, his father was a minister, “a good, steady, religious man”, not a “rolling stone”.[4]

The group was certain that “Papa” and All Directions would flop, and that they would be back to singing ballads like “My Girl” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” again. Although the first single, “Mother Nature”, charted at number 92 on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart, “Papa” was a number one hit and is today one of the Temptations’ signature songs.

Also included on All Directions are the Edwin Starr cover “Funky Music Sho’ ‘Nuff Turns Me On” (the b-side to “Mother Nature”, a Top 30 R&B hit), the Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell cover “Love Woke Me Up This Morning”, and “I Ain’t Got Nothin'”, a rare lead showcase for Otis Williams.

Track Listing:

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. “Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On” Barrett Strong, Norman Whitfield Dennis Edwards, Richard Street, Damon Harris, Otis Williams and Melvin Franklin 3:05
2. “Run Charlie Run” C. Maurice King, Jan Forman Edwards, Street, Harris, Williams, Franklin 3:01
3. “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” Strong, Whitfield Edwards, Street, Harris, Franklin 11:44
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
4. “Love Woke Me Up This Morning” Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson Harris 2:22
5. “I Ain’t Got Nothin'” C. Maurice King, Evans King Williams, Franklin 3:33
6. “The First Time Ever (I Saw Your Face)” Ewan MacColl Street 4:11
7. “Mother Nature” Nick Zesses, Dino Fekaris Edwards 3:08
8. “Do Your Thing” Isaac Hayes Street, Harris, Franklin 3:30

 

Schill Score: 8.25/10

 

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