The Temptations – 1969 – Cloude Nine
A masterpiece in psychedelic soul from The Temptations — perhaps the most perfectly realized album from their years working with Norman Whitfield! The set’s awash in that bottom-heavy, rumbling funk mode that Whitfield brought to the group at the end of the 60s — served up in bold tracks that push the group’s vocals to a whole new level, and which bring in a more righteous sound than anyone might have expected previously from Motown! The centerpiece here is the amazing “Runaway Child” — a really extended number that has all the political soul of a Curtis Mayfield tune — and other titles include “Cloud Nine”, “Don’t Let Him Take Your Love From Me”, “Love Is A Hurtin Thing”, “I Gotta Find A Way”, “I Need Your Lovin”, and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”.
An all time classic from the best black group ever!
A1 Cloud Nine 3.27
A2 I Heard it Through the Grapevine 3.00
A3 Runaway Child, Running Wild 9.58
B1 Love Is a Hurtin’ Thing 2.28
B2 Hey Girl (I Like Your Style) 2.38
B3 Why Did She Have to Leave Me (Why Did She Have to Go) 2.56
B4 I Need Your Lovin’ 2.35
B5 Don’t Let Him Take Your Love From Me 2.31
B6 I Gotta Find a Way (To Get You Back) 2.56
B7 Gonna Keep on Tryin’ Till I Win Your Love 2.32
In Febuary of 1969 the Temptations released Cloud Nine and many people thought what happened to the old Tempts. Well after seeing Sly Stone & the Family Stone having so much success Norman Whitfield in his third album at the helm of the producers chair fo the Tempts decided it was time for change. The first half on the original vinyl version consist of only 3 song which basically carries the whole album. The title track is one of the funkiest songs ever laid to wax with it’s wah-wah guitars and the Tempts voices flowing through the sons, but the best song here is the 9 plus minute version of “Runaway Child Running Wild“. The song will by far blow you away with new lead singer Dennis Edwards dynamic vocal performance. The rythm arrangement of this song is brilliant and Funk Brothers really get down and dirty on this one. Definitely the funkiest song of the 60’s. Side two on the original vinyl is back to business as usual with the Tempts apparently not ready to completly give total control to Whitfields newly refined production style. Overall great album for the first 3 songs on the album which also consist of putting a different twist on a cover version of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” which was also done by Gladys Knight & the Pips and Marvin Gaye respectively. Although the second side is mostly ballads there’s still stong vocal performances by Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams, with most of the leads going to Dennis. A must have for soul music lovers and Temptations fans alike.
Best known for their silky soul vocals and smooth-stepping routines, the Temptations were firmly entrenched as the undisputed kings of Barry Gordy’s Motown stable when cutting-edge producer Norman Whitfield walked into the studio and announced that it was time to shake things up. The resulting freakout became the first half of the stellar Cloud Nine, an album that would become one of the defining early funk sets, with songs that not only took Motown in a new direction, but helped to shape a genre as well. On one side and across three jams, Whitfield and the Temptations would give ’70s-era funk musicians a broad palette from which to draw inspiration. The title track, with its funky soul bordering on psychedelic frenzy, was an audacious album opener, and surely gave older fans a moment’s pause. Only two more songs rounded out side one: an incredibly fresh take on “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” which jazzed up the vocals, brought compelling percussion to the fore, and relegated the piano well into the wings, and “Run Away Child, Running Wild,” an extravagant nine-minute groove where the sonics easily surpassed the vocals. After shaking up the record-buying public with these three masterpieces, the Temptations brought things back to form for side two. Here, their gorgeous vocals dominated slick arrangements across seven tracks which included “Hey Girl” and the masterful “I Need Your Lovin‘.” Funk continued to percolate — albeit subtly — but compared to side one, it was Temptations business as usual. It was this return to the classic sound, however, which ultimately gave Cloud Nine its odd dynamic. The dichotomy of form between old and new between sides doesn’t allow for a continuous gel. But the brash experimentation away from traditional Motown on the three seminal tracks which open the disc shattered the doorway between past and present as surely as the decade itself imploded and smooth soul gave way to blistering funk.
Q (10/99, p.161) – Included in Q Magazine‘s Best Motown Records Of All Time – “…socially concerned, aggressive and bordering on psychedelic. CLOUD NINE was deemed ‘too progressive’….The result still sounds fresh and immediate 30-odd years on.”
CLOUD NINE is a document of American soul music in transition.