The Undisputed Truth – 1971 – The Undisputed Truth
Just listen the thrilling hit “Smiling Faces Sometimes”
the guitars and jamming in “Ball of Confusion” the covers of famous “Aquarius” and “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” and finally “Like a Rolling Stone”.
The year was 1970 and the man behind this project was famous Motown producerNorman Whitfield.
1. You got the love I need – 2.57
2. Save my love for a rainy day – 04:00
3. California Soul – 03:55
4. Aquarius – 02:39
5. Ball of confusion – 10:30
6. Smiling faces sometimes 3.14
7. We’ve got a way out love -02:55
8. Since I’ve lost you – 03:20
9. Ain’t no sun since you’ve been gone – 02:42
10. I heard it through the grapevine– 02:51
11. Like a rolling stone – 06:35
Norman Whitfield was responsible for the radical change in The Temptations’ sound. He brought in some adventure and innovation to Motown. The idea with the Undisputed Truth was problably to try out new stuff and experiment. At least you get this feeling when you look at the sleeves of Cosmic Truth and Higher Than High. The members of the group are not listed, only the studio musicians.
Undisputed Truth has always been regarded as some sort of forever-and-ever warm up band, and not as a real group. Even if Norman saved his goodies for The Temptations to record, it’s not fair to put the Undisputed Truth off as guinea-pigs. All three members had voices that cannot be neglected. Calvin’s and Joyce’s harmonies were like two singing birds around Harris’ great lead. In fact, Temptation’s monster hit Papa Was A Rolling Stone was first recorded by the Undisputed Truth. But their version never reached the same commercial success as Temptation’s Grammy award winning version
The debut album The Undisputed Truth was released in 1971. A soulful record with Motown feeling. They enjoyed a top 3 R&B hit with Smiling Faces Sometimes. A piece of psychedelic soul from Whitfield and his writing partner Barrett Strong. This was their biggest hit and nothing of later material could match this success.
Joe Harris served as main lead singer, with Billie Rae Calvin and Brenda Joyce, formerly of The Delicates, on additional leads and background vocals
The group, in my opinion, got more interesting as time went on. The original trio broke up in the mid-seventies and a new line-up was formed, based around original member Joe Harris. The new people coming in was Taka Boom (sister of Chaka Khan), Virginia McDonald, Tyrone “Lil Ty” Barkley and Calvin “Dhaakk” Stephenson. Whitfield kept on toying with their sound and they underwent a dramatic change in image and sound, resulting in a range from psychedelic soul and funk to black rock. They got dirtier and nastier and shocked the fans with the clear Funkadelic influences on their releases from the second half of the 70’s. Painted faces and white afros became their special trademark.
The group’s music and unususal costuming (large Afros and white makeup) typified the then-popular trend of “psychedelic soul”. A number of their singles became minor hits, and many of them were also songs for Whitfield’s main act The Temptations, among them “You Make Your Own Heaven and Hell Right Here on Earth” and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”. Their single Top 40 hit in the United States was the ominous “Smiling Faces Sometimes”, also originally recorded by The Temptations, which hit #3 on the US pop charts in 1971.
The Undisputed Truth, along with Rose Royce and Willie Hutch, followed Whitfield during his exodus from Motown to set up Whitfield Records in 1975. At this time, Calvin and Joyce left the group, and Harris was joined by new members Virginia “V” McDonald, Tyrone”Big Ty” Douglas, Tyrone “Lil Ty” Barkley, and Calvin “Dhaak” Stephenson. The group’s costuming and style changed as well, becoming even more unusual and Funkadelic-influenced. However, the group had little success at the new label, and faded into obscurity after two more albums, although they charted in the UK in 1977 (#43) with the disco single “You + Me = Love” from the album Method to the Madness