Forty-five years after forming in Detroit, The Temptations bring some of the most memorable songs in pop and R&B to life like no other group, adding their signature harmonies to these timeless classics. Forty-one years after the last time they issued an album with a similar theme (1965’s The Temptations Sing Smokey), Reflections is a reflection of artists who were there when Motown made history. Otis Williams, the remaining founding member, actually observed the recording of The Supremes’ original version of “Reflections.” Temptation G.C. Cameron, once a member of The Spinners at Motown, was also a frequent presence in the Hitsville studios.
Five tracks are from the legendary Holland-Dozier-Holland writing and production team, with whom The Temptations didn’t record much in the 1960s. On Reflections, The Temps pounce on the material with gusto: they put a haunting, modern R&B stamp on the title track (#2 for The Supremes in 1967); deliver a raucous rendition of “Can I Get A Witness” (Top 25 for Marvin Gaye in 1963), have fun with “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” (Top 10 for Gaye in 1965) and “This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You)” (Top 15 for the Isley Brothers in 1966); and are in a melancholy mood in “I Hear A Symphony” (#1 for The Supremes in 1965).
The Temptations also tackle two songs that were hits for Gaye and Tammi Terrell: “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing” (Top 10 Pop/#1 R&B in 1968), with guest vocals by Vann Johnson, and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (Top 20 Pop in 1967 and #1 Pop for Diana Ross in 1970). In addition, Reflections boasts their energetic take on “Ooo Baby Baby,” the 1965 Pop Top 20 Smokey Robinson & The Miracles hit, as well as a pair of tracks first made famous in 1970 by the Jackson 5 – aching, sensuous versions of “Never Can Say Goodbye” (#1 R&B/#2 Pop) and “I’ll Be There” (#1 Pop and R&B).
The Temptations also put their unmistakable stamp for the first time on “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” Thelma Houston’s #1 disco anthem from 1977 (originally performed by Philly’s Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes, Motown and Thelma made it a classic). Temptations Ron Tyson, Terry Weeks and Cameron trade off electrifying lead vocals on “Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye),” a 1973 R&B #1 from Gladys Knight & The Pips; and on “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted,” originally a 1966 Top 10 Pop and R&B hit for Jimmy Ruffin, brother of former Temp David Ruffin.
One song they did previously record but as a duet with The Supremes in 1968 is “Try It Baby,” which had been a Pop Top 20 for Gaye in 1964. Vann Johnson again guests on the track. Diana’s 1970 Pop Top 20 “Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand)” is the album’s perfect closer, a song more and more relevant to our times. Eight of the album’s tracks are produced by Steve “The Scotsman” Harvey (Bridgette McWilliams, Donnie, Everyday People) with the balance produced and arranged by Benjamin Wright (OutKast, Justin Timberlake, Destiny’s Child, Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson), both of whom have produced recent Temptations successes.
The Temps’ new millennium triumphs include 2000’s Grammy-winning, Top 20 R&B Ear-Resistable; 2001’s Top 30 R&B Awesome, and 2004’s Top 20 R&B Legacy. In 2006, The Temptations, of Williams, Tyson (member since 1983, the lineup’s second longest tenure), Cameron, Weeks and bass singer Joe Herndon, continue to raise the standard by which all singing groups are measured.