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Review: Real Gone Offers Temptations From David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks

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David Ruffin - My Whole World EndedThree recent releases from the team at Real Gone Music feature the solo music of David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks, two-fifths of the original Temptations line-up. The label has reissued Ruffin’s first four albums on two single CDs, two to each CD, and has premiered Kendricks’ post-Motown LP Love Keys, for Atlantic Records, on CD.

David Ruffin had departed The Temptations after the April 1968 release of the Wish It Would Rain album, with Dennis Edwards officially joining the group onstage in July and on record in November for the joint effort Diana Ross & The Supremes Join the Temptations. Wish It Would Rain is considered to be the Temps’ final album squarely in the “classic Motown” bag, as producer Norman Whitfield steered them in a “psychedelic soul” direction with their next group-only album, Cloud Nine. The Sound of Young America, however, was abundant on Ruffin’s 1969 solo debut My Whole World Ended.

Its cover depicts an introspective-looking Ruffin, and though the album’s lyrics are filled with woeful tales – perhaps none more so than the bleak “I’ve Lost Everything I’ve Ever Loved” – it’s hardly a depressing or downbeat listen. There’s nary a straight ballad on the set, with grief-stricken lyrics usually set to mid- or uptempo melodies. It’s anchored by the No. 9 Pop/No. 2 R&B title track from a host of writers including Johnny Bristol, Jimmy Roach, Pam Sawyer and its producer, Harvey Fuqua. “My Whole World Ended” is a stunning piece of utterly despairing pop set to an irresistibly dramatic melody, which Ruffin sings as if his whole life depended upon it. Far from ending, the song augured a new beginning for the Temptation.

The numerous producers whose work was tapped to create the album – Johnny Bristol, Harvey Fuqua, Henry Cosby, Ivy Jo Hunter and George Gordy – all put Ruffin’s powerful, versatile voice front and center. Ruffin had a husky rasp that lent itself to expressions of pain and passion, whether crooning tenderly or reaching for his falsetto register for a well-placed shriek of anguish (as he does frequently). None of the songs on My Whole World Ended would have seemed like a radical departure from his lead vocals with The Temptations although the female backing vocals on a number of the tracks lent quite a different quality. Ruffin even engages in a bit of church-inspired call-and-response with the chorus on “World of Darkness.” Another atypical track is Bristol and Marv Johnson’s “My Love is Growing Stronger” with its unusual (for Motown, anyway) waltz tempo. “Everlasting Love” is a Motown spin on the Buzz Cason/Mac Gayden song that was a hit for Robert Knight (in 1967), Love Affair (in 1968), Carl Carlton (in 1974) – just to name a few of the artists who have had chart success with the driving melody! “Flower Child” is early Motown psychedelia, with a funky, Whitfield-style rhythm and a dirty electric guitar.

Follow-up album Feelin’ Good (which doesn’t have a cover of the Anthony Newley/Leslie Bricusse song of that title) again was the work of numerous producers, among them the returning Johnny Bristol, George Gordy and Henry Cosby plus Leonard Caston, Clay McMurray, Al Kent, Terry Johnson, Nickolas Ashford and Valarie Simpson, and even Berry Gordy. It arrived later in 1969, just months after its predecessor, with a freshly-minted cover of Jackie DeShannon’s hit “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” one of the tracks here to subtly add a contemporary edge with sitar. Other tracks were actually recorded prior to sessions for Ruffin’s first album. Though there’s still plenty of Despair, Ruffin-Style, it’s a lighter listen than My Whole World Ended, too.

The boisterous and brassy “I Could Never Be President” (“…just as long as I’m lovin’ you!”) arrived at Motown from southern soul scribes “We Three,” a.k.a. Homer Banks, Bettye Crutcher and Raymond Jackson. Closer to home, Gladys Knight, her brother and Pip Merald Knight and Johnny Bristol penned “I Pray Everyday You Won’t Regret Leaving Me,” which sizzles thanks to Ruffin’s dynamic vocal on its shifting melody. He can’t top Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s recording of Ashford and Simpson’s “What You Gave Me” (which recalls “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” in its melody and arrangement) but comes close on this sweet track.  Another Motown great, Smokey Robinson, co-wrote “The Letter.”

Despite the variety of material, Ruffin simply wasn’t capable of turning in a less-than-authentic vocal performance. Berry Gordy oversaw the full-tilt gospel of “I’m So Glad I Fell for You” with the choir (credited as The Hal Davis Singers) and the requisite organ; on the other end of the spectrum is a straightforward cover of Dave Mason’s “Feelin’ Alright” (why wasn’t that selected as the album’s title?) with the familiar piano part of the Joe Cocker recording. Oddly, a couple of tracks sound more like The Four Tops than The Temptations: Clay McMurray’s urgent “I Don’t Know Why I Love You” and Norma Toney, Albert Hamilton and William Garrett’s “One More Hurt.”

After the jump: a look at David Ruffin/Me ‘n’ Rock ‘n’ Roll are Here to Stay and Eddie Kendricks’ Love Keys! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 8, 2014 at 12:46

Release Round-Up: Week of March 4

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Little Feat boxLittle Feat, Rad Gumbo: The Complete Warner Bros. Years 1971-1990 (Warner Bros./Rhino)

The eclectic rock band’s near two-decade run on Warner Bros. is celebrated in this new box set, featuring all the band’s original studio albums, an expanded edition of the live Waiting for Columbus and a bonus disc of recordings sourced from the band’s 2000 box set Hotcakes & Outtakes. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Dr John - Gris GrisThe Grass Roots, The Complete Original Dunhill/ABC Hit Singles / Irma Thomas, Full Time Woman — The Lost Cotillion Album / Professor Longhair, The Last Mardi Gras / Dr. John, The Night Tripper, Gris Gris / David Ruffin, My Whole World Ended/Feelin’ Good / David Ruffin, David Ruffin/Me ‘N Rock ‘N Roll Are Here to Stay / Marilyn McCoo, Solid Gold (Expanded Edition) / Charley Pride, The Gospel Collection (Real Gone Music)

Real Gone’s March madness features a host of titles, including two Mardi Gras-themed offerings from two New Orleans legends: Dr. John’s first album and a double-disc live set from jazz pianist Professor Longhair.

The Grass Roots: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Irma Thomas: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Professor Longhair: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Dr. John: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
David Ruffin #1: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
David Ruffin #2: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Marilyn McCoo: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Charley Pride: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Bob Dylan - 30th ConcertBob Dylan, The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration (Columbia/Legacy)

This multi-artist live tribute to The Bard, recorded at Madison Square Garden in 1992, is reissued as an expanded CD set as well as in a newly-restored DVD or Blu-Ray version with unreleased performances and behind-the-scenes footage.

2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
BD: Amazon U.S.Amazon U.K.

A Beard of Stars DeluxeT. Rex, A Beard of Stars T. Rex: Deluxe Editions (Universal U.K.)

Before Marc Bolan hit the sweet spot, 1970 saw him cutting two albums – the last credited to “Tyrannosaurus Rex” and the first credited to “T. Rex,” respectively – that saw him moving from psych-folk to the kind of music that made him a legend. Both albums are expanded with unreleased demos, outtakes and single material (including beloved glam cut “Ride a White Swan”).

A Beard of Stars: 2CD (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.) / 2LP (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.)
T. Rex: 2CD (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.) / 2LP (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.)

Rufus VibrateRufus Wainwright, Vibrate: The Best of Rufus Wainwright (DGC/Interscope/UMe)

A greatest-hits compilation from the theatrical singer-songwriter, son of fellow-renowned musician Loudon Wainwright III.

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Bob FrankBob Frank, Bob Frank / Peter Walker, “Second Poem to Kamela” or Gypsies Are Important (Light in the Attic)

Light in the Attic kicks off its new Vanguard Vault series exploring the “obscure, non-traditional side of the legendary Vanguard Records archive” with the 1972 self-titled album from Bob Frank (“the best songwriter you never heard” per Big Star producer Jim Dickinson) and the rare 1968 follow-up to Peter Walker’s mystical psych-folk Rainy Day Raga LP.

Bob Frank: LP (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) / CD (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Peter Walker: LP (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) / CD (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Heart Magazine SACDHeart, Magazine / Peter, Paul and Mary, Peter, Paul and Mary (Audio Fidelity)

New, Steve Hoffman-mastered editions of two classic titles on hybrid SACD.

Heart: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Peter, Paul and Mary: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Written by Mike Duquette

March 4, 2014 at 08:32

It’s a “Solid Gold” March From Real Gone with Grass Roots, David Ruffin, Marilyn McCoo, and More

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Grass Roots - ABC Dunhill SinglesWe all know that March comes in like a lion, so it’s altogether appropriate, then, that Real Gone Music comes into March with a roar!  The label’s March 4 slate of eight titles emphasizes classic soul, with detours to vintage pop and country.  And as Mardi Gras 2014 falls on that very date, the sound of New Orleans is celebrated with a few very special releases, too.  From New Orleans, Real Gone presents titles from three bona fide Big Easy legends: Dr. John, Professor Longhair and Irma Thomas.  Sweetening the deal, the soul queen of New Orleans’ release unearths no less than 13 unreleased tracks!  That Crescent City trio is joined by a rare, never-on-CD solo album from The 5th Dimension’s Marilyn McCoo and Real Gone’s first-ever dip into the Motown catalogue with four long out-of-print albums on two CDs from The Temptations’ David Ruffin.  The line-up is rounded out by a collection of gospel sides from country legend Charley Pride and the complete hit A-sides from a group we knew the label would discover “sooner or later” – The Grass Roots!

Hit the jump for all of the details courtesy Real Gone’s press release, plus pre-order links to all titles!  And don’t miss out on the eclectic roster coming from Real Gone this February 4…all of the details are right here! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 22, 2014 at 13:41