Classics: The Temptations – Ain’t Too Proud To Beg (Gordy)
50 years, not to say half a century! This is most likely the age of The Temptations‘ ‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg’! Something which might sound like the Middle Age to some of you. Not to mention those of us who were already around a the time…
The groovy ‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg’ most likely marked a turning point for the group. Firstly, because it got them back to #1 on the Billboard R&B charts after a period of relative absence. But probably even more because it saw Norman WhiTfield progressively replacing Smokey Robinson as their main producer. Then brining The Temptations to Psychedelic Soul territories from the beginning of the 70’s…
– From Detroit, MI, the group went thru different names, beginning with The Primes and lastly The Voicemasters by the beginning of the sixties. This before turning themselves into The Temptations and sign a record deal with Motown in 1962. With Otis Williams, Elbridge ‘Al’ Bryant, Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams standing as the original members of the band. And other luminaries such as David Ruffin, Dennis Edwards and Damon Harris joinin’ along with time. Then, last not not least, Ron Tyson and G.C. Cameron to name a few.
The Temptations released their debut-single – ‘Check Yourself’ – back in 1961 on Motown subsidiary label Miracles Records. Eventually scoring their first #1 US R&B hit in 1964 with ‘The Way You Do The Things You Do’. Then toppin’ the Billboard US Hot 100 the same year with ‘My Girl’. Meanwhile opening an impressive series of hits during the following years. From ‘Don’t Look Back’ to ‘Get Ready’, ‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg’ and ‘You’re My Everything’. But also ‘Cloud Nine’ and ‘I Second That Emotion’. This in addition to ‘Psychedelic Shack’, ‘Ball Of Confusion’, ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’ and ‘Masterpiece’. Not to mention ‘Standing On The Top’ along with Rick James or ‘Treat Her Like A Lady’ among others.
Like Earth, Wind & Fire, Kool & The Gang and / or The Commodores, The Temptations pretty much went thru two major periods. The first as a Doo-Wop/Soul band with production work courtesy of Smokey Robinson. And the second seeing them turning themselves into Psychedelic Soul pioneers along with producer Norman Whitfield. This resulting in extra gems such as ‘Plastic Man’ and ‘Law Of The Land’…
– Born in Whynot, MI, baritone singer David Ruffin came to fame as one of the lead singer of The Temptations. This occured during their ‘Classic Five’ period, from 1964 until 1968. He then would sing the leads on classics such as ‘My Girl’ and ‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg’. The latter marking the arrival of Norman Whitfied as the band’s main producer. Therefore progressively replacing Smokey Robinson from then on. And the introduction of Dennis Edwards as the lead singer of the band after Ruffin decided to leave.
David Ruffin‘s career as a solo artist happened to be unfortunately quite sporadic. Reportedly due to his cocaine addiction and the lack of support from Motown. His final Top Ten hit being the 1975 released ‘Walk Away From Love’, with production work by the likes of Van McCoy.
He died at the age of 50 on June 1, 1991, in a Philadelphia, PA, hospital of “an adverse reaction to drugs”.
– Contemporary Music may not have become what it is without Norman Whitfield‘s contribution. As a matter of fact, he might pretty well be the first producer ever who established a sound / an approach as a trademark…
Hailing from Harlem, NY, he and his family relocated to Detroit where he started working with Motown’s head Berry Gordy. Aged 19, he progressively established himself as in charge of the quality control department. A position which allowed him to determine which songs would or would not be released, prior to join the label’s in-house songwriting staff.
He would find his niche in the production though. When he came to collaborate with Marvin Gaye on the memorable ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ back in 1968. Then with Edwin Starr, 2 years after, crafting ‘War’ for him. But even more when he took over Smokey Robinson‘s role as the main producer for The Temptations back in 1966.
From then on, he took the group to a brand new dimension. What he did was changing the nature of the songs, from love matters to the social issues of the time, such as war, poverty and politics. But also experimenting sound effects and production techniques. Eventually getting the group into a darker infectious sound blending psychedelic Rock and Funk. From this liaison which lasted until 1975, came gems such as ‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg’ back in 1966. But also ‘Cloud Nine’ and ‘Ball Of Confusion (That’s What The World Is Today)’. Not to mention the memorable ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’, ‘Plastic Man’ and ‘Law Of The Land’…
Whitfield parted ways with The Temptations coz’ they disliked how he put more emphasis on the instrumentation instead of their vocals. And also because they wished he wrote more romantic ballads for them. This therefore led him to leave Motown and launch his own Whitfield Records imprint. From then, he convinced The Undisputed Truth and Jr. Walker. Respectively producing ‘You + Me = Love’ and ‘Back Street Boogie’ from them. Then Rose Royce who were Edwin Starr‘s backing band while at Motown.
He most likely scored his biggest success ever with ‘Car Wash’ for the latter. A cut which won Whitfield a 1977 Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album. He soon after also composed the theme song for the 1977 motion picture ‘Which Way Is Up?’, performed by Stargard.
Among his biggest productions as well, the mellow ‘Love Don’t Live Here Anymore’ by Rose Royce. And also ‘Do Your Dance’ and ‘It Makes You Feel Like Dancing’. Not to mention ‘Is It Love You’re after’. A jam which British producer Mark Moore sampled on ‘Theme From S-Express’ back in 1988.
Whifield underwent treatment for diabetes and other ailments at Los Angeles’s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in 2008. He fell into a coma, briefly improved, but sadly succumbed to diabetic complications on Sept. 16, 2008, aged 68.