The Temptations – All Directions (1972): On Second Thought

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The Temptations had been permanently tattooed on the airwaves for nearly a decade by the time All Directions, their 16th studio album, surfaced on the shelves.

“The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “My Girl,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Cloud Nine,” “I Can’t Get Next to You,” “Psychedelic Shack” and “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)” are highlights of a short list of this Detroit, Michigan group’s chart-busting songs that became the soundtrack of a generation growing up amid the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War and peace, love and brown rice.

Although All Directions (Motown Records) is a fine endeavor from any angle, there is little argument the 12-minute version of “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” (which as an edited single release raced to No. 1 in the autumn of 1972), stands as its centerpiece. Extended instrumentation, constructed of more spooky wah-wah guitar murmurs, more slithering rhythms and more brooding string arrangements result in some downright wicked jamming.

Another showstopper heard on All Directions is “Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On,” which not surprisingly, wiggles with funkiness. Escorted by a background of chatter, laughter, hand clapping and a call and response chorus, the song sports a real festive fervor. Funky grooves also govern the scene on the prickly “Run Charlie Run,” which addresses racial tensions and originally caused a bit of controversy.

Devised of a breezy trance-like beat, “Do Your Thing” captures the Temptations doing the hip hop thing when the genre was still a twinkle in daddy’s eye, while an adaptation of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (which had been a No. 1 hit for Roberta Flack in early 1972), is performed with a focused delicacy, complemented by the elegant tone of a piano.

Mixing and matching experimental edges with bouts of moodiness and soft and gentle clarity, the Temptations stage traditionally exceptional performances throughout All Directions. The soulful singing, melodious harmonies and command of the material in general is utterly electrifying. A first class act, the Temptations always knew how to turn a tune into a great work of art, and All Directions clarifies just how special they are.

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at [email protected]
Beverly Paterson
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