I'M BEGINNING to think that we may have been a little premature when we said that Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" was insurpassable as the best selling soul single of the year because his fellow Tamla stable-mate, Eddie Kendricks is storming along towards the two million mark with his own advice, "Keep On Truckin' ". For Eddie, it's something of a personal accomplishment because after more than two years of solo work — that's how long ago he left the temptations — he has finally arrived in the big league. During that time, of course, he's had a run of hits, mainly soul monsters but none of which has really carried him into the pop markets.
So, why should that elusive success have come now? Naturally, "Truckin' " is the answer in itself but in truth Eddie has made some singles almost as good.
"I really don't know why it's taken so long," he said, quite obviously slightly puzzled by the situation himself but equally obviously delighted that it had happened. "I believe I've had singles as good as "Truckin' " but they just haven't got through".
I suggested that maybe this success indicated that Eddie's fans wanted him to do more uptempo numbers and that "Truckin' " was, in fact, the perfect dance record.
"Maybe," he half-agreed, "but then we had "Girl You Need A Change Of Mind", which was an uptempo record".
Which of course, is true but "Truckin' " is in a league of its own as far as dance and disco records go.
Eddie's past has been built generally around ballads, so how does he feel that now this uptempo hit has taken him away from his ballads.
"Well, I really don't mind what I sing", he happily confessed, "as long as they aren't those dead songs you know, the ones that don't have anything going for them from beginning to end".
Actually, the acknowledgement of "Keep On Truckin' " is due in part to America's knowledgable DJ's, because they consistently were playing the full length track from Eddie's current Tamla album, simply titled "Eddie Kendricks". In actuality, the release of the single was timely because if it hadn't been pulled when it was, I've no doubt that somebody would have jumped in and covered it. And maybe had a hit! It also marks the first released single since Eddie signed a new, long term contract keeping him within the Motown family for some years to come.
"It's a good contract now and this hit makes up for all the hard times", he laughingly conceded. "It's such a good feeling to be out there at No. 1 and though the two years between don't help the situation, I can now accept them. I'm really elated by it all".
There must be many questioning Eddie's decision to leave the Temps at a time when they were really on top — as they still are, incidentally. But Eddie quickly put that one right:
"No, I can honestly say I've never regretted the decision even once. When I left, I never even thought about going back. It was what I knew had to be done for my own career and though it was a hard decision, once I made it I felt better for it. There was never any friction within the group, though — and the guys are still my dearest friends".
Does "Truckin' " represent a peak in Eddie's career of merely a plateau from which he can go to even greater things?
"Naturally, I believe I can go on to bigger and better things", he confidently predicted, "because as a team. I believe that the people around me are more confident and creative than they have ever been. For example, the songs for my next album — which I'm working on right now — are even better than on the current album. I'm sure that my best is still to come and the next album will show what I mean. It should be ready for release early into the New Year".
And from the upcoming album will presumably come the follow-up to "Truckin' " — will it be another hard-hitting disco winner or will Eddie revert to his ballads!
"You know something", he laughed, "but we really don't have a clue what will come next. It could be fast, slow or whatever".
With the apparent success of "Truckin' " now in this country, the obvious question as to when we can expect to see Eddie in action in Europe was posed.
"Funny thing", he quickly asserted, "but there's a meeting set for this afternoon at which my manager is hoping to be able to set a European tour from".
Meanwhile, in Eddie's own words, "keep on truckin' ". It apparently means that you should keep on doing everything that is positive in life. And I can't think of any advice that would be better taken to heart right now.