Some felt that the Temps wouldn't survive outside of Motown but the guys are happy with their initial tracks for Atlantic and plan to fight their way back to the very top.
IN NO way do I mean to seem derogatory but I just can't get used to seeing the name of the 'Temptations' on the red and black Atlantic label. And though their Philadelphia record single of "In A Lifetime" is faring quite well in the Stateside soul lists. I don't think that even the most diehard Temptation fan would acknowledge it as one of their all-time greats.
But the move from the mauve and yellow Gordy section of the Motown family is a pleasing switch as far as the fivesome are concerned — as one of the remaining two 'originals'. Otis Williams is quick to point out.
"We are very happy with the album," he enthuses. "It was produced in Philadelphia by the Baker-Harris-Young team and although it will take a little time to adjust to the different surroundings, every studio is basically the same. In fact, it only took us eight or nine days to complete all the vocal tracks for the album and that makes it one of our quickest album sessions.
"On this album, each of us takes a hand in singing lead so it will make something of a departure from our past albums. I guess you could call the album a combination of the Temptations natural style and the Philly Sound because that is exactly how it turned out."
When the Temps signed with Atlantic back in May of this year, the biggest question was where would they now record. After all, they had continually churned out an endless string of hits from within Motown's walls for a decade and half and with a label change would come a sound change, too.
"Actually, the idea was Jerry Greenburg's," Otis credits. "He is the company president but we agreed, anyway. We felt that a label change also required a change in direction for the group.
"We settled on Atlantic, incidentally, because they are a major R&B company and yet they are not overloaded with groups — as were some of the other companies we talked to. We also admired the way the company had handled the Spinners and Aretha, both of whom are close to us and come from Detroit.
"They had a track record as being a safe, reliable company to be with and they immediately saw us in the right perspective."
But, surely, after an uninterrupted run of fiteen years, it must have been hard to leave Motown — especially after the fantastic success that had been enjoyed.
"It really wasn't hard," Otis is quick to point out. "Though people didn't know it, we wanted to leave years earlier but we were contracually bound and had to wait until the agreement expired. I guess you could say we fell out of love a long time back but we stayed together.
"To be honest, we were very unhappy with the last three or four albums we cut at Motown and we felt a change would be the best for all concerned.
"Actually, the final LP we did for Motown was "The Temptations Do The Temptations" but the company didn't work on it. Not because we produced it ourselves but we felt this to be the best album since "A Song For You". It was back to the sound that people wanted from us but, as I say, there was no company support and so it got lost."
Of course, the really peak years were those when the Temps were recording with Norman Whitfield and when the two factions went their own way, there appeared a certain amount of backbiting going on.
"Let me make it clear right away that Norman is and always was a fantastic producer," Otis immediately stresses. "During the seven years we worked together, we were phenomenally successful but towards the end, the sound began to get stale and again, we knew a change was needed.
"But it's a funny business — I would never be surprised to see us working with Norman again one day; although nothing is in the wind right now."
The Temptations have gone through more than their fair share of personnel changes — especially over the last few years. The present line-up includes only two founder members and they are Otis and Melvin Franklin — who actually were together with a group called the Distants way back in the 50's and it was this group that merged with three members of another Detroit group, the Primes (brother group to the Primettes, who were the source for the original Supremes), to form the very first line-up of Temptations.
Today, this long-serving duo are joined by Richard Street, who joined the entourage some five years ago from another Motown group, the Monitors. Then there is Glenn Leonard, who replaced Damon Harris (who had previously taken Eddie Kendricks' place) when Damon left to form Impact. And the newest Temptation is Louis Price, who hails from Chicago and who spent his earlier life as a school teacher but did spend some amount of time with the Impressions.
Louis replaced Dennis Edwards last year when Dennis left to pursue a solo career. (What happened to Dennis, incidentally? His solo album for Motown seems to have been shelved, doesn't it?)
During all of these changes, the unsung heroes — Otis and Melvin — have formed a solid foundation on which the newly revitalised Temptations can again build.
"We have deliberately stayed away from the limelight." Otis says. "We have both put the group always first because we believe that if we allow egos to come into the group, we won't prosper and we have to succeed. So, we form a backbone for the group and I believe that we are honestly ready again to fight our way back with the present line-up.
"How long can we continue? Well, as long as the fans want us, that is the easy answer. Our immediate plans do include a definite trip to Europe for next year so you can judge us for yourself then."
Judging from the customary professionalism that Otis and Melvin have always practised in the past, I wouldn't question their opinion of the 'new' Temptations. And though the single of "In A Lifetime" may not be their best, the album of "Here To Tempt You" will prove to be a pleasant surprise to those doubting Thomases who felt that, outside of Motown, the Temps wouldn't be able to survive.
Though it isn't orthodox Temptations, it is an album that can be favourably compared to any other vocal group album out there today and that seems to be exactly what the quintet want.