This is one of the better Temptations albums, in part because of the qualify of the original material and in part because of the (slightly) contrasting styles of its two producers, which gives at least some variation.
So, this has two of the Temptations’ biggest hits and best songs, in “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and “Get Ready.” (I’m sorry to admit that I’ve heard “Get Ready” literally hundreds of times in my life and had no idea it was actually called “Get Ready.” Don’t ask me what I thought it was called…) The other new songs are nowhere near as catchy but are still pretty decent. This being a Motown record there are, of course, a few covers of previous Motown hits, for Marvin Gaye, for the Miracles and for a group I didn’t recognize. I don’t know any of the originals so I cannot contrast the Temptations’ versions but I suspect they’re really not that different.
I’m generally not a fan of Motown arrangements and production. But I’d say that they are pretty close to their zenith on “Ain’t to Proud to Beg.” At least on this record, Whitfield’s version of the Motown sound works better for me than Robinson’s. It feels more dynamic (especially on that song) and it does feel like there’s more room for “soul.” (Would Smokey Robinson be insulted by me saying so?) “Ain’t to Proud to Beg” is the rare song where the Funk Brothers actually sound funky to me.
It also helps that Ruffin sounds more soulful than he sometimes does. Both he and Williams are in fine form here and their songs generally sound closer to my platonic ideal of soul music than the ones Kendricks sings.
For me, this is the rare record that works better because of different producers. (Usually I hate different production styles on the same record.) And it really does help that two of their best songs are here. Still not my thing though.