Cloud Nine – The Temptations (1969)

Album no. 159/1001

This is the ninth(!) studio album from the Temptations. This also marks the beginning of their four-year flirtation with something called ‘psychedelic soul’. Be prepared.

This album was a reaction to the direction other soul was moving in, James Brown and Sly and the Family Stone especially. The instruments get more play here than on any previous Temptations album, especially on ‘Runaway Child, Running Wild’, which goes for nine and a half minutes.

This was something VERY different for The Temptations, but it worked; an abridged version of ‘Runaway Child’ was a number one single, and the title track got to number six. Not bad for a first venture into psychedelia.

Have you listened to this album before?

NK: Never heard it. I am reasonably familiar with The Temptations, but just the hits.

CL: Nah. All I know of the Temptations is that they did ‘My Girl’ and as I recently discovered ‘Get Ready’  – which, like all songs worth their mustard, appears on a Girl Talk song (sandwiched between Usher, The Rapture and someone called Trick Daddy). Nothing wrong with that.

NK: They also do a tip top version of ‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg’. None of these are on this though.

Standout track

NK: Oh noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

CL: Hoooooooo nelly this is a funky-fun time. AND I LOVE IT. There isn’t a bad song on here! I think my favourite is the opener ‘Cloud Nine’, but the 9 minute long ‘Runaway Child, Running Wild’ is suuuuuuper good too, even though it has this little kid crying for his mother at the five-minute mark which was wildly unexpected.

NK: This comes out of the gate funky. Real funky. Any you know what, I did not like it. But then suddenly it switches back to sort of regular soul? It’s weird. This version of ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ is NOT for me, I can tell you that much. I don’t mind some of the more standard soul stuff, which is basically everything from track 4 onwards. ‘Love is a Hurtin’ Thing’ is interesting with all the different vocal styles, and the closer ‘Gonna Keep on Tryin’ till I Win Your Love’ is good too. But the funky stuff at the start really threw me. An alarming taste of things to come.

When would be the best time to listen to this?

NK: I reckon if you’ve taken some drugs, but they’re only going to last about 15 minutes. That way you can get right into the aimless funky stuff, then mellow out and fall asleep with the cosy soul numbers.

CL: Whaaaaaat! No way. If you like your boys in a band and a disco guitar wah-wah, this is absolutely for you.  

Why has this album been included on the list?

NK: Because HERE COMES THE FUNK. I am not super excited to be honest.

CL: It’s certainly moving into a funk genre. I don’t think it’s particularly psychedelic – especially compared to some of the other albums we’ve heard – but it’s definitely experimental.  

Will you be listening again?  

NK: I want ‘My Girl’. I want ‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg’. Enough of the nine and a half minute funk odysseys thank you very much.

CL: I think you’re being a bit harsh. Sure, ‘My Girl’ is a stone cold classic – BACK IN 1964. Wake up, old man – the future is here and it is funky.  

Rating

NK: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

CL: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

Listen to Cloud Nine on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.

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