I guess I should be ashamed of myself that it’s been so many months I’ve been doing posts and I haven’t tempted y’all with some more Temptations yet. Also, I totally breezed by in a cold medicine stupor that it was the original Style King of The Temptations, Paul Williams’s birthday about a week ago.
As I’ve said earlier on the internet (and have gotten electronic tomatoes for) I’ve always held a slight preference for Paul’s surgically precise vocal style in comparison with David Ruffin’s tendency to go all “Bette Davis” and scene chew his way through his performances. Paul Williams had a tendency to hide his vocal might behind elegant phrasing and judicious application until the lyrical content called for full boil emotions, which, in the pantheon of legendary leading men at Motown, decidedly put him closer towards Marvin Gaye and less towards Levi Stubbs and Ruffin.
I do believe his finest moment was hidden away on the B-side of the Gettin’ Ready LP. First recorded by Brenda Holloway and then Mickey McCullers using a less than elegant backing track, the Paul-led Temptations version gets one of the most elegant Uptown Soul backdrops rendered from the Motown studios, and in typical best of Smokey Album filler (here’s looking at you “Keep It Up” by Martha & The Vandellas), the less pressure for it to be a between the eyes hit record means a far more nuanced story line than some of their mainstream hits. Williams gives the song the kind of stuff that textbook “singing as acting” should be about: it’s worth replay after replay.