Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"Standing on the Top (Part 1)" by The Temptations featuring Rick James

Song#:  1018
Date:  05/08/1982
Debut:  82
Peak:  66
Weeks:  8
Genre:  R&B, Funk

Pop Bits:  The Temps had been struggling since their last R&B Top 10 in 1976. Personnel and label changes didn't help and by 1982 they were on the verge of disappearing from the charts completely. Something had to be done. A significant step was convincing former Temps Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin to rejoin the group for a tour and an album. Appropriately titled "Reunion," the album needed a convincing lead single and it came courtesy of group member Melvin Franklin's nephew, R&B star Rick James. Written and produced by James, this was to be a comeback single. It partially was. On the R&B front, the song got them back into the Top 10 (#6) while the LP hit #2. At pop, the tune didn't really catch on and stalled in the lower third of the chart. It wasn't as significant of a comeback as expected, but it helped revive the ailing group. The tour was a bit rough as well and after it was all done, Kendricks and Ruffin departed once again leaving the rest of The Temps to struggle through the decade.

ReduxReview:  Although James was an R&B star, he wasn't a major force on the pop chart. So his name on this single didn't mean much in the pop world. This definitely has that RJ funk stamp on it and the tune sounds great. However, it's not one of his strongest pieces and several parts of it sound more like Rick James featuring The Temptations rather than how it was billed. It was a good effort, but ultimately it was a forgettable entry in the Temps catalog.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The Temptations were signed to Motown in 1961 (initially on their Miracle label and then over to Gordy). For three years they struggled to get a hit and along the way even missed out on one. Berry Gordy wrote the song "Do You Love Me" for The Temptations. When it came time to record the song, Gordy couldn't find the group or get in contact with them. Apparently they had left the Hitsville studios to participate in a gospel showcase. Gordy felt he had a major hit on his hands and wanted to get it recorded and out the door right away. Another Motown group struggling for a hit, The Contours, were hanging around and Gordy grabbed them for the song. It ended up being a smash for The Contours hitting #3 pop and #1 R&B (and later again #11 pop in 1988 thanks to the film "Dirty Dancing").


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