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June 1, 2010 8:09 AM   Subscribe

As undeniably great as the golden age Motown studio musicians were, and as indisputably funky and creative as the arrangements were, you still have to think that maybe it would've been a good idea to release some of The Temptations amazing vocal group artistry in unaccompanied form. Maybe as B-sides or something. Well, that never happened back in the day, as far as I know, but we are extremely fortunate now to be able to hear a capella versions of many of the Tempts biggest hits, in stunningly impressive and thoroughly enjoyable unaccompanied renditions: Runaway Child Running Wild, Just My Imagination, Papa Was a Rolling Stone, Ball of Confusion, Get Ready and Cloud Nine . And folks, there's more a capella from the Tempts and other Motown acts floating around on the Tubes out there, so feel free to link to them in the thread, cause, you know, I Ain't Too Proud To Beg.
posted by flapjax at midnite (39 comments total) 97 users marked this as a favorite

 
This post needs a "." for Ali-Ollie Woodson
posted by briank at 8:13 AM on June 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can I favorite this once a minute, every minute, for the rest of my life?
posted by davejay at 8:20 AM on June 1, 2010


all kinds of awesome, "Papa..." has been my favorite song since I was a baby.
posted by dabitch at 8:50 AM on June 1, 2010


OH SO GOOD
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 8:53 AM on June 1, 2010


Are these a capella or have they removed the backing tracks?
posted by shothotbot at 8:53 AM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Somewhere, in some torrent tracker site or something, or ask around, there is a compilation of A LOT of motown instrumentals, and acapellas. Something like 5 hours. I got the folders from a friend, but it seems like all motown hits are available as acapellas and instruments.
posted by fuq at 8:54 AM on June 1, 2010


I remember seeing a documentary about the early Motown, and Smokey Robinson would produce a lot of the early tracks. He said the he would do the vocal arrangements for most of them, but for the Temptations he would just let them do whatever they wanted. He explained why in one of my favourite quotes:

"'Cause, MAN, them brotha's could blow."
posted by Trochanter at 8:56 AM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't listen at work, but with complete trust and awe, I am pre-emptively favouriting. My evening is made.
posted by maudlin at 8:59 AM on June 1, 2010


Are these a capella or have they removed the backing tracks?

They've removed the backing tracks. These are all the original vocals from the songs we've been hearing for years. The vocals are soloed, in studio parlance.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:00 AM on June 1, 2010


They could indeed. he goosebumps on me are the size of golfballs.
posted by dabitch at 9:01 AM on June 1, 2010


Wow. I love the Temps, and I never imagined the acapellas could be so moving. Giving me the chills.
posted by gnutron at 9:05 AM on June 1, 2010


I look forward to an updated beat-brilliant re-imagining of Just My Imagination (based on those vox) any time soon.
posted by philip-random at 9:08 AM on June 1, 2010


Now this is some of my favorite music, evah. Oh yes, those Temptations. Love beautifully done a capella. Their Just My imagination is sublime. Thanks for your wonderful (as usual) post. Wow, I didn't realize what an angry-impassioned drug reality song Cloud Nine is. Man, that is sizzling.

Can't help loving their music when it's accompanied too. My Girl. Endorphin rushes all over the place. *fans face and leaves computer chair to dance

Crowtations, combines crow puppets and Temptations. It's part of a puppet group called The Brewery Troupe and they turn up at The Bethesda Fountain in Central Park during the summer. Working the crowd. Hey Girl. Lots of fun. In case anybody else likes their renditions of the Temptations, they'll be at the Museum of Natural History August 5th this year.
posted by nickyskye at 9:09 AM on June 1, 2010


Awesome. Reminds me of James Jamersons's isolated bass track from the Four Tops' Bernadette (with other instrument tracks slowly added on top).
posted by rocket88 at 9:09 AM on June 1, 2010


Fixed Link
posted by rocket88 at 9:10 AM on June 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is awesome and wonderful and well-timed. I've been enjoying The Temptations very much the last couple weeks as a result of dumping some Hitsville USA Motown set on my Ipod.

You are an asset to this community flapjax, thank you.
posted by marxchivist at 9:42 AM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I Can't Get Next to You (a capella). Oh hell, this is great...
posted by marxchivist at 9:46 AM on June 1, 2010




Just the other day there was an NPR story about the new Motown Around the World compilation of the big artists singing the big hits in other languages. Muy groovy.
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:53 AM on June 1, 2010


I love this. I see Youtube has the vocal tracks to other Motown acts like Smoky Robinson, The Supremes, etc. Thanks for posting!
posted by various at 9:55 AM on June 1, 2010


Ball of Confusion is, to my mind, one of the best articulations of the modern experience that I've heard; forty years since it was recorded, almost all the lyrics still seem relevant. It makes you realize that, for as much as we think things have changed, a lot of it is all still the same.

I am going to enjoy the hell out of these links when I get home tonight.
posted by quin at 10:14 AM on June 1, 2010


great stuff. coincidentally, just saw this.
posted by peterkins at 10:18 AM on June 1, 2010


Awesome! Wish I had enough downtime to do a Ball Of Confusion remix.
posted by sourwookie at 10:27 AM on June 1, 2010


The thing I love most about that Marvin Gaye vocal, barrett caulk, is how flawed the recording is -- so many pops and breath blown directly into the mic -- but it has never taken away anything from the recording (since you can only hear it in isolation.) A good lesson for would-be home recordists everywhere, that you don't need a flawless, crisp vocal take to earn your stripes, if you have the talent.
posted by davejay at 10:40 AM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


What a great post, flapjax—thanks!

> Reminds me of James Jamerson's isolated bass track from the Four Tops' Bernadette (with other instrument tracks slowly added on top).

And thanks for that, rocket88; I think Jamerson was the first bass player I ever knew by name, and his work has been blowing me away for decades.
posted by languagehat at 11:28 AM on June 1, 2010


You outdo yourself every time you post, flapjax.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:46 PM on June 1, 2010


Aural orgasm.
posted by Splunge at 12:56 PM on June 1, 2010


They've removed the backing tracks. These are all the original vocals from the songs we've been hearing for years.

Both "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" and "Ball of Confusion" seem like they're from different takes than the released songs based on slight differences in phrasing and tone.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:10 PM on June 1, 2010


I'm really, really looking forward to listening to these when I get home tonight.

In the meantime, if anyone would like to buy a consonant I have a surpplus.
posted by Balonious Assault at 1:12 PM on June 1, 2010


these are amazing - thanks much
posted by jammy at 2:16 PM on June 1, 2010


Mille grazie: my favorite Americana via Japan.
posted by francesca too at 2:39 PM on June 1, 2010


Fantastic, thanks so much.
posted by Daddy-O at 3:03 PM on June 1, 2010


Heaven. Just... heaven. "Just My Imagination" is one of the greatest songs ever. Thanks for this!
posted by scody at 3:33 PM on June 1, 2010


Both "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" and "Ball of Confusion" seem like they're from different takes than the released songs based on slight differences in phrasing and tone.

Hmm... I'm not hearing that. Sounds straight up like the old familiar ones to me.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:53 PM on June 1, 2010


A darned interesting take on Ball Of Confusion c/o Undisputed Truth. Longer, jammier, more spaced out, Norman Whitfield still at the controls.
posted by philip-random at 5:28 PM on June 1, 2010


Meta
posted by marxchivist at 6:31 PM on June 1, 2010


Ball of Confusion is, to my mind, one of the best articulations of the modern experience that I've heard; forty years since it was recorded, almost all the lyrics still seem relevant.

"The Beatles' new record's a gas." "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)" was released on May 7, 1970, the day before Let It Be. Let's pretend they meant Abbey Road.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:31 PM on June 1, 2010


Both "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" and "Ball of Confusion" seem like they're from different takes than the released songs based on slight differences in phrasing and tone.

Hmm... I'm not hearing that. Sounds straight up like the old familiar ones to me.


Let me agree with Flapjax here - they sound just like what I know, and I've been playing that bass line on Papa was a Rolling Stone to that track for a quarter of a century. But the Youtubers shouldn't be calling them acapella, that's for damn sure. The vocals have been removed or "soloed" (thanks for that clarification, and the post, Flapjax).
posted by Nick Verstayne at 8:40 PM on June 1, 2010


I can't handle all of this. So very good.
posted by bdave at 3:50 AM on June 3, 2010


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