THE TEMPTATIONS: ‘Wish It Would Rain’ (Motown/UMe/Elemental Music)

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  • THE TEMPTATIONS: ‘Wish It Would Rain’ (Motown/UMe/Elemental Music)

Released in April 1968, this was the final Temptations album to feature David Ruffin, the bespectacled, husky-voiced lead singer whose egomania and disruptive personality would see him fired from the group a few months later after he purportedly wanted the quintet to be redubbed David Ruffin & The Temptations. There’s no evidence of the group’s internal strife in the music, which is impeccably delivered, but change is certainly in the air, with Smokey Robinson, who had produced the group since 1962, only writing and producing two tracks, ‘Cindy’ and ‘Fan The Flame,’ his final collaborations with The Temptations. The lion’s share of material is helmed by rising Motown staffer Norma Whitfield, who would lead the Tempts into their psychedelic soul phase with their next studio album, Cloud 9.

As the final offering from the group’s “classic five” lineup, Wish It Would Rain is a fantastic swansong that makes the end of an era. It contains two US R&B No. 1 singles, both impassioned ballads, fronted by Ruffin: the iconic ‘I Wish It Would Rain’ and ‘I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You).’ Ruffin also shines on ‘Why Did You Leave Me Darling,’ an uptempo dance cut propelled by a driving beat that encapsulates the archetypal Motown style of the 1960s. Ruffin’s foil, falsetto singer Eddie Kendricks, soars on a couple of tracks, including an Ashford & Simpson tune called ‘This Is My Beloved.’ 

The album’s second side also offers opportunities for other, less heralded, members of the famous five a moment in the spotlight; Melvin Franklyn flexes his basso profundo on a rare solo spot, ‘I Truly, Truly Believe,’ while the raspy-voiced Paul Williams fronts the uplifting ‘Gonna Give Her All The Love I’ve Got’ and the frantic dance track ‘No Man Can Love Her Like I Do.’  

Although Wish It Would Rain topped the US R&B Albums chart for three weeks, it has often been overlooked, perhaps because the group’s psychedelic soul albums that followed in its wake garnered more attention. Thanks to a licensing deal with Univeral, Jordy Soley’s Spain-based Elemental Music label has reissued the album on vinyl as part of their lovingly curated 35-title Motown Sound Collection series. 

4/5 (CW) 

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