The Temptations


Composed by Norman Whitfield

Song Review by

Drawing on his hugely successful "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" formula, producer/songwriter Norman Whitfield used an almost identical construction on "Masterpiece." Although another Top Ten smash, the Temptations apparently began to feel like "the Norman Whitfield singers." The haunting, omnipresent bass line, backed by some Latin rhythms, drives the song, and this is topped with, again, steely strings and wah-wah guitar. Lyrically, it's also a portrait of the urban environment at the dawn of the 1970s, with gang activity, theft, and drug abuse running rampant. Although it could be considered a "part two" of the aforementioned "Papa," the song has actually aged very well, and is as powerful today as it was in 1972.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Masterpiece 1973 Motown / Uni / Universal 13:50
Papa Was a Rolling Stone 1989 Dynamic 4:27
Billboard Top R&B Hits: 1973 1990
Various Artists
Rhino 4:25
Live in Concert 1991 Kultur Video
Emperors of Soul 1994 Motown / Universal 4:21
Anthology 1995 Motown 4:21
Motown Year By Year: The Sound of Young America, 1973 1995
Various Artists
Motown 4:23
The Best of the Temptations [Wise Buy] 1996 Disky / Wise Buy 4:28
The Temptations Collection 1999 Prism Leisure / Prism Platinum 4:27
20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection:  Best of the Temptations, Vol. 2 - The '70s, '80s, '90s 2000 Motown / Uptown/Universal 4:22
Classic: The Universal Masters Collection 2000 Polydor / Universal 4:22
Greatest Hits [Classic World] 2000 Classic World Productions, Inc. 4:27
Psychedelic Soul [UK] 2000 Spectrum Music 4:22
Original Lead Singers of the Temptations 2001 Eagle Records 4:28
The Best of the Temptations: New Recordings of Their Greatest Hits 2001 K-Tel Distribution 4:25
My Girl: The Very Best of the Temptations 2002 Universal / Universal Music / UTV Motown 4:23
Superbad!: The Soul of the City 2002
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 4:24
Greatests Hits [Brialliant] 2002 Brilliant
Get Ready 2002 Planet 4:28
The Temptations [Euro Trend] 2002 Euro Trend 4:29
Psychedelic Soul 2003 Motown / Universal Music 13:48
In Japan! 2004 Hip-O Select / Motown 2:31
Gold 2005 Motown / Universal 4:24
Legends 2006 Universal International 4:22
No Image 2006 Brilliant / Musicmania
Colour Collection 2007 Universal Music 4:21
Number 1's: The Temptations 2007 Motown 4:22
Smash Hits [Euro Trend] 2007
Various Artists
Euro Trend / IMV Blueline 4:28
Disco Party [Euro Trend] 2007
Various Artists
Euro Trend 4:28
No Image 2007 Barclay 4:21
Playlist Plus 2008 Motown 4:22
Live! [DVD] 2008 ZYX Music
Motown: The Complete No. 1's 2008
Various Artists
Motown / Island/Def Jam / Universal Music 4:23
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Universal 13:53
Classic 2009 Motown / Universal Distribution 4:22
Icons: The Temptations 2009 Universal Distribution 4:21
K-Tel Presents: Super Bad 2009
Various Artists
Micro Werks / Micro Werks/K-Tel 4:27
202 Motown Songs: The Complete #1's
Various Artists
Island/Def Jam / Universal Music 4:23
blue highlight denotes editor's pick