Eddie Kendricks

Eddie Kendricks

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Although his solo outings had been uniformly well-received, Eddie Kendricks had not experienced the level of acclaim that he anticipated upon leaving the Temptations. All that would change with his third collection, simply titled Eddie Kendricks (1973). Thanks to the chart-topping success of the proto-disco "Keep on Truckin'," the vocalist was able to finally crossover into the pop market. Which is precisely the reaction the public had as the Eddie Kendricks album was his first (and last) to land in the Top 20 Pop Album survey at a respectable number 18. While there aren't many radical stylistic departures from his previous effort People...Hold On (1972), there is an overall trend away from his earlier songs that had been steeped in socially conscious soul music.

Immediately, the influence of Philly soul leaps out of "Only Room for Two" sporting judiciously appointed orchestration accenting Kendricks' malleable falsetto as it drifts above the evenly churning tempo. "Darling Come Back Home" begins shrouded in a dark groove that quickly gives way to a comparatively lighter tropical steel drum melody. A return to full form occurs on the heartfelt ballad "Each Day I Cry a Little." After a brief narration, Kendricks' angelic lead takes the listener on a seven-plus minute soul-stirrin' excursion as he unleashes a spiritual freedom sorely lacking in the majority of the vocalists' post-Temptations recordings. The centerpiece of the long-player is the stretched out funkathon "Keep on Truckin'." The sturdy wah-wah guitar, four-on-the-floor backbeat and nearly eight-minute running time made it an instant dancefloor favorite. Much like the lengthy "Girl You Need to Change Your Mind" -- from the aforementioned People...Hold On -- "Keep on Truckin'" is considered an undeniable precursor to disco. Kendricks beatific tenor is custom fit for his update of Chuck Jackson's hit "Any Day Now," and recalls the Temptations' clean and deceptively simple harmonies. Another link to the vintage Motown sound is Funk Brother Number One, James Jamerson (bass), whose solid time keeping is prominently displayed on the midtempo closer "Where Do You Go (Baby)." According to the liner notes, the cut actually dates over a year earlier and was presumably a leftover from People...Hold On.

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