The Temptations

Legacy

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The Temptations got a new lease on life in 1998, when they returned to the R&B Top 40 with "Stay" and sold a million copies of Phoenix Rising. They have tried to replicate that success with diminishing success on 2000's Ear-Resistable, which yielded another R&B Top 40 hit in "I'm Here," 2001's Awesome, and now Legacy. The challenge, as sole original member Otis Williams acknowledges in the 20-minute interview accessible online through the CD's enhanced feature, is to straddle a sense of the group's tradition and current styles. Certainly, "Still Tempting," the opening track, prefaced by a Williams spoken introduction, along with the album's title, hark back to the Temptations' history, as do some of the musical and vocal arrangements that provide alternating showcases to soaring tenor and gruff baritone voices. At the same time, the battery of producer/songwriter/musicians responsible for the songs and instrumental beds modestly aims for a semblance of a contemporary sound. There are several appealing numbers, among them "Stay Together," which is a catchy rhythm song, "Love to the Music," which has an excellent groove, and "You Are Necessary in My Life (The Wedding Song)," which begins with sweet a cappella singing. These Temptations can sing, there's no doubt of that. What is in doubt is their distinctiveness. Much of the time, they resemble a Temptations-like vocal group, but rarely do they sound like a particular unit. They are therefore dependent on the material, which for the most part is not all that distinctive, either.

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