This is the way to hear both of these albums. At the very end of 2000, Motown Records started a new round of two-on-one releases, confined (initially at least) to the U.K. market and the work of the Temptations. Those with reasonably long memories might remember the company's original two-on-one CD releases of the mid- to late-'80s; they were a marketing success but a musical and aesthetic disaster, suffering from poor mastering from substandard sources and the most minimal art work imaginable. These new British issues are an improvement on the same idea, although they're also not as satisfying as they could be. This very same combination of LPs on one CD was tried in the U.S. in the 1980s, and this CD runs circles around that earlier edition.
Live at the Copa was the group's second live album, and it's usually presumed to be a more pop-oriented effort than Temptations Live!, their concert album from two years earlier, done at a very different venue. The Temptations perform a fair number of songs off their Broadway-focused In a Mellow Mood album, the album on whose existence the Copa gig was predicated, but they show real love and affection for the show material. (In fairness, In a Mellow Mood had simply been an extension of a part of their usual repertory, and they extend it even further on this album.) In contrast to a lot of R&B acts who played the Copa, the Temptations didn't stop sounding like themselves at this show, as their rip-roaring rendition of "Get Ready" and the soaring performances of "You're My Everything," "I Wish It Would Rain," "Please Return Your Love to Me," and "I Truly, Truly Believe" attest. The remastering is generally successful, although what seem to be defects in the original master tape come through -- a sudden burst of distortion on "I Wish It Would Rain," and awkward edits here and there between songs. On Temptations Live!, by contrast, the producers went back to the original concert tapes and found edits that had been excised -- that wasn't done here and, good as it sounds, the resulting CD is of slightly lesser quality than the reissue of the first live album. The band sounds very hot at this show, well-rehearsed and spot-on, nowhere more so than on "I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)," in an extended and very sweaty and passionate rendition, where the instrumentalists, singer Dennis Edwards, and the rest of the group all soar into the stratosphere. Bill Upchurch's bass is especially impressive throughout the entire set captured on this recording.
With a Lot o' Soul fares somewhat better on this remastering. The horns on "(I Know) I'm Losing You" sound like they're practically in the same room and "(Loneliness Made Me Realize) It's You That I Need" takes on a truly majestic texture, while "No More Water in the Well" and "Save My Love for a Rainy Day" are simply smooth, brilliantly polished gems in this edition.