The Temptations

Psychedelic Shack

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With everything the Temptations released pretty much guaranteed to turn to gold, not to mention platinum, even their tripped-out forays into sweet '60s psychedelic experimentation were sure to fire a string of hits. 1970's Norman Whitfield-produced Psychedelic Shack -- while perhaps a system shock to those fans who grooved to the band's lame-suited, Motown dance-routined R&B classics -- was a magnificent stretch into an epic that ultimately emerged as another in a long line of enduring sets. Deviating from form across the first songs, it was with the whimsical and willful title track (and a big thanks to the band from Georgia retro-ists the B-52's, who took their own homage, "Love Shack," to the top of the charts in 1989) that the Temptations broke their own mold with the acid-drenched party chant: "Psychedelic shack/That's where it's at." Opening that door and venturing outside the nonstop celebration, the band retains that vibe while returning to a slightly more staid stance on "Hum Along and Dance," leaving both the oddly paced "You Make Your Own Heaven and Hell Right Here on Earth" and the totally tripped-out "Take a Stroll Thru Your Mind" out on their own plane entirely. With such a strong collection of songs, it couldn't get much better than that. But, of course, it does, as the Temptations blister through the groovers "It's Summer" and "Friendship Train." And that, of course, just leaves the Whitfield-penned classic "War" to round out the mix. While fellow Motown-er Edwin Starr has etched what is now considered to be the definitive version of the song into the history tablets, the Temptations certainly took their own inspiration and added a unique spin as well. Not much else can be said, except that this is an absolutely outstanding album -- one which has stood the test of time, sounding as fresh as it did upon initial release.

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