Capturing live rock or soul performances professionally for commercial release was still more art than science on October 3, 1966, when this album was recorded at the Roostertail in Detroit. Technically, Temptations Live! has its flaws -- balance problems and leakages -- but the remastering has compensated for these problems extraordinarily well, and the performance always had about as much energy as any other three albums of the same era. And as fine as their studio sound was, that energy was something that could only be captured in concert. In fact, they fare better than almost any other Motown act of the period on this live album. Berry Gordy always encouraged his acts to try to "mainstream" their sound in concert, which meant the Supremes did numbers from contemporary Broadway shows when they cut live albums, but the Temptations were one act that could get away with this repertory and not seem arch or artificial on stage -- Paul McCartney's "Yesterday" (he must have gotten the biggest kick out of the Temptations covering one of his songs) and Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's "Ol' Man River" just flow out as part of the show, sandwiched between the Smokey Robinson numbers. The producers compensated for the original album's flaws by going back to the unedited tape, which yielded yet another bonus -- in addition to the released album, they found the original finale of "The Way You Do the Things You Do" (which would have made the LP too long) that puts a killer cap on a superb concert recording and fills a gap in their recorded history. The notes are fully detailed as well -- always a nice bonus on a mid-priced CD.
Temptations Live! Review
by Bruce Eder
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