B-side of I Want A Love I Can See
As well as being in many ways the first “proper” Temptations single, following two years of interesting and even occasionally brilliant diversions, the two sides of this record also brought together the two creative minds who would shape the group’s career for another decade to come.
In a rare songwriting collaboration, Smokey Robinson (at this point an experienced Motown writer and producer, who would go on to lead the Tempts through the mid-Sixties Golden Age) here teams up with Norman Whitfield (a young hand, learning on the job, but the man who would eventually oust Smokey in a bloodless coup as the Temptations’ producer and provider of material, leading them through their late-Sixties/early-Seventies “psychedelic soul” era, to be referred to hereafter as their Silver Age). Fair to say neither of them knew what was coming.
It’s good stuff, too, and shares the futurism of the A-side, I Want A Love I Can See, in looking ahead to their upcoming classic material rather than looking back at their records to date, all of which have more in common with each other than anything we’re going to see after their next single.
Those early Temptations records all seem to come from a parallel universe where Fifties doo-wop never quite went out of commercial fashion, and the style of R&B that succeeded it was some sort of weird, almost avant-garde version of the classic doo-wop sound as interpreted by someone from Mars (with often spectacular results, most notably the majestic Dream Come True).
This, on the other hand, sounds like it could plausibly be the first single by the Temptations everybody came to know and love, even if the crucial line-up change which supposedly turned these guys into the “classic” Temptations – David Ruffin for Elbridge Bryant – hadn’t actually happened yet. If you didn’t know it was a B-side, or if you were told this was the follow-up single to I Want A Love I Can See (in place of the actual follow-up, Farewell My Love, a nice enough record but a definite regression), you wouldn’t sense anything amiss; The Further You Look would make perfect sense fitting into that narrative.
After a big opening, something akin to a male choral solo –
– (what does the intro to this sound like, anyway? It really reminds me of something, but I can’t think what it is – there are shades of O Tannenbaum, or Hush Little Baby, or I See The Moon, except I don’t think it’s any of those, and it’s driving me crazy) –
– anyway, after that, things then lock into a smooth, circular groove, all built around the repetition of the title and some tight harmonies. Extremely pleasing, and if it’s a bit thin on first impressions, it turns out to be a sneakily catchy number, which after a few listens actually gets its hooks much deeper into you than the A-side. Once again, it’s the boys themselves who make this; Paul Williams’ lead is again superb, while Eddie and Melvin, despite being used sparingly, each add their own charming ingredients to the mix. It sounds great, actually.
The single stiffed, which temporarily took the Temptations both off the path to success, and away from the two men who’d write them a veritable string of immortal hits – but it was only delaying the inevitable. Funny to think that if you’d have told any of these guys that within a year, Smokey would be leading them up to the top of the charts, and then Whit would take over and have them selling millions of highly-regarded albums, none of them would have believed you – and yet with the gift of hindsight, they were very obviously on to something good here.
MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
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Motown Junkies has reviewed other Motown versions of this song:
- The Majestics (October 1964)
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“I Want A Love I Can See”
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