After The Temptations 1976 album The Temptations Do The Temptations, one of soul’s legendary groups found themselves at a musical crossroads. Their last three albums House Party, Wings of Love and The Temptations Do The Temptations hadn’t matched the commercial success that the albums released by The Temptations between 1965 and 1973. During that period, The Temptations had enjoyed fourteen number one albums in the US R&B Charts. However, with their lineup changing and members suffering personal problems, The Temptations’ had lost their Midas touch. To top it all, the unthinkable happened, when The Temptations decided to leave Motown. Their destination was Atlantic Records, where they’d undergo a Philly Soul makeover.

At Atlantic Records, one of the most successful production teams of the time were given the job of the reviving The Temptations’ career. Baker, Harris, Young had established a reputation as one of the hottest production team of the seventies. They’d built up a successful track record, as a one-stop shop for artists. Baker, Harris, Young could provide songs, musicians, arrangers and producers for The Temptations’ first album for Atlantic Records Hear To Tempt You. Would Hear To Tempt You rejuvenate The Temptations’ flagging career?

For Hear To Tempt You Baker, Harris, Young and their Philly friends provided eight of the nine tracks. Norman Harris, Alan Felder and Ron Tyson cowrote Think For Yourself, It’s Time For Love and I Could Never Stop Loving You. Alan Felder, Ron Tyson and T.G. Conway penned Snake In The Grass and Read Between The Lines, while Bruce Gray and T.G. Conway cowrote Can We Come In and Share The Love. Ron Baker and Ron Tyson wrote In A Lifetime and She’s All I’ve Got. The other tracks was Let’s Share The Love, written by The Temptations and Benjamin Wright. Once the material that became Hear To Tempt You was completed, recording got underway at Sigma Sound Studios, Philadelphia.

The lineup of The Temptations that headed to Sigma Sound Studios, Philadelphia to record Hear To Tempt You included lead singer Louis Price, Melvin Franklin, Richard Street, Otis Williams and Glenn Leonard. Accompanying The Temptations were many of The Salsoul Orchestra. This included the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section, plus drummer Keith Benson and bassist Michael “Sugarbear” Foreman, who provided Hear To Tempt You’s heartbeat. They were joined by guitarists Bobby Eli and T.J. Tindall. Adding the percussive sound were Larry Washington on congas and Richard Adderley on vibes. Ron “Have Mercy” Kersey Carlton “Cotton” Kent, Bruce Gray and T.G. Conway all played keyboards, while Don Renaldo and His String and Horn Sound gave Hear To Tempt You its Philly Sound. Arrangers included Norman Harris, Ron Baker and Roland Chambers. Once Hear To Tempt You was recorded, it was released in 1976. Would it rejuvenate The Temptations’ career?

On the release of Hear To Tempt You in 1977, it only reached number 113 in the US Billboard 200 and number thirty-eight in the US R&B Charts. Hear To Tempt You hadn’t rejuvenated The Temptations’ career. Far from it. Instead, it was the least successful album of their career. Two singles were released from Hear To Tempt You in 1977. In A Lifetime which featured Glenn Leonard’s lead vocal reached number twenty-one in the US R&B Charts. Think For Yourself, which featured Louis Price on lead vocal, stalled at number fifty-eight in the US R&B Charts. Just like Hear To Tempt You, the singles failed to replicate the commercial success of previous Temptations’ albums. However, did Hear To Tempt You deserve to fare better than it did? That’s what I’ll now tell you.

Norman Harris, Alan Felder and Ron Tyson cowrote Think For Yourself, which opens Hear To Tempt You. It’s a song with a message, which Louis Price delivers with passion and sincerity. Baker, Harris, Young provide the arrangement’s funky heartbeat while stabs of growling horns, keyboards and swirling string provide the backdrop for Louis powerful, grizzled vocal. Cascading harmonies envelop the vocal, while Ron Baker’s bass drives the arrangement along and Earl Young’s drums add bursts of drama. As Louis scats and hollers, strings dance and horns blaze. After that, The Temptations demonstrate their harmonic prowess, as they show that for them, there was life after Motown.

In A Lifetime is the first of two tracks written by Ron Tyson and Ron Baker, who arranged and produced the track. It’s a slow ballad, filled with heartache and sadness. Earl Young’s drums build up the drama, before keyboards, lush strings, braying horns and harmonies give way to Glenn’s heartbroken vocal. Cooing harmonies sweep in, almost sympathizing with the love that’s been lost. Strings sweep in, and like the, harmonies reflect the hurt and heartache. It’s as if they share the sense of loss and emptiness in Glenn’s heartbroken vocal.

Can We Come In and Share The Love gives The Temptations another opportunity ti showcase their talent when it comes to balladry. Written by Bruce Gray and T.G. Conway and arranged by Roland Chambers, this is one of the most beautiful ballads on Hear To Tempt You. Louis tender, emotive vocal is accompanied by a piano, swathes of lush, quivering string, tight, heartfelt harmonies and drama and emotion courtesy of the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section. The result is a gorgeous ballad from The Temptations, which is something of a hidden gem.

She’s All I’ve Got is the second track written by ex-Temptation Ron Tyson and Ron Baker of the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section. Ron Baker arranged and produced this track. This is another example of how talented Ron Baker was as a songwriter, arranger and producer and is the perfect track to close Side One of Hear To Tempt You.

Snake In The Grass opens Side Two of Hear To Tempt You, and is one of the seven tracks produced Norman Harris. Earl Young’s drums and hissing hi-hats build the drama, before the arrangement bursts into life. From flourishes of piano, blazing horns, dancing strings, wah-wah guitars and a pounding Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section the band kick loose. Spurred on, so do The Temptations. Louis vocal is a mixture of power and passion, as he breathes life and meaning into the lyrics. The rest of The Temptations do their part, their harmonies every bit committed as Louis’ lead. Maybe this is why the track has a real Temptations’ sound, despite the Philly Soul makeover.

It doesn’t long before you realize that It’s Time For Love is one of the highlights of Hear To Tempt You. You wonder why it wasn’t released as a single. Not only does it feature The Temptations at their best, but Norman Harris’ all-star band. There’s a real uplifting Philly Soul sound, with Baker, Harris, Young providing the heartbeat and Don Renaldo’s strings and horns providing the trademark Philly sound. The Temptations can’t fail to be inspired and the arrangement allows to showcase their considerable harmonic and vocal talents. Louis’ heartfelt, impassioned lead is peerless, while the harmonies match Louis for passion and sincerity on this deliciously, uplifting slice of Philly Soul. 

Let’s Live In Peace was the only track not written by Baker, Harris, Young’s Philly friends. Instead, The Temptations and Benjamin Wright cowrote it. Although it’s a decent track, it isn’t a great track. The lyrics have a somewhat twee and gushing quality. At least Louis delivers a vocal that’s filled with emotion. Similarly, The Temptations harmonies are tight and tender. The meandering arrangement has a dreamy sound, with occasional bursts of Earl Young’s drums reinforcing the emotion and sincerity in Louis’ vocal.

Read Between The Lines is a much more uptempo track, with a classy Philly Soul arrangement. Swirling strings, Norman Harris’ guitar and keyboards combine before a tender vocal is swept away atop the floaty string-laden arrangement. His vocal is filled with emotion and sincerity. It’s matched all the way by The Temptations’ cooing, sweeping and later, cascading harmonies. Earl Young’s drums add bursts of drama, while flourishes of strings match the sheer joy in the vocal and harmonies.

I Could Never Stop Loving You closes Hear To Tempt You. Here, Melvin Franklin takes charge of the lead vocal on this ballad. His rich vocal is laden in emotion, while harmonies envelop his lead. Meanwhile swathes of lush strings, rasping horns and vibes combine to create an understated and quite beautiful backdrop. Again, the interplay between Melvin’s lead and the harmonies is peerless and at the heart of this track’s success. 

Hear To Tempt You was neither The Temptations’ most successful nor best album. Through no fault of Baker, Harris, Young who produced Hear To Tempt You, the album disappointed. It certainly wasn’t because of the material or the musicians who played on Hear To Tempt You. Not at all. The musicians who played on Hear To Tempt You included many of The Salsoul Orchestra were some of the most talented and successful of the seventies. What the problem was with The Temptations. They were racked with problems and had lost some of their key members. This meant they were unable to replicate the success they enjoyed between 1964 and 1973. It seemed that the change of label didn’t rejuvenate The Temptations career. 

Despite the problems and loss of personnel, Hear To Tempt You wasn’t without its highlights. Think For Yourself, Can We Come In and Share The Love, It’s Time For Love and Read Between The Lines are the highlights of Hear To Tempt You, while  In A Lifetime is bathed in emotion and heartache. It seemed that despite their track record of commercial success and critical acclaim, Baker, Harris, Young and their Philly friends couldn’t rejuvenate The Temptations’ flagging career.

Following the commercial failure of Hear To Tempt You, The Temptations only released one further album for Atlantic. This was 1978s Bare Back, which stalled at number forty-six in the US R&B Charts. It became The Temptations’ least successful album. After Bare Back, The Temptations returned to Motown, but never quite recaptured the success of they enjoyed between 1964 and 1973. The nearest they came was with 1982s Reunion, when David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks rejoined The Temptations. However, by then music had changed and vocal groups like The Temptations were no longer as popular. The period between 1964 and 1973 remained the most successful period of The Temptations career, when they released some of the best music of their career. Having said that, Hear To Tempt You features some soulful moments and is an intriguing album, where Baker, Harris, Young give The Temptations a Philly Soul makeover. Standout Tracks: Think For Yourself, Can We Come In and Share The Love, It’s Time For Love and Read Between The Lines.


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