Hip-O Select releases (especially for Soul and Blues) tend to sell out fast - and this now rare November 2004 US-only CD Remaster for an obscure Temptations album from late 1973 is no exception. But typically - and even if "1990" has acquired something of a fist-fight price tag - it's because the natty little bugger is exclusive and for much of the much - worth it. Here are the tempting details…
US released November 2004 (reissued December 2006) - "1990" by THE TEMPTATIONS on Hip-O Select B-000308602 (No Barcode) comes in an oversized 5" card repro sleeve which duplicates the original American die-cut vinyl album (with Inner Sleeve) and plays out as follows (37:36 minutes):
1. Let Your Hair Down
2. I Need You
4. You've Got My Soul On Fire
5. Ain’t No Justice
6. 1990 [Side 2]
Tracks 1 to 7 are the album "1990" - originally released December 1973 in the USA on Gordy G 966V1 and January 1974 on Tamla Motown STMA 016 in the UK.
All 7 tracks were written and produced by NORMAN WHITFIELD and are in the same vein as the "Masterpiece" and "All Directions" albums that preceded it. "1990" features songs similar to "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" and "Law Of The Land" - great funky soul meets emerging social conscience. Personally it's a period of The Temptations catalogue that I dig so much more than the Sixties stuff. At under 38 minutes and without bonus single sides - admittedly this CD is a tad short on content - but as the cliche goes - what you do get is ‘oh so sweet’.
The attention to detail in the repro of the US album cover artwork too is superb. The hard card sleeve itself is slightly oversized giving it a much chunky and substantial feel. The back of the album cover originally had a lip where you could see the titled "Temptations" inner sleeve - this has been done too. Inside the reproduced inner sleeve is a sepia tinted rice paper sleeve with the HIP-O SELECT details - but it also acts as a protective slip for the CD - something the Japanese MINI LP sleeves do so well. The CD label reflects the original purple Gordy label of the album, and even the barcode is on the outer shrink-wrap rather than being on the card sleeve itself thereby not marking it unnecessarily - all very nice touches - but the really great news is the SOUND...
Hip-O Select use several superlative tape engineers, ERICK LABSON, GAVIN LURSSEN and SUHA GUR among them. You see their names turn up across reviews. The fourth is ELLEN FITTON whose truly fantastic remastering here rivals the extraordinary work she put in on "The Supremes: This Is The Story...The Jean Terrell Years" 3CD Book Set (see separate review) and all 14 of "The Complete Motown Singles..." Book Sets. If you wanted to hear how good "1990" sounds - you can get an idea from iTunes where this is one of only a handful of Hip-O Select albums available for download at a reasonable cost. Try the ballad "Heavenly" or the funky single taken off the album "You've Got My Soul On Fire" - you'll get the idea - wonderfully soulful tunes - and now with the production muscle the songs have always deserved.
Side 2 of the original album had only 2 tracks - "1990" and the near 14-minute "Zoom". "1990" begins with some slightly dated dialogue stuff, but it's still a powerful song - especially lyrically. "How can you spend another dollar on the space race, with families at home starving right in your face..." painfully true some 40 years after the event. After about 2 minutes of band dialogue, "Zoom" gets in its groove like "Papa..." and is fantastic. This is where the remaster really shines - great stuff.
An obvious downside is that this repro sticks too slavishly to the exact album. As you can see from the pitiful playing time above - there was ample room to put the single edits on - "Zoom" (Gordy 7135) - mono mixes from promo singles - outtakes - stuff like that, but no show...
But this is still a recommended purchase - and one that has revelatory sound. Hopefully HIP-O SELECT will extend this kind of re-issue to the very hard to find TEMPTATIONS album "Solid Rock" from 1972 too…
This review is part of my SOUNDS GOOD Music Book Series. One of those titles is SOUL, FUNK and JAZZ FUSION - Exceptional CD Remasters - an E-Book with over 250 entries and 2100 e-Pages - purchase on Amazon and search any artist or song (click the link below). Huge amounts of info taken directly from the discs (no cut and paste crap).