Saturday, September 18, 2010
Say These Words of Love, Temptones (1967)
For decades, I have wondered about the 1985 recording of Live at the Apollo, a performance by Hall, John Oates, Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin, long after the latter two had left the Temptations. Daryl Hall has a phenomenal voice and this particular recording had some killer stuff on it. There was a time when I played it right into the ground. But I never really understood what the connection was between the two duos, if there was any at all.
So there I was listening to all the great soul music on my George McGregor and the Bronzettes station on Pandora last week when what popped up but a total obscurity called Say These Words of Love by the Temptones. And guess who the Temptones were? Daryl Hall's early Philly-based, entirely white, band, that's who.
Research Mode ensued. And what a story it is. I wish it were my story.
Daryl Hall grew up in a predominantly black community outside of Philadelphia that was vibrant with a veritable melange of musical influences. He moved to Philly proper when he was a student at Temple University and started hanging in the same scene that included the nucleus of people who became the architects of the Sound of Philadelphia - Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, Thom Bell, the Delfonics, and the Stylistics. The Temptones was the group he formed with several other Temple students. Initially an a cappella quartet, they soon got a rhythm section, left doo-wop behind and moved into straight soul, with Hall as lead singer.
The gigs the Temptones played were often in front of largely black audiences, which reportedly were stunned at the soul sound these white guys were capable of producing. They performed at soul spectaculars, blew other groups out of the water, and ended up with the chance to appear at the Uptown Theatre - which was to Philly what the Apollo was to New York - in a talent show sponsored by James Brown. (They took 2nd place, ahead of the Delfonics.) It was there that Daryl Hall met his idols, the Temptations.
Farewell My Love (a pre-Ruffin ballad when Paul Williams was still co-lead singing with Eddie Kendricks) was particularly well received - and from what I've been able to dig up, Williams mentored them, even arranging an audition with Smokey Robinson.
Though dreams of Motown were not to be, a record deal with another label did follow, and they released a few singles, including Say These Words of Love, accompanied by many of the session musicians that would later back the O'Jays, Jerry Butler and the Spinners as the Sound of Philadelphia became a force to be reckoned with. However, when two of the members got drafted to go to Vietnam, they called it quits. Daryl Hall had already met John Oates out and about, and the rest is history.
So you can see why I want to have an audience with Hall - to learn more about his knowledge of Temptations history would send me reeling for a month, I'm sure. The story of the lifelong friendship of Paul Williams and Eddie Kendricks has not been properly told - hell, it hasn't been told at all - and I believe I am the one who is destined to tell it.