Temprees, The


Band members                          Related acts

  line up 1 (1970-73)

- Deljuan Calvin -- vocals

- Jasper 'Jabbo' Phillips (RIP 2001) -- lead tenor

- Harold 'Scotty' Scott -- vocals

 

  line up 2 (1973-76)

NEW - William Norvell Johnson -- vocals (replaced  Deljuan Calvin)

- Jasper 'Jabbo' Phillips (RIP 2001) -- lead tenor

- Harold 'Scotty' Scott -- vocals

 

 

 

- Kilo (Japser Phillips)

 

 

 


 

Genre: soul

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Love Maze

Company: We Produce

Catalog: XPS-1905
Year:
 1973

Country/State: Memphis, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG

Comments: minor hiss on a couple of slower tracks; no skips

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6178

Price: $20.00

 

Produced by Jo Bridges, Lester Snell, and Tom Nixon, the group's sophomore album "Love Maze" wasn't a major change in direction for the soul trio.  While not meant as a criticism, musically William Johnson, Jasper Phillips, and Harold Scott didn't sound all that different from scores of other mid-1970s soul vocal groups (think along the lines of the Chi-Lites, The Delfonics, The Dramatics, and The Stylistics).  Yeah, the occasional Stax horn arrangement ('Wrap Me In Love') was a little different, but the trio's emphasis on slow churn ballads and close-knit group harmonies was pretty standard.  That also meant folks buying a Temprees album already knew what to expect.  That probably puts me in the minority with respect to this album.  While ballads such as the title track, 'Let Me Be the One', and their Paul Simon cover 'Something So Right' were all okay (the latter was actually wonderful), it was the atypical performances that captured by attention - namely up-tempo numbers like 'Wrap Me In Love' and 'At Last'.  I'll also admit these guys generated some of the finest harmony vocals in the business.

 

left to right:  Harold Scott - Jasper Phillips - William Johnson

 

- With Jasper Phillips on lead vocals, 'Love Maze' was a classic, steamy, old-school heartbreak ballad.  To my ears Phillips leads were frequently over-emotive and shrill (certainly the case on this one), but the song was so good (particularly William Johnson and Harold Scott's backing vocals), that you were forced to overlook those other shortcomings.  Perhaps the ultimate compliment, I saw a review of the song where someone labeled it a 'panty dropper' ... made me laugh.  Easy to see why this one was tapped as the leadoff single.   rating: *** stars 

- The Temprees were never known for their up-tempo work, which was a shame since 'Wrap Me In Love' was one of the album's showstoppers.  Kicked along by some tasty Steve Cropper-styled lead guitar and nice Stax-styled horns, this one would have made a killer single.  Phillips sounded like Eddie Lavert this time out.  One of my picks for standout performance.   rating: **** stars

- 'I'd argue 'Let Me Be the One' was a better ballad than the title track.  To my ears the song had a stronger melody than the former and served as a stronger showcase for the trio's harmony vocals.  'Course that's why I'm not a promo man.   rating: **** stars

- I have to admit that I've always liked their smoothed-out cover of 'Paul Simon's 'Something So Right'.  Simon's original remains the classic version, but it always struck me as being a bit raw and not particularly melodic.  The Temprees took care of both of those shortcomings here.  rating: *** stars

- Another up-tempo number, 'At Last'  featured a nifty mini-Moog riff that clawed its way into your head and wouldn't leave.  With an uplifting, breezy melody, this one has always reminded me of something The Staple Singers would have recorded.  Great track.  We Produced tapped it as the album's second single.   rating: **** stars

- 'You Make the Sunshine' started side two with another big ballad.  The trouble with this one was the fact it never really kicked into gear, rather just kind of dragged along with Phillips wandering here and there without any real direction.  We Produced tapped the song as the album's third single.   rating: ** stars

- The swinging 'You Make Me Love You' found the trio melding Al Green-styled sexiness with a great melody and those fabulous backing harmonies.  Why in the world didn't We Produce hit this one as a single ???     rating: **** stars

- 'Come Y'all' (co-penned by Cleophas Fulz - love the name), found The Temprees taking a stab at hardcore funk !!!  Seriously.  And guess what ...  the results were first rate.   With Philips turning in his best Al Green impression and some tasty Stax horns, this was a lost classic.   rating: **** stars

- 'Trust In Me' was another pretty ballad, but other than the flanged guitar effect *which always reminded me of David Gates and Bread), simply lacked anything to make it memorable.  Five minutes after hearing it I couldn't remember a thing about it.   rating: ** stars

- I grew up with The Stylistics classic cover so that's the baseline for all comparisons.  The Temprees version slowed the track down, adding some horns, and giving a bit more emphasis to Linda Creed's surprisingly activist lyrics.  All-in-all a nice cover, though it starts to overstay its welcome towards the end of the six and a half minutes.   rating: **** stars

 

The album was tapped for three singles:

 

 

- 1972's 'Love's Maze' b/w 'Wrap Me In Love' (We Produce XPA-1811)

- 1973's 'At Last' b/w 'Love... Can Be So Wonderful' (We Produce XPA-1812)

- 1973's 'You Make The Sunshine' b/w 'You Make Me Love You' (We Produce XPA-1811)

 

So as a package I guess I'd put this one in the middle of The Temprees stack.  Not the best, not the worst.

 

YouTube has a couple of television performances featuring material from the LP:

 

'Love Maze' on Soul Train

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGeCh_OSsrg

 

'Wrap Me In Love' on Soul Train

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KCxJ7tkKYY

 

 

 

 

"Love Maze" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Love's Maze   (Harold Scott) - 5:21

2.) Wrap Me In Love   (Mack Rice - Mary Williams) - 2:32

3.) Let Me Be the One   (Paul Williams - Roger Nichols) - 4:09

4.) Something So Right   (Paul Simon) - 6:03

5.) At Last   (Harry Warren - Mack Gordon) - 2:57

 

(side 2)
1.) You Make the Sunshine   (Leon Moore) - 4:56

2.) You Make Me Love You    (Leon Moore) - 3:12

3.) Come Y'all   (Leon Moore - Cleophas Fulz) - 4:10

4.) Trust In Me   (Ned Weaver - Milton Ager - Gene Schwartz) - 3:48

5.) People Make the World Go Round   (Tom Bell - Linda Creed) - 6:37

 

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Three

Company: We Produce

Catalog: XPS-1905
Year:
 1974

Country/State: Memphis, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: embossed cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6209

Price: $15.00

 

I've said it in my earlier review, but The Temprees remain one of those consistently overlooked mid-1970s soul vocal groups which is a monumental shame given their talent.  It would be hard, but if I had to pick one, 1974's "Three" would probably the nod as my favorite of the three Tempress studio sets.  Co-produced by Tom Nixon and Lester Snell, musically it wasn't much different from the earlier sets, offering up a mixture of the group's patented ballads and isolated up-tempo numbers.  That said, this time out William Johnson, Jasper Phillips, and Harold 'Scott seemed effortlessly comfortable in the studio, willing to take occasional risks with the material, including a couple of stabs at more dance oriented numbers ('' I Love, I Love').  Maybe I've just been listening to too much Al Green, but on a couple of tracks Phillips sure seemed to be trying to channel Green - check out his performance on ''Loving You Is So Easy'.  It wasn't the perfect Temprees album, the 'Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight' and 'A Love Song' medley was simply dull (and way too long), but song for song this one was pretty impressive.

 

- For a group best known for their slow-grind ballads, personally I've always been partial to their upbeat numbers. and Mr. Cool That Ain't Coo'' was one of their best performances.  About as close to a funk workout as these guys ever got, the chorus was just to-die-for.  Easy to see why it got tapped as the lead-off single.   rating: **** stars

- A far more typical performance, 'Your Love (Is All I Need)' was a breezy and easy going ballad that had plenty of commercial potential.  Once again Johnson and Scott provided some simply impeccable backing vocals.   rating: **** stars

- Another wonderful ballad, 'Loving You Is So Easy' found lead singer Jasper Phillips adding a touch of Al Green sexiness to the mix.  One of my favorite performances.  Great drums on this one.   rating: **** stars

- The second single off the album, 'I Love, I Love' had an even stronger Al Green feel to it, though the effect was somewhat diluted by the mundane disco-flavored backing.   rating: ** stars

- Another up-tempo effort, 'The Whole Bit of Love' was also side one's biggest disappointment.  The song itself wasn't particularly impressive, sounding like it had been thrown together in an instant with one of those boilerplate mid-1970s arrangements.  Add to that a lackluster performance and you had something completely forgettable.   rating: ** stars

- Opening up side two, their cover of Redbone's 'Come and Get Your Love' was fun.  Musically, other than adding some of their patented harmonies,  it didn't stray too far from the original arrangement.  Still, it was doubtful you'd forget the original version of the song.   rating: *** stars

- At least to my ears 'You Make Me Feel So Good Baby' has always reminded me of something out of the Philadelphia International camp.  It was certainly a nice enough ballad, but the arrangement and overall feel was different from their standard performance.   Like it a lot ...   rating: *** stars

- Their heavily orchestrated medley of  'Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight' and  'A Love Song' saw the trio veering into supper club soul territory.  Very Barry White MOR-ish and forgettable.  rating: ** stars

- Underscoring some of my earlier comments, the rapid fire 'I'll Live Her Life' was another standout performance.  Fantastic melody and the up tempo arrangement seemed to inspire Phillips and company.   rating: **** stars  

 

The album was tapped for a series of three singles:

 

 

- 'Mr. Cool That Ain't Cool' b/w 'Lovin' You Is So Easy' (We Produce catalog number XPRA-1814)

- 'I Love, I Love' b/w 'Your Love (Is All I Need)' (We Produce catalog number XPRA-1815)

- 'Come and Get Your Love' b/w 'I'll Live Her Life' (We Produce catalog number XPRA-1816)

 

You can still find cheap copies so this one's well worth checking out.

 

"Three" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Mr. Cool That Ain't Cool   (Bettye Crutcher - Mack Rice) - 2:53

2.) Your Love (Is All I Need)   (E. Hines - R. Randolph) - 3:35

3.) Loving You Is So Easy   (L. Moore) - 3:12

4.) I Love, I Love   (Jasper Phillips - H. Scott  M. Lee) - 4:25

5.) The Whole Bit of Love   (H. Scott - M. Lee) - 3:30

 

(side 2)
1.) Come and Get Your Love   (Lolly Vegas) - 3:14

2.) You Make Me Feel So Good Baby   (H. Scott - D. Davis) - 3:15

3,) Medley: Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight / A Love Song   (James Taylor / Hal David - Burt Bacharach) - 7:30

4.) I'll Live Her Life   (H. Scott - T. Nixon) - 2:55

 

 

 

 

 

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