The Undisputed Truth

Band members                              Related acts

  line up 1 (1970-73)

- Billie Rae Calvin -- vocals

- Brenda Joyce Evans -- vocals

- Joe Harris -- vocals 


  line up 2 (1973-75)

NEW - Tyrone Barkeley -- vocals 

NEW - Tyrone Douglas -- vocals

- Joe Harris -- vocals

NEW - Virginia McDonald -- vocals (replaced Brenda Joyce Evans)

NEW - Calvin Stephenson -- vocals


  supporting musicians (1973)

- Jack Ashford -- percussion

- Richard Allen --drums, percussion

- Bob Babbitt -bass

- Jack Brokensha -- percussion

- Eddie Brown -- percussion

- Bill y Cooper -- guitar

- Johnny Griffith -- keyboards

- Uriel Jones -- drums, percussion

- Joe Messina -- guitar

- Aaron Smith -- drums, percussion

- Andrew Smith -- drums, percussion

- Earl Van Dyke -- keyboards

- Melvin Wah Wah Watson -- guitar

- PaulWarren -- guitar

- Robert Ward -- guitar

- Robert White -- guitar

- Eddie Willis - guitar


  line 3 (1975-76)

- Tyrone Berkeley -- vocals

- Joe Harris -- vocals

- Virginia McDonald -- vocals 

- Calvin Stephenson -- vocals


  line up 4 (1976-78)

NEW - Taka Boom -- vocals (replaced Virginia McDonald)

- Tyrone Berkeley -- vocals 

- Joe Harris -- vocals 

- Calvin Stevens (aka Calvin Stephenson) -- vocals


  line up 5 (1978-79)

- Taka Boom -- vocals

- Tyrone Berkeley -- vocals 

- Joe Harris -- vocals 

NEW - Hershel Kennedy -- vocals 

- Calvin Stevens (aka Calvin Stephenson) -- vocals





- The Barons (Tyrone Douglas)

- Taka Boom (solo efforts)

- The Delicates (Billie Rae Calvin and Brenda Joyce)

- The 8th Day (Tyrone Douglas and Virginia McDonald)

- Little Joe and the Moroccos (Joe Harris)

- The Magictones (Tyrone Barkeley, Tyrone Douglas, 

  Virginia McDonald,  and Calvin Stevens)

- The Monticellos (Joe Harris)

- The Peppermint  (Tyrone Douglas)

- The Preps (Joe Harris)



Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  The Undisputed Truth

Company: Gordy

Catalog: G955-L

Year: 1971

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened and torn); minor hiss on a couple of tracks, but no skips

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 107

Price: $20.00


Even though Norman Whitfield is widely credited with creating The Undisputed Truth, Bobby Taylor actually had a key role in the process, bringing former Delicates members Billie Rae Calvin and Brenda Joyce Evans to Motown.  The Delicates subsequently fell apart leaving Calvin and Evans to kick around doing backing vocals for various Motown acts.  To his credit, Whitfield was responsible for teaming the pair with former The Preps lead singer Joe Harris.  He got the trio signed to Gordy Records; produced and wrote much of their 1971 cleverly-titled debut "The Undisputed Truth".  


So what can you say about this album ?  Well, that Norman Whitefield ...  what a marketer !   As demonstrated by this collection, in the early 1970s Whitfield managed to take Sly Stone-styled funk and blend it with hardcore psychedelia and nowhere did he do it with more creative excess than with The Undisputed Truth .  Besides, with their gigantic white afros, leather, metallic face paint ...  you had to love it.  From a creative standpoint, no matter how you looked at it, these folk were very much a tool for Whitfield.  Whitfield was responsible for co-writing most of the eleven tracks; most of them retreads previously recorded with other Motown acts.  There were no originals on the set.  Musically the set was divided into three genres.  Showcasing Harris' wonderful voice, tracks like '', '' and '' featured a conventional Motown soul sound.  To my ears, these tracks included some of the album's standout performances.  In keeping with a long standing Motown tradition, selections like 'California Soul', 'Aquarius' and 'We've Got a Way Out Love' featured a MOR-ish pop sound that was simply dull and forgettable.  And then you got to Whitfield's soul-psychedelia hybrid ...  it's the sound The Undisputed Truth is best remembered for and while Whitfield's experimental moves had some successes (the single 'Smiling Faces Sometimes'), elsewhere the results were far less impressive - check out the seemingly never ending 'Ball of Confusion' , or the closing Dylan cover 'Like a Rolling Stone'.   I love 'Smiling Faces Sometimes', but frankly it's the best thing on the album, so I'd suggest approaching this one with caution. 


"The Undisputed Truth" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) You Got the Love I Need   (Barrett Strong - Norman Whitfield) - 2:57

With Joe Harris and Billie Rae Calvin and Brenda Joyce Evans trading off lead vocals, 'You Got the Love I Need' was one of the album's most conventional soul number and apparently the only original track Whitfield brought to the sessions.   The ladies were quite good, but simply couldn't compete with Harris' gritty voice.   rating: *** stars

2.) Save My Love for a Rainy Day   (Norman Whitfield - Roger Penzabene) - 4:00

Tapped as the second single, 'Save My Love for a Rainy Day' was really a vehicle for Harris' nifty voice.  Built on a catchy title track chorus, this one had a Southern-soul edge that recalled something Clarence Carter might have recorded.  Love it ...   it was tapped as the leadoff single:

- 1971's 'Save My Love for a Rainy Day' b/w 'Since I've Lost You' (Gordy catalog number G 7106F)   rating: **** stars

3.) California Soul   (Nickolas Ashford - Valerie Simpson) - 3:55

In contrast to the first two songs, 'California Soul' found the group dipping their toes into bland adult contemporary pop. Harris handled lead vocals on this heavily orchestrated number and sounded very uncomfortable in these surroundings.   Imagine one of those early 1970s 5th Dimension albums and you'll know what to expect on this one.   rating: ** stars

4.) Aquarius   (Gail McDermont - Gerome Ragni - James Rado)  - 2:39

Speaking of the 5th Dimension ...  next up was a thoroughly bland and forgettable MOR cover of 'Aquarius'.  Calvin and Evans were given the unenviable job of singing this one.  Well, the fuzz guitar was mildly interesting.   rating: * star

5.) Ball of Confusion (What the World Is Today)  (Barrett Strong - Norman Whitfield - 10:30

So The Temptations recorded the classic version of 'Ball of Confusion (What the World Is Today)', but apparently short on material, Whitfield had no problem trotting it out for this album.   Musically the arrangement was a little different from the Temps' psych-soul version, but it was close enough that fans were probably going to be okay with the extended, ten minute track (including drum breaks, sound effects and an extended fuzz guitar segment).  Non-fans were liable to lift the needle about half way through the track.  I personally find myself in the later category.    rating: *** stars


(side 2)
1.) Smiling Faces Sometimes  (Barrett Strong - Norman Whitfield - 3:05

'Smiling Faces Sometimes' was another track The Temptations had previously recorded (it was on their 1971 set "Sky's the Limit" LP).  Kicked along by Harris' gritty, ominous delivery, this was the one track where The Undisputed Truth out-did The Temptations.  It was their biggest hit and easily the best performance  on the album ...  Shame this one wasn't represented by an extended LP version rather than 'Ball of Confusion'.  For anyone interested, YouTube has a 1975  television performance of the song (Harris singing lead with a later version of the group, including Virginia McDonald):     And yes, it was their signature tune:  

- 1971's 'Smiling Faces Sometimes' b/w 'You Got the Love I Need' (Gordy catalog number G 7108F  )rating: ***** stars

2.) We've Got a Way Out Love   (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozer - Eddie Holland) - 2:55

'We've Got a Way Out Love' has always been a mystery to me given the lead vocal didn't sound like Harris.   Originally recorded by The Originals, the song itself was a forgettable pop-oriented number that was simply too fragmented to gain any traction.   rating: ** stars

3.) Since I've Lost You   (Barrett Strong - Norman Whitfield- 3:20

'Since I've Lost You' found Harris and company returning to old school soul ballad territory. Opening up with a cheesy spoken word intro, the song was pretty enough sounding like an early Impressions tune, but it took awhile to generate some energy and the string arrangement was simply distracting.  rating: ** stars

4.) Ain't No Sun Since You've Been Gone   (Cornelius Grant - Norman Whitfield - Simon May) - 2:42

'Ain't No Sun Since You've Been Gone' started out with a distinctive lysergic edge, but unfortunately quickly went off in a cocktail-soul direction.   rating: ** stars

5.) I Heard It Through the Grapevine  (Barrett Strong - Norman Whitfield - 2:51

 I've always found their bouncy cover of the classic 'I Heard It Through the Grapevine' disconcerting ...  All of Marvin Gaye's ominous edge was lost on this version and the chirpy backing vocals were just way out of place.   rating: ** stars

6.) Like a Rolling Stone   (Bob Dylan) - 6:35

And just when you thought it couldn't get much stranger, the album closed with a painful cover of Dylan's 'Like a Rolling Stone'.  Remember Richard Harris taking on 'socially relevant' material like 'Macarthur Park'?   Well, this had the same stilted, over-the-top feel, though you had to give this Harris credit for giving the song his all.  Still, he simply didn't sound very comfortable in this genre.   rating: ** stars



Yeah, the hit was on this one, but "Face To Face with the Truth" or one of the posthumous hits packages might be the place to start.


Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Face To Face with the Truth

Company: Gordy

Catalog: G6-959L

Year: 1972

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1 

Catalog ID: 6106

Price: $20.00


Sure The Undisputed Truth were a performing group with real talent in the form of vocalists Billie Rae Calvin, Brenda Joyce Evans, and Joe Harris, but behind the scenes the true brains behind this outfit was producer/writer Norman Whitefield.  That said, 1972's "Face To Face with the Truth" captured Whitfield at the peak of his psychedelic soul phase.  Backed by the cream of Motown's studio players (Richard Allen, Dennis Coffey, James Jameson, Earl Van Dyke, etc.), these seven tracks served as a playground for Whitfield's increasingly wild studio experiments. Exemplified by tracks like 'You Make Your Own Heaven and Hell Right Here On Earth', 'Ungena Za Ulimwendu (Unite the World) Friendship Train' and 'What's Going On' the album was full of Whitfield social commentary, which was frequently admirable, if much of it hasn't aged all that well.  The results weren't always successful (side two saw a major decline in quality, including a seemingly endless cover of Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On'), but the results were never less than of passing interesting.  



              inner sleeve photo



"Face To Face with the Truth" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) You Make Your Own Heaven and Hell Right Here On Earth   (Norman Whitfield - Barrett Strong) - 6:50

Yeah, The Temptations originally recorded 'You Make Your Own Heaven and Hell Right Here On Earth' for Whitefield.  The good news is that Undisputed Truth version was every bit as good.  Slowed down and stretched out the track served to showcase Harris' gritty soul voice, Calvin and Evans nice harmony vocals, and guitarist Coffey's instantly recognizable fuzz guitar.  Easy to see why Gordy tapped it as the lead single.  

- 1971's 'You Make Your Own Heaven and Hell Right Here On Earth' b/w 'Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)' (Gordy catalog number G 7112F) # 72 pop; # 24 R&B    rating: **** stars

2.) What It Is?   (Norman Whitfield - Barrett Strong) - 4:57

'What It Is?' found Whitfield turning up the funk factor and reducing the lyric content.  Another change, this time out the focus was on Calvin and Evans as lead singers.  It wasn't nearly as impressive as some of the other numbers, but that didn't stop Gordy from tapping it as a follow-up single.   

- 1972's 'What It Is?' b/w 'California Soul' (Gordy catalog number G 7114F ) #71 pop; # 25 R&Brating: *** stars

3.) Ungena Za Ulimwendu (Unite the World) Friendship Train   (Norman Whitfield - Barrett Strong) - 8:50

Also recorded by The Temptations, Ungena Za Ulimwendu (Unite the World) Friendship Train' was interesting for a number of reasons including Jameson's fantastic bass line and some of the heaviest vocal effects you've ever heard - Harris and company literally sounded like they were singing from the bottom of a swimming pool.    rating: *** stars  


(side 2)
1.) Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)   (Norman Whitfield - Barrett Strong) - 2:56

The group's hyper-speed version of 'Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)' has to be heard.  They literally sound like they've been saturated in some sort of upper.   I also smile every time I head Earl Van Dyke's roller rink opening keyboards ...    rating: *** stars

2.) Take Me In Your Arms and Love Me   (Barrett Strong - R. Penzabene - C. Grant) - 3:52

The first time I heard their reworked version of 'Take Me In Your Arms and Love Me' I didn't even recognize this Motown chestnut ...  With one of the ladies handling lead vocals (and another great bass line), this arrangement recast the song as a pseudo-jazzy romp.  Amazingly weird and also quite fascinating.    rating: **** stars

3.) Don't Let Him Take Your Love From Me   (Norman Whitfield - Barrett Strong) - 5:25   

If there was a surprise on the album, it came in the form of 'Don't Let Him Take Your Love From Me'.  Avoiding the usual psychedelic soul moves, this one found Harris and company diving head long into an old school soul ballad.  It was a perfect vehicle for Harris' gritty voice and stands as a personal favorite.   rating: **** stars

4.) What's Going On    (A. Cleveland - Marvin Gaye - R. Benson) - 9:21The group's nine minute cover of Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On' was clearly filler.  Not that they did a bad job (the extended guitar solo section (Joe Messina?), was actually quite beguiling), but why would you waste your time trying to improve on a classic like that ?    rating: ** stars



For anyone interested, there's a nice Undisputed Truth fan site at:



Genre: soul

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Law of the Land

Company: Gordy

Catalog: G6-963S1

Year: 1973

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 3514

Price: $15.00


A quick look at the track listing was all it took to decide 1973' "Law of the Land" was going to be one of those quickie, uninspired Motown collections.  Yeah, Norman Whitfield was the producer, but between the recycled Whitfield-penned songs (the title track, 'Papa was a Rollin' Stone' and 'Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)') and the poorly chosen top-40 covers (Roberta Flack's 'Killing Me Softly with His Song', Traffic's 'Feelin' Alright', The Beatles' 'With a Little Help from My Friends', and Dionne Warwick's 'Walk On By'), there just didn't seem to be much hope for this album.  The good news was 

Billie Rae Calvin, Brenda Joyce Evans and Joe Harris remained exception singers.  Harris in particular had a great, rugged, soul-inflected delivery that managed to make almost anything sound good.  The bad news was that no matter how good their performances were, it was simply impossible for them to turn in covers that were better than some of these Motown and pop classics.  Add in poor choices in cover material (Traffic's 'Feelin' Alright'), and there simply wasn't a lot to keep this one going.  The title track was probably the best of the lot, with the surprisingly old-school sounding ballad 'Girl You're Alright' coming in second.


I've always found it somewhat amusing the liner notes thanked to musicians, but didn't even list the singers.  Always wondered if that was due to the fact Billie Rae Calvin and Brenda Joyce Evans quit shortly after the album was released, leaving Joe Harris has the sole carry-over member.


"Law of the Land" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Law of the Land   (Norman Whitefield) - 4:26   rating: **** stars

The Temptations actually recorded the song ahead of The Undisputed Truth, though  The Undisputed Truth version was release first.  Sadly, to this day, more people seem to recognize The Temptations version.  Musically 'Law of the Land' was a classic slice of Whitfield's unique psychedelic-soul sound and the two versions weren't all that different, though I'd give the nod to this arrangement, if only for the fact Brenda Joyce Evans' vocals added a nice touch tot he mix.   The tune was tapped as an international single:

- 1973's 'Law of the Land' b/w 'Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)' (Gordy catalog number G 7130F) # 40 R&B

2.) Papa was a Rollin' Stone  (Norman Whitefield - Barrett Strong) - 3:28  rating: *** stars

Another track where both The Undisputed Truth and The Temptations recorded it and released it as a single.  Once again, The Undisputed Truth released it first, enjoying a modest pop and soul hit. Whitfield then recorded it with The Temptations who topped the charts with their version.   Musically the two versions weren't all that different, the biggest difference being The Temptations album track stretched on over ten minutes.   Maybe due to the fact I grew up on it, I'd give the nod to The Tempts on this one.  Another choice as a single:


1972's 'Papa was a Rollin' Stone' b/w 'Friendship Train' (Gordy catalog number G-7117F)  # 63 pop; # 24 R&B




3.) Girl You're Alright   (Pam Sawyer - Clay McMurray) - 2:58   rating: **** stars

The breezy ballad 'Girl You're Alright' was a  nice showcase for  Joe Harris' gruff voice.  Another single for the group:

- 1972's 'Girl You're Okay' b/w 'With a Little Help from My Friends' (Gordy catalog number G-7122F)  # 43 R&B

4.) Killing Me Softly with His Song   (Joel Dorn) - 4;52   rating:** stars 

I was never a big fan of the Roberta Flack hit, so this cover (showcasing Evans), didn't do a great deal for me.  Whitfield's arrangement stayed true to Flack;s arrangement.  Always wondered why the song writing credit was listed as Joel Dorn when Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel actually wrote it.

5.) Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)  (Norman Whitefield - Barrett Strong) - 3:44  rating: *** stars 

At this point you had to start wondering if you'd bought a Temptations album by mistake ...  Another song that The Temptations simply own, so no matter how good the cover was (and Evans did a nice job on lead vocals), but it remained a cover.

6.) This Child Needs Its Father   (Nick Zessus - Dino Fekaris) - 3:27   rating:** stars 

I knew this one from the Gladys Knight and the Pips version.  Evans performance  was simply a bit too strident for my tastes.


(side 2)
1.) Mama I Got a Brand New Thing (Don't Say No)
  (Norman Whitefield) - 3:33  rating: *** stars 

'Mama I Got a Brand New Thing (Don't Say No)' was another classic slice of Whitefield psych-soul.  And that was the problem with this one.  Whitefield's sound was instantly recognizable, but tended to start to sounding the same.  The lyric was a little different, but you couldn't help but start playing spot the influences on this one.  The Jackson Five also recorded this one.  Another single:

  - 1973's 'Mama I Got a Brand New Thing (Don't Say No)' b/w 'Gonaa Keep On Tryin' Til I Win Your Love' (Gordy catalog number G7124F) # 46 R&B

2.) Feelin' Alright   (Dave Mason) - 4:53   rating:** stars 

I can certainly understand Motown wanting to take a popular rock song and give it a soul treatment, but this simply wasn't the right song, or the right arrangement.  Takin' it to the chruch simply didn't work with this arrangement simply coming off as shrill and desperate.  

3.) Love and Happiness   (Melvin Hidges - Al Green) - 3:15   rating:** stars 

I've always loved the Al Green original, is approached this one with a bit of trepidation.  Kudos to Billie Rae Calvin  for trotting out his best Green impression, but ultimately you had to wonder why you'd bother listening to this version when you could hear the original (without the needless shrieking in the background)..

4.) With a Little Help from My Friends   (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 4:25   rating:** stars 

With Harris handling lead vocals, their cover seemed more inspired by Joe Cocker's version than The Beatles original.  Needless.  

5.) If I Die   (Peter Rivera) - 3:15   rating: **** stars

Penned by Rare Earth's Peter Rivera (it appeared on their 1971 album "One World"), 'If I Die' adopted Whitefield's patented soul-psych sound, but added some interesting anti-war lyrics to mix.  Certainly not the album's most engaging track, but it was probably the album's most interesting song.

6.) Walk On By   (Hal David - Burt Bacharach) - 3:57   rating: *** stars 

if I had to pick the album's biggest surprise, then it would be their Bacharach-Davis cover.  My expectations for this one were so low, that anything short of a train wreck qualified as a success.  With Evans on lead vocals, their cover didn't stray too far from the original, but exhibited a sweet, surprisingly commercial edge.  It would have been even better without the spoken word sections and the send-of-song sobs.




Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Higher Than High

Company: Gordy

Catalog: G6-972S1

Year: 1975

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG+

Comments: minor ring, edge and corner wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2925

Price: $9.00


Had this outfit been signed to any label other than Motown's Gordy subsidiary, they would have been megastars.  Unfortunately, in spite of occasional brushes with popular success, they were overshadowed by the company's bigger and better known acts.


For four years and three studio albums, The Undisputed Truth featured the talents of Billy Rae Calvin, Brenda Joyce-nee-Evans, and Joe Harris.  That all changed with the release of 1975s "Higher Than High".  Firing Calvin and Joyce-Evans, band mentor/producer Norman Whitfield kept Joe Harris, replacing the other two with Tyrone Berkeley, Tyrone Douglas, Virginia McDonald, and Calvin Stevens.   Douglas and McDonald had both been in The Eighth Day.  Douglas and Stephens had also been members of the Magictones, a rather faceless Detroit cover band.  The new line-ups experience was more than enough for Whitfield's goal of creating a self-contained band. 



With Whitfield producing and writing most of the material, the new line up debuted with 1975's "Higher Than High". Musically it was pretty clear where Whitfield's current inspiration was coming from.  Showcasing tracks such as 'I'm In the Red Zone', 'Boogie Bump Boogie' (always loved the Atari game sound effects) and the hysterical 'Poontang' (with the classic lyric "I use to hate it till I ate it"), Whitfield should have just co-credited Sly and the Family Stone and George Clinton and the Parliament/Funkadelic family as co-writers.  While there wasn't anything wrong with the group's new direction, it did provide the set with a somewhat schizophrenic sound - particularly when you heard one of Harris' isolated old school performances like 'Life Ain't So Easy'.  Elsewhere, released as a single 'Help Yourself' b/w 'What's Going On' (Gordy catalog number G 7134F) managed to climb into the top-100 pop charts.  The group also got heavily into stage props, including kiss-styled makeup and some of the wildest white afro wigs you've ever seen. As for sales, the set peaked at # 173.


And courtesy of YouTube here are a pair of Soul Train performances':


'Boogie Bump Boogie'


"Higher than High" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Higher Than High   (Norman Whitfield) - 3:17
2.) Poontange   (Norman Whitfield) - 3:37
3.) Life Ain't So Easy (Norman Whitfield) - 4:13
4.) Boogie Bump Boogie   (Norman Whitfield - John McGhee) - 5:09

(side 2)
1.) Help Yourself   (Norman Whitfield) - 3:52

2.) I'm In the Red Zone   (Norman Whitfield) - 4:45
2.) Overload   (Norman Whitfield - John McGhee - Joe Harris) - 3:09
3.) I Saw You When You Met Her   (Norman Whitfield) - 3:55
4.) Ma   (Norman Whitfield) - 6:29



Genre: soul

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Cosmic Truth

Company: Gordy

Catalog: G6-970S1

Year: 1975


Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD

Price: SOLD


1975's "Cosmic Truth" found Whitfield reinforcing his efforts to blend psych and soul influences into a commercial hybrid.  Responsible for virtually all of the material, the collection found the group all but abandoning their earlier soul-influenced moves.  In there place tracks like 'UFOs' (talk about a Bootsy Collins clone), 'Got To Get My Hands On Some Lovin' ' and 'Lil' Red Riding Hood' served to underscore Whitfield's continuing affection for George Clinton/Funkadelic/Parliament material.  This time around the influences were so clear that Whitfield was lucky he didn't get slapped with a plagiarism suit.   Though it sounded out of place compared to the rest of the set the leadoff dance track 'Earthquake Shake' was a refreshing brush with old school and with it's wall of sound drums was guaranteed to quickly destroy inferior stereo speakers.  The group also turned in a nice cover of Neil Young's 'Down By the River'.   Best of the lot - their psych-soul cover of Whitfield's '(I Know) I'm Losing You'.  Full of Whitfield's trademarked quirky production effects (including lots of fuzz guitar), the results were way over the top, but in a charming and goofy kind of way that made for one of the group's stronger sets.


Gordy tapped the album for three singles:


- 1974's 'Little Red Ridin' Hood' b/w 'Big John Is My Name' (Gordy catalog number G 7140F)

- 1975's 'UFO's' b/w 'Got To Get My Hands On Some Lovin'' (Gordy catalog number G 7143F)

- 1975's 'Spaced Out' b/w '' (Gordy catalog number G 7145F)


"Cosmic Truth" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Earthquake Shake   (Norman Whitfield - Joe Harris) - 

2.) Down By the River   (Neil Young) - 

3.) UFO's   (Norman Whitfield) - 

4.) Lil' Red Riding Hood   (Norman Whitfield) - 

5.) Squeeze Me, Tease Me   (Norman Whitfield) - 

(side 2)
1.) Spaced Out   (Norman Whitfield) - 

2.) Got To Get My Hands On Some Lovin'   (Norman Whitfield) - 

3.) 1990   (Norman Whitfield) - 

4.) (I Know) I'm Losing You   (Norman Whitfield - Eddie Holland - Cornelius Grant) - 






Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Method To the Madness

Company: Whitfield

Catalog: WH 2967

Year: 1976

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6134

Price: $10.00



By the time "Method To the Madness" was released, band mentor Norman Whitfield had seemingly decided to reinvent The Undisputed Truth, moving them away from psychedelic soul  towards a more contemporary disco and funk sound.  As on earlier albums Whitefield was again responsible for most of the album's nine tracks - he wrote or co-wrote everything on the LP.  he group's patented white afros remained in place, but the change in direction came with a revamped personnel lineup; Tyrone Berkeley, Joe Harris, and Calvin Stevens joined by Taka Boom (Chaka Kahn's younger sister) who replaced Virginia McDonald.  Moreover, this time around, judging by tracks like 'Cosmic Contact' and 'Hole In the Wall', Whitfield seemed to have been listening to quite a bit of Sly Stone and George Clinton and The Funkadelic/Parliament empire. 

"Method To the Madness" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Cosmic Contract   (Norman Whitfield) - 3:50

'Cosmic Contract' wasn't so much a song as it was a bunch of Clinton-styled synthesizer sound effects and spoken word segments.  Very 'Morhership Connection' inspired ...  rating: * star

2.) Method To the Madness   (Norman Whitfield) - 3:55

Thankfully the title track found the group moving into a Sly Stone-styled slice of funk.  While the song wasn't particularly original or impressive, like her sister, Boom's shrill voice was well suited to the genre.  Great slap bass solo and kudos to Whitfield for fading the song out before it got too repetitive.  rating: *** stars

3,) Sunshine   (Norman Whitfield) - 5:12

'Sunshine' was a pretty, heavily orchestrated old-school styled ballad that seemed very out of place on this set.  To my ears it sounded very much like something The Temptations would have covered.   This was the album's third single:

- 1976: Sunshine' b/w 'Sunshine' (Whitfield catalog number WHI 8362)   rating: *** stars   

4.) You + Me = Love   (Norman Whitfield) - 11:10

Showcasing Boom on lead vocals (she was more than an equal to her male partners), 'You + Me = Love' was an up tempo, disco-tinged number.  Perfect dance floor fodder with a pounding hook in the title hook which meant there wasn't a great deal of originality flowing through this one.  The extended eleven plus minute dance version went on and on giving the backing band lots of opportunities to showcase their instrumental chops.   This one was tapped as the leadoff single:

- 1976: 'You + Me = Love' b/w 'You + Me = Love (instrumental)' (Whitfield catalog number WHI 8231)  ('A" side: pop # 48, R&B # 37)   rating: *** stars   


(side 2)
1.) Hole In the Wall   (Norman Whitfield - Rochelle Runnella) - 3:20

With all four members sharing lead vocals, 'Hole In the Wall' was an okay number that served to mix soul and funk influences.  The George Clinton influences were very apparent on this one, but the real standout was actually the slap bass pattern.  rating: *** stars

2.) Loose   (Norman Whitfield - Rochelle Runnella) - 3:21

With Boom again handling lead vocals, 'Loose' actually sounded a bit like an early Rufus track.  The woman certainly had a sultry delivery that bore at least a passing resemblance to her sister's powerful voice.   rating: *** stars

3.) Life Ain't So Easy   (Norman Whitfield) - 3:57

Joe Harris' rough and gnarly voice was one of Motown's forgotten gifts and was perfectly suited for old-school soul numbers like 'Life Ain't So Easy'.  With it's social activism lyric, this one was a throwback to Whitfield's early-1970s catalog.  Easily one of the best songs on the album.    rating: **** stars

4.) Take a Vacation from Life (and Visit Your Dreams)   (Norman Whitfield - John McGhee) - 4:30

Unlike anything else on the album, 'Take a Vacation from Life (and Visit Your Dreams)' had a cool, almost '60s Brazilian jazzy vibe to it ...  very pretty melody with some great acoustic guitar and Boom's restrained vocals made this the album's standout track.    rating: ***** stars

5.) Let's Go Down To the Disco   (Norman Whitfield) - 9:10 

Yeah, it sure sounded like Whitfield borrowed the bass line and parts of the arrangement from Rose Royce's 'Carwash' for 'Down To the Disco' (but then he wrote and produced that song as well).  (he also seeming borrowed a bit from The Bee Gees.)  As much as disco drives me crazy, I have to admit this one's not half bad.  Yeah, it suffers from all the shortcomings of the genre, but Whitfield managed to package it together in a way that made it almost impossible for you to just sit there.   Great track.   It was released as a 7" and 12" single:

  7" format

- 1976: 'Let's Go Down To the Disco' b/w 'Loose' (Whitfield catalog number WHI 8295)  (R&B # 68)

  12" single

- 1976: 'Let's Go Down To the Disco' b/w 'You + Me = Love' (Whitfield catalog number PRO 651)  ( R&B # 68)    rating: **** stars



A bit short on originality, but all told a surprisingly enjoyable late-inning release from this outfit.