The Temptations - Bare Back (1978, Atlantic)
The Temptations - Mystic Woman (Love Me Over) (1978, Atlantic)
The Temptations - Touch Me Again (1978, Atlantic)
For the record, while I'm definitely not endorsing any of the practices supposedly suggested or implied in this song, I do heartily endorse it's groove.
The title track from The Temptations' "Bare Back" (1978, Atlantic) album, their second and last during their brief, unsuccessful period on the Atlantic label in the late 70's, this was a single, but like all of their other Atlantic material, never went anywhere commercially. Supple basslines, spirited vocals (largely courtesy of lead vocalist Richard Street), and propulsive bass-heavy groove aside, perhaps it was better that it didn't, in retrospect. I suppose using the expression "riding bareback" as a metaphor for life and living may have been acceptable in 1978 pre-AIDS; to say that it's an expression which hasn't held up too well over the years would probably be an understatement. Then again, I suppose that depends entirely on one's perspective..
However, with the great production and the admittedly out-of-context naughtiness one can't help but read into it today, I personally can't get enough of it. With this track and practically the entire album produced and co-written by Motown veteran Brian Holland alongside brother Eddie Holland and their main writing partner at this time, Harold Beatty (essentially Lamont Dozier's replacement), this is just one of the many excellent, underrated productions that the Holland Brothers were involved with at the time. While there's no topping the legacy of Holland-Dozier-Holland as pop songwriters, Eddie Holland's bright, funk-bottomed, disco flavoured productions in the late 70's for acts like The Supremes (covered on here before), The Jackson 5, Eloise Laws and others like the short-lived group, New York Port Authority are top quality, in my opinion..
As far as the album goes, In spite of having pulled together a top-flight team of Philadelphia's finest (which included Norman Harris and future group member Ron Tyson) on their first Atlantic LP, "Hear To Tempt You" (1977, Atlantic), out of their two Atlantic albums, I'd consider this to be the best of them. While not as ambitious as their Norman Whitfield material, or their last big Motown record, the Jeffrey Bowen-produced "A Song For You" (1975, Gordy/Motown), the other disco-flavoured tracks on the record like "Mystic Woman (Love Me Over)" and "Touch Me Again," the sublime balladry in "Ever Ready Love" (also a single), and "I See My Child" (the only track not written by Holland, Beatty and Holland) make it solid and satisfying, nonetheless.
While I can't imagine any of the current Tempts revues get too many requests in their shows for the song in question, thankfully You Tube has video. One from a 1979 live performance on the Chicago TV show Soundstage, and another from the ever-reliable Soul Train. Also from the same Soul Train appearance, is a performance of one of the album's ballad tracks "Ever Ready Love," which, if I'm not mistaken, might have been their final single release for Atlantic.
The Temptations - Bare Back (1978)
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Temptations - Bare Back (Soundstage Chicago 1979)
Uploaded by whatiship73
The Temptations - Ever Ready Love (1978)
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