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David Ruffin: The Solo Albums, Vol. 1

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Album Review

After David Ruffin's discordant split from the Temptations in late 1968, he remained as part of the Motown family, launching a career that allowed the artist a greater palette from which to create. This double-disc anthology gathers Ruffin's first four solo long players — My Whole World Ended (1969), Feelin' Good (1969), David Ruffin (1973) and Me 'N Rock 'N Roll Are Here to Stay (1974) . His debut, My Whole World Ended, was greeted with open ears, landing at the top spot on the R&B LP chart and turning out one of Ruffin's most memorable sides, the foreboding title track "My Whole World Ended (When You Left Me)," which crossed over into the Pop Singles survey at a respectable number nine. Presumably wanting to continue to strike while the iron was hot, Feelin' Good (1969) reflects the residual positive vibe. The album once again boasts a blend of sock-it-me soul and poignant balladry. Standouts include Ruffin's funky take on Dave Mason's "Feelin' Alright," the Gladys Knight co-penned "I Pray Everyday You Won't Regret Leaving Me," and the cozy "I Let Love Slip Away" — which was to have initially been recorded by Marvin Gaye.

Although the artist cut more than enough excellent material, personal problems and a fractious (at best) relationship with Motown brass resulted in a nearly four-year hiatus between releases. When the eponymous David Ruffin (1973) surfaced, so to did an insight into his inner demons. The update of Luther Ingram's hit "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right" finds him openly pleading as " ... a man in desperation," before begging "...can't you help the situation." On one overwhelmingly positive note, keen-eared listeners can hear Ruffin joined by his old Temptations' co-lead Eddie Kendricks on the Philly soul of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff's "I Miss You, Part One." The last platter covered in this anthology is the optimistic Me 'N Rock 'N Roll Are Here to Stay (1974). The hopefulness actually translates into the grooves to reveal what could be the strongest (if not most varied) of the four projects. The nearly seven-minute spacy "I Saw You When You Met Her" and the intimate redux of the Undisputed Truth's "Smiling Faces Sometimes" are both worthy of frequent revisitation. Accompanying the two CDs is a 28-page booklet containing complete full-color reproductions of the vintage LP jackets, formerly unpublished photos, as well as text by soul music authority David Ritz. Interested parties should note that the CD edition of The Motown Solo Albums, Vol. 1 is limited to 5,000 non-numbered copies.


Born: 18 January 1941 in Meridian, MS

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

One of the greatest lead singers the Motown stable ever had, David Ruffin became one of the artistic cornerstones of the Temptations after his lead vocal on "My Girl" (1965) paved the way for such majestic follow-ups as "Since I Lost My Baby" (1965), "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep" (1966), "All I Need" (1967), and "I Wish It Would Rain" (1968). Unfortunately, ever-mounting internal pressures within the group, coupled with Ruffin's swelling ego, led to his dismissal from the group in late 1968. His solo...
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