Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Gentleman Ruffin Posted by Hello

David Ruffin- David

David Ruffin’s solo career and its lack of constant success has been one of music’s most enduring and complicated stories. After his 1968 departure as the raspy and charismatic lead of the Temptations, he seemed to be prevented from solo superstardom, from Motown and his mercurial nature didn’t exactly make him endearing. Well, that’s history and the existence of “David” proves there was indeed work done besides the two singles released in 1971. For its 2004 release Hip-O Select has finally brought all of the original 12 songs from David to light as well as 7 outtakes and mono mixes of released singles of the time. To end to the classic factor, only 3,000 CD’s were pressed. While David does show Ruffin more confident and more mature, it’s not perfect.

Songs like “I’ve Got a Need for You” “For the Shelter of Your Love” and “Dinah” aren’t too removed from the overwrought nature of his earlier solo work. The same can’t be said for all of the tracks however. Ruffin’s gruff and fun cover of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” and a prime Smokey Robinson production, “You Can Come Right Back To Me” are hands-down two of best solo efforts. Given Ruffin’s skill at often depressing songs, “Out in the Country” and “I Can’t Be Hurt Anymore” both keep to this side of corny due to strong productions and of course Ruffin’s delivery. There is little hope for duds and released singles like the droning “Dinah” and the overwrought “Each Day Is a Lifetime.”

If that was the extent of "David" many would think that’s it’s a standard issue good not great David Ruffin album. Thankfully the outtakes not even intended for release up the ante. Brilliant and hard rocking productions on tracks like “It’s Going to Take A Lot of Doin’” and “I Want to Hear Her Say It Again” bring out a certain grit and electricity in Ruffin’s vocals. Other outtakes, “Get Away Heartbreak (Keep On Movin’) and “You Make Me Do Things I Don’t Want To Do” also have the Motown sound move even more confidently into the ‘70s with the looser and “groovier” productions. Even the ballads have more heft as the poignant “Mountain of Memories” and Ruffin’s oh-so “heavy” take on “Heaven Help Us All” find him fully engaged. For fans of Ruffin, the work from David creates a kind of closure on a career and catalogue that’s been made even stronger with this release.

Breakdown and or Comments: Ahh, laying it on a little thick there huh? It's justified though. After hearing years and years of vault jobs, it's odd that something on this level wasn't released. It's not like the Motown imprint had a totally busy schedule. Gordy was just releasing the Temptations "Sky's The Limit." Tamla had readied Eddie Kendricks's first solo album, "All By Myself." Tamla also finally put out a little album, "What's Going On." Gee, I wondered what happened with that one. Motown? Well Ruffin's "David" release was bumped back 32 years and in its place a few going nowhere "Motown Chartbusters" sets. Goody.

What I found most compelling was the fact that the so-called outtakes on "David" wouldn't have been released back then anyway. Now that's deep. I do love the cover art however, it's a perfect representation of 1971 and no doubt would have been treasured in people's homes back then. It is now--and believe it or not, the dating isn't too pronounced, it's simply a great album...
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