My attempt to blog all of the entries from the book 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die
Brief Background: Cloud Nine was recorded throughout the end of 1968 and released in 1969. This is the first Temptations album to be released after the firing of lead David Ruffin. The album won the 1969 Grammy for best R&B album.
What I think: This is a really interesting album that delves into a sound I’ve never been very fond of. That sound is what I would (incorrectly) call ’70s funk, but is labeled as Psychedelic Soul everywhere else. The sound evokes such thoughts of time, place and clothing that seem really unfamiliar to me. I’m glad to listen to this album for this project though. It really gives me a chance to hear this music with an open mind and enjoy what is here. I’m excited for what is to come in the soul and funk genre of the time that I’ve never given much of a listen to.
The album contains two psychedelic soul songs in “Cloud Nine” and “Runaway Child, Running Wild” which differ from typical Motown and Temptations song with their socially conscious lyrics. The songs are also quite long and focus as much (if not more) on instrumentation than they do on lyrics. “Cloud Nine” would seem to point out the ease of escapism in drug abuse when faced with poverty. “Runaway child…” is a cautionary tale to youth who might think that the grass is greener on the other side of the tracks.
The only other song on the first side of the album is “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” which is a really interesting version done in a way I’ve never heard.
Side two of the album consist of the more traditional Motown and Temptations sound with a focus on strings and vocals. These songs are all great as well, even if they do pale to the music on side one.
Do I agree or disagree with the writers as to this being an album you must listen to? I do agree that this should be here, it was such a big risk for both the group and Motown records. It also marks a new beginning for soul groups that would last another decade.
Rating (Out of 5): 4.5
Amazon Review (Out of 5): 4.5
Is this my first time hearing this album? Yes (126/167)
Percentage of Albums that are new to me: 75%