February 1966: The Temptations Release "Get Ready"

Temptations
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Gilles Petard/Redferns

The age-old saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," but Berry Gordy believed no such thing.

He established his Motown empire on the principle that Hitsville U.S.A. was only as good as their next big hit. The Temptations were no exception to this golden standard. Following the Robinson-penned smash successes "The Way You Do the Things You Do," "My Girl," and a string of lesser hits, Robinson decided to take the Temptations a different direction. 

“Vocal-group R&B is first thought of in doo-wop groups, that Fifties strain,” describes author of Motown: The Sound of Young America Adam White. “I think what the Temptations did by way of updating is bring that sound into the Sixties — no mean feat given what else was going on musically at that time. They made vocal groups cool in a time where it would have been very easy for that not to be the case.”

Released February 7, 1966, "Get Ready" was the Temptations' thrilling comeback, with Eddie Kendricks' return to the spotlight with clear-as-day falsetto. Despite the unquestionable dance floor charisma of the single, the song took the No. 1 throne on Billboard's R&B Chart but only charted at No. 29 on the pop chart. 

Given the previous track record of the Robinson-Temptations chemistry, including co-written songs “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “My Girl,” “It’s Growing,” “Since I Lost My Baby,” “My Baby” and “Get Ready,” that all took Top Five on the R&B chart and Top 30 on the Hot 100, the R&B chart-topping, Top 40 hit was perhaps a disappointment to Motown's high expectations. 

As a result, Gordy gave songwriter and producer Norman Whitfield a chance to make magic with The Temptations instead, prompting the beginning of Robinson's end as Motown's go-to writer. Whitfield changed their sonic style - altering their signature sound with harder soul, funkier rock, and more psychedelic vibes. The Temptations' would return to the charts with Whitfield's "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" at No. 13 on the Hot 100, opening the famous five's next chapter in collaborating with Whitfield through the 70's.

BONUS BEATS:

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - "Get Ready" (1970)

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - "Get Ready" Live

The Supremes Cover "Get Ready" (1966)

 

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