Song of the Week – Ball of Confusion, The Temptations


I’m very conscious of saturating the SotW with the same artists. Even mainstays such as The Beatles, Stones, Dylan or Led Zeppelin have only been featured three or four times each over the 10 years I’ve been working on this project. So it feels a little funny to be writing about The Temptations for the second time in three weeks!

But right after I posted “I Wish It Would Rain” on February 10th, I learned that the Temps singer Dennis Edwards had died on February 1st at the age of 74 – just two days before his 75th birthday.

Although he was not one of the original members of the group, he was one of the lead singers on many of their late ‘60s/early’70s “psychedelic” period hits including “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” (Edwards has the line “It was the third of September…”), “Cloud Nine” (lead), and “Psychedelic Shack.”

Edwards was long a part of the Motown family, taking the lead on The Contours’ 1962 hit “Do You Love Me.” It was later made popular with a new generation when it was featured in the movie Dirty Dancing (1987).

Edwards had the unenviable position of replacing the popular David Ruffin when he was kicked out The Temptations in 1968. Edwards often had to endure audiences calling out “Where’s David?” The task was made more difficult because Ruffin was known to occasionally show up at Temptations gigs and disrupt Edwards’ performances – trying to take back the spotlight he once commanded.

Despite this difficult task, Edwards was an important contributor during a very successful period for the group. Beside the songs mentioned above, he also sang lead or key parts in more hits like “Shakey Ground,” “I Can’t Get Next to You,” and today’s SotW, “Ball of Confusion.”

“Ball of Confusion” reached #3 on the Billboard pop chart in 1970. It’s another example of soul/funk music moving into more socially conscious lyrics – a trend begun by Marvin Gaye and Sly & the Family Stone.

All of the songs mentioned in today’s post are worthy of being the SotW. So get onto Spotify or YouTube and check them all out,

Enjoy… until next week.

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