The mid-sixties were the Golden Age of vocal harmony in pop music. From 1964 through 1967, while the Beach Boys and Beatles set the vocal harmony pace among pop and rock bands, the cream of pure vocal groups -- the Supremes, Four Tops, Impressions, Miracles, and Temptations -- were also at their creative and popular peaks. Even in this crowd the Temps stood alone at the top when David Ruffin was their principal lead singer.

They had it all: five great voices with perfect blend; three momorable lead singers (Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks on "The Way You Do The Things You Do" and "Get Ready," and Paul Williams on "Don't Look Back"); the deep, resonant bass of Melvin Franklin; an unending string of outstanding songs ("My Girl," "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," and "I'm Losing You" may have been the best); the incredible instrumental backing of the Motown house band, the Funk Brothers; manly looks and great threads that appealed equally to men and women, and from the street to the board rooms; and dance moves to die for, in Nelson George's words, "synchronized without seeming rote."

We wore out their records listening and dancing to them, but the Temps were at their best on stage where the complete package could take your breath away. Unfortunately, their best performance videos from these years are not to be found on YouTube. Instead, they've been compiled on a must-have DVD, Get Ready, which also includes great bonus features. I've posted two YouTube videos on the Home Page for the next month (and in the Featured Artist Archive afterwards). Although of mediocre technical quality, these clips do convey the raw excitement of the Temps on stage. Be sure not to miss this performance of "I'm Losing You"! Click here to see a chronological list of their best songs in the Alley Timeline.

Which was your favorite Temps album? Did you ever see them live? Is there any other vocal group you'd stack up against them? Do you think any of their later songs (like "Cloud Nine," "I Can't Get Next to You," "Ball of Confusion," "Just My Imagination," or "Papa Was A Rolling Stone") hold up to the best of the earlier ones?