Album: Gettin’ Ready
. . .
Given my age and my demographic, it’s not surprising that I heard — or at least remember — a lot of Temptations songs in their incarnation from white rock artists. Of course the Stones did an OK version of “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and an all-time all-time version of “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me),” and Rod Stewart had the Faces in tow for “(I Know) I’m Losing You.”
Said song was also covered by Rare Earth, and wikipedia tells me it made it all the way to #7, but I don’t remember their version at all. But I totally remember their yeah, sure, OK version of “Get Ready,” which was inescapable on KYNO even after it dropped off the charts, and even wrote about their greatest single, “I Just Want To Celebrate.”
But of course, the versions of pretty much all of these songs I now gravitate towards is the original Temptations version, especially on “Get Ready,” a single-entendre fucksong which was the last thing that Smokey Robinson wrote for the Temptations, and which features ungodly killer drumming from Funk Brother Benny Benjamin over a powerful, funky bassline from Funk Brother James Jamerson.
Over all of this, Eddie Kendricks is using his falsetto to try to woo a girl, with the rest of the Temptations as his wingmen.
I never met a girl who makes me feel the way that you do
Whenever I’m asked who makes my dreams real, I say that you do
(You’re outta sight)
Look out, baby, ’cause here I come
One of the cool things about the verses of “Get Ready” is how bassman Melvin Williams echoes the nursery rhyme lines — “fee-fi-fo-fum” and “fiddely-dee, fiddely-dum,” — creating a cool vocal contrast w/ Kendricks. He also does it again on “cause here I come” just before the chorus.
And I’m bringing you a love that’s true
So get ready, so get ready
I’m gonna try to make you love me too
So get ready, so get ready ’cause here I come
(Get ready ’cause here I come)
I’m on my way
(Get ready ’cause here I come)
And what a chorus it is: Benjamin slams into a double-time, the other four Temps unleash the “ahhhhh” backing vocals, deploy harmonies on the initial “so get ready, so ready” and do a call-and response with Kendricks at the end of it. It’s just a dazzling vocal arrangement all done over funky danceable music, which featured a quick sax solo, and an instrumental bridge where Benjamin practically knocks the horn section right out of the studio.
And for whatever reason, “Get Ready” wasn’t a big hit in this incarnation. While it topped the R&B charts and even made #10 in the U.K. charts, it stiffed out at #29 for reasons, I guess. The fact that it stiffed, though, made it easier for Berry Gordy to follow through on his promise to Norman Whitfield to replace Smokey Robinson as their producer moving forward, especially as Whitfield’s first single with the Temptations was a much bigger hit. But we’ll talk about that tomorrow.
“Get Ready” performed live with Smokey Robinson
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