The Temptations – Run Away Child, Running Wild

• “Run Away Child, Running Wild” set to a picture of the housing album cover. Thanks to Will Common.

7.9 “Great Disco / Funk from the USA”

From their 9th LP “Cloud Nine” (Gordy GS-939) released in February 1969. An edited version was issued as a single the month before.

The Temptations were one of those of groups that I could never quite trust – often just as culpable of trite pop crimes as capable with hard-hitting chops – but this nine-minute stretch-out was a good ‘un; hands-down the stand-out centre-piece of “Could Nine”.

Producer Norman Whitfield took the Temptations into psychedelic territory after a suggestion from the group’s defacto leader, Otis Williams. Williams had been discussing Sly & the Family Stone’s music, and the changes it brought to the soul music industry, with his friend, producer Kenneth Gamble. Gamble agreed with Williams that Sly Stone’s funkier production style and multi-lead vocals was here to stay and that it was time to learn to adapt to it.

Featuring all five Temptations – Dennis Edwards, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, and Otis Williams – trading verses and harmony lines, “Run Away Child, Running Wild” paints a tale of a school kid who runs away from home after being punished for truanting. The boy wanders the dark streets alone, eventually realising he cannot survive on his own, but cannot find his way home, and ends up lost, frightened by strangers, unfamiliar landmarks, and his own thoughts.

Roaming through the city
Going nowhere fast
You’re on your own at last
Hey it’s getting late, where will you sleep
Gettin kind-a hungry
You forgot to bring something to eat
Oh lost with no money, you start to cry
But remember you left home
Wanting to be grown
So dry your weepin eyes
Siren screamin down, neon light is flickin
You want your mama
Ah there’s nothing for you
You’re frightened and confused I want my mama
But she’s much too far away
She can’t hear a word you say

In the 2002 liner notes for “My Girl: The Very Best of the Temptations”, group member Otis Williams tells that he often hears from fans that the record’s terrifying depiction of running away kept them from doing so as children. That’s soul power for ya!

You can check out my favoured album reviews for the year here.

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