The Temptations released one of the enduring singles of the rock and roll era 49 years ago when “My Girl” topped the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts. The song was propelled by the sweet tenor voice of David Ruffin. During his time with the Temptations he provided the lead vocals for such hits as “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg,” “All I Need,” and “Beauty Is Only Skin Deep.” His time with the group was short, 1964-1968, but he would help leave a lasting legacy and be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
He was asked to leave the group in the summer of 1968, but would quickly recover and issue two solo albums within a period of six months. While he would never be as commercially successful as during his time with the Temptations, his solo releases would sell moderately well and produce some fine music. Real Gone Music has now collected his first two solo albums and reissued them as a two for one under the title My Whole World Ended/Feelin’ Good.
His debut release, My Whole World Ended, is the superior of the two albums. Released during the spring of 1969, it was more emotional and rawer than the smooth soul sound of his former group. The only song that runs counter to this formula was the hit single “My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me),” which was originally written for the Temptations. It has a smooth Sam Cooke quality as it just flows along.
“Pieces of a Man” and “I’ve Got to Find Myself a Brand New Baby” are symbolic of the tougher sound that he brought to his solo releases.
The follow-up album, Feelin’ Good, moved in a number of directions and did not have the cohesiveness of his previous release. In addition, four of the 12 tracks were recorded at the time of his debut but were not used. It gives the album a cobbled-together feel.
Still there are a number of good performances. “I’m So Glad I Fell for You” is an excursion into the gospel realm, complete with a church organ and backing choir. He comes close to a pop swing sound on the Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell hit, “What You Gave Me.” Finally he takes the rock song “Feelin’ Alright” and inserts some positive, upbeat, funky vibes.
My Whole World Ended/Feelin’ Good is a fine introduction to the solo career of one of music’s premier soul singers. While not completely successful, both albums remain a fine listen nearly 45 years after their initial release.