One of the great R&B vocal groups, or what remains of it, celebrates its legacy and dabbles in contemporary pop. Info/tix
The Temptations have been making big moves to stay relevant. They dropped an album of mostly covers, All The Time, in 2018, applying their classic quintet vocal harmonizing to such contemporary songs as The Weeknd's "Earned It," and Bruno Mars' "When I Was Your Man." There's also three new original Temptations songs, including "Move Your Britches," which are fine, and sound like they're intentionally taking on the current R&B-funk revival vibe of popular musicians like Mars, which is a strange kind of irony that only this glorious era of accelerated capitalism could produce. But The Temptations have always been a well-calculated music production machine, and the band still entertains, with their glamorous choreography and angelic vocal performances, still led by the last remaining founding member, Otis Williams. Also, Williams recently appeared on TMZ to talk about Kanye West, so, there's that.
In addition to the pop-music pivot, the last fully original Temptations album, 2010's 50th-anniversary celebration Still Here, is an interesting snapshot of where liberal politics were eight years ago. The Temptations pronounce, on the Obama-tribute song "Change Has Come," "It's time to stand up / No matter what your race, creed, or sexual preference / A change has come." For baby boomers, that's pretty damn close to political correctness, though gender is left out of the conversation. The Temptations add, "Either you get on board, step aside, or get left behind," in a call to arms so eager it's almost believable. There are probably still bigots who are forced to admit that "My Girl" is one of the best things humans have produced, so here's hoping Williams and company the Wisconsin Union Theater stage to continue announcing their support of progressive politics, even The Temptation's current phase feels like a bit of a cash-in. —Reid Kurkerewicz