Album Review: The Temptations – Wish it Would Rain

Detroit soul/r&b vocal group The Temptations were early stars on Berry Gordy’s Motown label. The group had its roots in earlier vocal groups The Cavaliers, The Primes, The Siberians and The Distants; after briefly working as The Elgins, the group settled on the Temptations name, coalescing around five singers: Otis Williams, Elbridge “Al” Bryant, Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams. The hit singles began in 1962 and continued well into the ‘90s.

Along the way, the lineup inevitably changed; some members went on to solo careers, and newer singers came in to take their places. (Most notably, David Ruffin joined in ‘64.) Many Gold records and Grammys were accumulated over the years. A musical victory lap, the critically well-received Temptations 60 was released in 2022. Today, a lineup featuring founding member Otis Williams continues to perform live dates.

In the late ‘60s, the group was especially productive; between 1967 and ‘70, The Temptations released five albums under their own name, plus two in collaboration with their distaff counterparts, The Supremes. A highlight of that period is 1968’s Wish it Would Rain. With exceedingly limited availability on vinyl after a 1982 reissue, a new re-pressing of the LP as part of Elemental Music’s ambitious Motown Sound Collection is most welcome.

The twelve-song LP features the Temptations’ trademark harmonies and varied vocal leads. Norman Whitfield’s crystalline production keeps the emphasis on those vocals, but the grandeur of the instrumental backup – lots of strings, rock-solid drumming – provides the ideal sonic cavas upon which the five singers can paint their vocal artistry.

Wish it Would Rain marked Ruffin’s final release before leaving The Temptations for a solo career. (In fact he quite before the album was completed.) Here he takes the lead on the title track (a hit single) and “I Could Never Love Another (After You).” As the final “classic 5” outing from the group, I Wish it Would Rain closed one chapter on The Tempts’ illustrious career. With Ruffin’s replacement Dennis Edwards, the group embarked on its equally-revered “psychedelic soul” era. But for lovers of the sound that gained the group its fame, I Wish it Would Rain is one essential piece of the puzzle.