Not just your imagination: ‘Temptations’ musical rocks

Berkeley Rep’s world premiere musical, which opened Thursday, Sept. 14, under the direction of Des McAnuff, makes songs resounding clarion calls from their opening beats — the teasing jazz piano riff of “I Can’t Get Next To You,” the ache-filled strings soaring over gentle guitar thrums in “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me).” Richly textured, perfectly blended harmonies back lead vocals that somehow combine swaggering showmanship, meticulously honed technique and emotion of almost unbearable intensity. Channeling Eddie Kendricks, actor Jeremy Pope has an otherwordly, buttery falsetto that warbles among notes as if they were playthings. When David Ruffin (Ephraim Sykes) takes the lead on the show’s title track, abasing himself before his love for an imagined woman, he howls as if to implore the grim reaper for a few minutes more to live.


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Barry White

I am a huge Barry White fan.

I am a fan mostly because of the Saturday mornings where my mother would blast her music while she cleaned the house. My mother would wake me up with her Kirby vacuum cleaner which would bump up against my door as she cleaned the hallway leading to my room. During her morning sessions, she would be singing along to whatever LP she had on the turntable at the time. She loved playing Barry White albums.

During these years (1973-1976) it seemed as if I listened to his albums over and over again. I also remember during those Saturday mornings hearing her play singers like Al Green and Teddy Pendergrass. As I grew older, I started to check out my older sister’s music as she sang along to various songs. It was in 1977 where I found the music I loved to listen to on my own. I loved groups like Kiss, P-Funk, The Brothers Johnson, Cameo, Rufus as well as many others. I would take my parent’s records into the basement and play drums along to these various artists for hours.

Barry White’s drummer Ed Greene was incredible. All you need to hear is the drum intro to “I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More” to know how deep his groove was. He also played some of the most interesting pre-disco era grooves ever. I highly recommend checking out the catalogue of Barry White from that era and just listen to the grooves, the rhythm, the orchestrations, the songs and Barry’s voice. What an incredible influence he was to so many people and to me as a musician.


This story is great by the way. I read about it in his autobiography years ago:

The audio is off but the groove is there:

Check out that orange suit: