Numerous R&B groups have fallen into obscurity following the departure of the lead singer. One such group was Public Announcement which collaborated with a disgraced R&B singer for a 1992 project.
Second Listen Sunday : Eddie Kendricks, All By Myself
In January of 1971, Eddie Kendricks’ smooth falsetto had just given his group The Temptations another number one hit in the form of “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)” when he decided to branch out on his own. As legend has it, while the Temps were making hits with Norman Whitfield produced psychedelic soul records, where all five Temptations sang leads, Kendricks was keener on the Smokey Robinson style ballads.
While I don’t know if Kendricks had always planned to go solo, or if his best friend Paul Williams ousting played a part, but Kendricks was already working on his album while still with The Temps. In the spring of 1971, Kendrick took the leap and released his first solo album, All By Myself.
Motown was quietly preparing a move from Detroit to Los Angles, but thankfully, Kendricks was able to link up with the label’s legendary house band, the Funk brothers, before the move. Kendricks opens his solo project with “Let’s Go Back to Day One” and for my film fans, I’m sure you remember hearing this one in Mahogany four years later.
Kendricks opens the song with a confident bravado and feels right at home as a solo artist. The album’s next song, “This Used to Be the Home of Johnnie Mae,” finds the singer tapping into his southern soul roots. I actually like the song, because anyone who has messed up in a relationship with a woman can relate.
“I Did It All For You” is honesty allowing Kendricks’s vocals to come across as smooth as butter. In dissecting the lyrics, this particular portion of the song stands out,
“All I ever wanted darling, was to be your man.
I thought you knew,
I did it all, I did it all for you Yeah,
I did it all for you,
Alright sometimes I cheated And yes,
I guess I lied every now and then
But before you go, I want you to know
How much I cried darling, darling, darling ooh baby.”
I love this message in the song, as it finds Kendricks taking ownership of his mistakes and knowing he has to leave his woman.
Kendricks keeps the album short at only seven tracks. The remaining songs, “It’s So Hard For Me To Say Goodbye”, “Didn’t We,” and “Something’s Burning,” all focus on the facets of love while we hear the immense talent of Mr. Kendricks. Naturally, one of his signature songs also appears in “Can I.”
Kendricks opens the song with a question of asking permission before he makes a move on someone that he finds attractive. Working with the legendary Hal Davis, Kendricks constructed a song that stands the test of time. While Kendricks wouldn’t see the same success he had in The Temps as a solo artist, All By Myself was a solid start to his solo career.
Final Grade: B
All By Myself is available on all streaming platforms
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