The Temptations with a Lot o’ Soul is the fifth studio album by The Temptations for the Gordy (Motown) label released in 1967. Featuring four hit singles, With a Lot o’ Soul is the most successful Temptations album from their “classic 5” era, during which David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, and Otis Williams constituted the Temptations’ lineup.
The four singles from the album, all Top 20 pop/ Top 10 R&B hits, were “(I Know) I’m Losing You”, “All I Need”, “You’re My Everything”, and “(Loneliness Made Me Realize) It’s You That I Need”. three of these four songs also reached the Billboard Pop Top 10 as well. Norman Whitfield produced most of the tracks here, supporting the Temptations’ vocals with a hard-edged soul sound with elements of the music of James Brown.
“(I Know) I’m Losing You“, already a nine-month-old hit by the time With a Lot o’ Soul was released, opens the album. The rest of the album expands upon the template established by Norman Whitfield with “I’m Losing You”. Whitfield and the other With a Lot o’ Soul producers, including Ivy Jo Hunter, Smokey Robinson, and, on “All I Need” (in which Ruffin portrays a man who admits to his lover he has been unfaithful and begs her forgiveness), Whitfield’s protégé Frank Wilson, supply the group a more modern sound than was present on previous or contemporary Motown releases. Most of the tracks on side A of the album feature brass-heavy, dramatic backing tracks with more prominent uses of electric guitar lines (Whitfield’s “(I Know) I’m Losing You” and Ivy Jo Hunter’s “Sorry is a Sorry Word” from side B) and shifts in dynamics (Whitfield’s “Ain’t No Sun Since You’ve Been Gone”, the single “(Loneliness Made Me Realize) It’s You That I Need”, and the Eddie Kendricks-led “Save My Love for a Rainy Day”).
Paul Williams delivers a dramatic performance on the Smokey Robinson-produced “No More Water in the Well”,(written by Robinson and fellow Miracles Warren “Pete” Moore and Bobby Rogers, an uptempo number regularly identified as one of his standout performances. Williams and the other Temptations constantly complained about Williams’ not being able to sing lead on more album tracks, and on singles as well, but Motown paid their complaints no heed, and continued to rely on David Ruffin’s (and occasionally Eddie Kendricks’) leads for each single.
Side B begins with “Just One Last Look”, written and produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland, Motown’s main songwriting and production team. The Temptations were one of the few major Motown acts never to release a single produced by the trio, because of Whitfield’s (and previously, Robinson’s) tight hold on the group. Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier had to in fact fight for the chance to produce “Just One Last Look” for the Temptations, and Whitfield successfully blocked its release as a single. “Just One Last Look” remains the only H-D-H produced track to appear on any Temptations studio album.
While David Ruffin takes most of the leads on the album and its singles, he shares the spotlight with Eddie Kendricks on the Norman Whitfield/Cornelius Grant/Roger Penzabene love ballad “You’re My Everything”. Penzabene wrote “You’re My Everything” specifically with Kendricks in mind to sing it (Ruffin only sings lead during the bridge), and visualized the singer performing it to a “special girl” Kendricks would pick out of the audience (“You’re the girl I sing about/in every love song I sing/You’re my everything, girl.”).
With a Lot o’ Soul concludes with three more ballads: Smokey Robinson’s “Now That You’ve Won Me” (led by Ruffin), Norman Whitfield’s “Two Sides to Love” (led by Kendricks), and Robinson’s “Don’t Send Me Away” (a rare lead showcase for stalwart Temptation Otis Williams).