TEMPTATIONS by Otis with Patricia Romanowski Williams


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A lukewarm celebrity bio from the founding member of the Temptations, assisted by writer Romanowski (Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme; Vanna Speaks). Williams can be a charming storyteller, and occasionally injects refreshing perspectives (""I don't know what went down with the Marcoses, politically speaking, but she was. . .not a bad dancer""), but it isn't enough to carry this fleshed-out discography. He's at his best speaking of his childhood in Texarkana and then Detroit, drawing vivid pictures of loving family life in what could conventionally be called a broken home; but that material's brief, and once he's put together a group (Otis Williams and the Siberians, then the Distants) and hooked up with Berry Gordy at Motown, the book becomes less a narrative than a chronological series of anecdotes, most of them neither exciting nor revealing. Williams is either too kind or too timid or too smart to truly dish anyone, so even Gordy's questionable business practices don't come out badly. We find out what Williams thinks of all his records (in sometimes numbing detail), we get mentions of all the big names from Motown--the Supremes; Marvin Gaye; the Jacksons; Stevie Wonder; Smokey; etc.--and we hear the shuffle of the Temptations, as one member after another quits, gets fired, starts a solo act, comes back, leaves again and so on. Mentions of larger issues (segregation; King's assassination; rioting; apartheid; Vietnam) seem obligatory, seldom more than a paragraph in length. Lots of dropped names, then, and some local color, in a slight and superficial tale of Motown.

Pub Date: Sept. 6th, 1988
ISBN: 0815412185
Publisher: Putnam