This Weeks Featured Artist is:

The Undisputed Truth

 

The Undisputed Truth was originally a trio, put together by fragments left from a couple of Motown groups. Joe Harris came from The Preps and had been involved with the Ohio Players in the 60's. Billie Rae Calvin and Brenda Joyce had a past history in The Delicates and as backup singers for Diana Ross, Four Tops and Edwin Starr. The year was 1970 and the man behind this project was famous Motown producer Norman Whitfield.

 

Undisputed Truth has always been regarded as some sort of forever-and-ever warm up band, and not as a real group. Even if Norman saved his goodies for The Temptations to record, it's not fair to put the Undisputed Truth off as guinea-pigs. All three members had voices that cannot be neglected. Calvin's and Joyce's harmonies were like two singing birds around Harris' great lead. In fact, Temptation's monster hit Papa Was A Rolling Stone was first recorded by the Undisputed Truth. But their version never reached the same commercial success as Temptation's Grammy award winning version.

The group, in my opinion, got more interesting as time went on. The original trio broke up in the mid-seventies and a new line-up was formed, based around original member Joe Harris. The new people coming in was Taka Boom (sister of Chaka Khan), Virginia McDonald, Tyrone "Lil Ty" Barkley and Calvin "Dhaakk" Stephenson. Whitfield kept on toying with their sound and they underwent a dramatic change in image and sound, resulting in a range from psychedelic soul and funk to black rock. They got dirtier and nastier and shocked the fans with the clear Funkadelic influences on their releases from the second half of the 70's. Painted faces and white afros became their special trademark.

Norman Whitfield was responsible for the radical change in The Temptations' sound. He brought in some adventure and innovation to Motown. The idea with the Undisputed Truth was problably to try out new stuff and experiment. At least you get this feeling when you look at the sleeves of Cosmic Truth and Higher Than High. The members of the group are not listed, only the studio musicians.

The debut album The Undisputed Truth was released in 1971. A soulful record with Motown feeling. They enjoyed a top 3 R&B hit with Smiling Faces Sometimes. A piece of psychedelic soul from Whitfield and his writing partner Barrett Strong. This was their biggest hit and nothing of later material could match this success.

In time for the seventh album, Method To The Madness, Norman dropped the black rock thing and turned the production towards funk and disco. This is my favorite album from the group, not a single bad cut. The title track and Hole In The Wall are plain monster funk with the coolest basslines. They had a minor hit with the disco rocket You + Me = Love.

The group disbanded after their record Smokin' in 1979. Taka Boom headed for a solo career, what happened to the remaining members, I don't know.

This group is absolutely worth checking out. As far as I know, none of their albums have been reissued on CD. The only thing that turned up on CD is a greatest hits compilation, but it doesn't cover enough to do the Undisputed Truth justice. Spend your money on the original vinyl releases instead.

(Courtesy of www.the-undisputed-truth.com)