I Can Sail A Ship On Dry Land

Eddie Kendricks, co-founder and former leader singer of The Temptations, released some fantastic solo albums for the Tamla/Motown label in the early 1970s. Kendricks  had a killer falsetto, which was later imperiled by chain smoking. He died in the early 1992 from lung cancer, after losing a lung to the disease. 

Kendricks sang lead on many of The Temptations’ best jams, including “The Way You Do the Things You Do”, “Get Ready, and “Please Return Your Love to Me.” He’s the tall one on the right. Very handsome. 

Here’s Eddie singing lead on “The Way You Do the Things You Do.” Check out the amazing dance moves from the group.

When Kendricks left The Temptations it was due partially to sparring with in-house writer/producer Norman Whitfield, who was steering the band toward a more experimental, psychedelic sound along the lines of  “War”, the Edwin Starr hit. Kendricks was foremost a balladeer; singing about Vietnam, drugs, or being poor in the inner-city did not appeal much to his loverboy sensibilities.

To appease Kendricks, Whitfield wrote “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)’, which proved to be a giant hit for the group. Despite that success, Kendricks still ached for a solo career. Struggles ensued in the group over who would sing lead; first with David Ruffins, who was ejected from the group, and later with new member Dennis Edwards, who began eclipsing Eddie, and embraced the Temps’ new sound.  Begrudgingly, Motown let Eddie leave the group to record an album. Despite changing labels in the later 70s, he continued to have difficulties with Motown, particularly over royalties, as did most Motown artists. 

His first solo record People…Hold On is beautiful stuff. It didn’t sell incredibly well, but longer dance tracks like “Girl You Need A Change of Mind” got played by DJs, including David Mancuso, who played it at the loft parties that were instrumental in rushing in the disco era. Here are two stand-out tracks from the 1972 album. 

If You Let Me

Date With the Rain

Here’s Eddie singing “If You Let Me” on Soul Train. So smooth.

Off of his 1975 album, Hit Man, is my favorite Eddie Kendricks song. It’s about skipping out of work so you can stay home with your baby and make sweet love.

Skippin’ Work Today

Eddie Kendricks continued to record and perform until shortly before his death, but this is sort of the hot period for me.

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3 responses to “I Can Sail A Ship On Dry Land

  1. Very smooth song from a very smooth “marvin gaye-type brother. I could two-step to this song all nite or make love.

  2. Very nice post on one of my favorite tenors of all time! I too have been working on a “Tribute” to Eddie and am a longtime admirer.
    I hope to have it completed for publishing soon.

  3. Good post on an overlooked talent. W.

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