R.I.P. Norman Whitfield, Motown Studio/Songwriting Ace

The producer and songwriter who displaced Smokey Robinson as the lead producer for the Temptations and helped usher Motown into its psychedelic, socially conscious era has gone to a session in the great Studio A in the sky.

He leaves behind a string of truly potent singles and album tracks from the mid-late 1960s and early '70s. (Well, those and the songs he did with Rose Royce on his own label, after leaving Motown in 1975.)

Here are a few of Whitfield's greatest hits (and near-misses), most of them co-written by Barrett Strong. Some stone-cold classics here, even if Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan did do their best to ruin "War" in "Rush Hour."

"Papa Was a Rolling Stone" - The Temptations

"War" - Edwin Starr

"Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)" - The Temptations

"Cloud Nine" - The Temptations

"I Heard It Through the Grapevine" - Gladys Knight & the Pips

"I Heard It Through the Grapevine" - Marvin Gaye

"Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)" - The Temptations

"Ain't Too Proud to Beg" - The Temptations

"Needle in a Haystack" - The Velvelettes

By J. Freedom du Lac |  September 17, 2008; 2:38 PM ET Appreciations
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I was 16 years old before I understood the whole import of Motown, at that time buying just about every reissue I could get my hands on, sometimes an original if I was lucky, the music it's own language of feeling and truth.

Marvin Gaye's "Grapevine" stands as a Platonic ideal of music, as does the other Motown genius, personally, I'm hard pressed to name greater musicians, among equals.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 22, 2008 4:12 PM

When I listen to "War" I find the words so revealing and I wish all world leaders who want to inflict war on a country would listen to the words.

"War what is it good for absolutely nothing....War means tears To thousands of mothers eyes When their sons go to fight
And lose their lives...War, friend only to the undertaker...It's an enemy to all mankind The point of war blows my mind
War has caused unrest Within the younger generation Induction then destruction..."

Google and read the lyrics. Whenever I hear this song now I remember listening to it during the Vietnam War and I wonder how we can be in another war.

Posted by: War | September 22, 2008 6:47 PM

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