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Ball Of Confusion - The Temptations

Ball Of Confusion

The Collection
motown soul funk political classic rock


"Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)" is a 1970 hit single for the Gordy (Motown) label, recorded by The Temptations and produced by Norman Whitfield. Like "Psychedelic Shack" before it, "Ball of Confusion" delves head-on into psychedelia, this time with a strong political message. The lyrics list a multitude of problems that were tearing the world apart in 1970: the Vietnam War, segregation, white flight, drug abuse, crooked politicians, and more. "Round and around and around we go", the Temptations sing, "where the world's headed/nobody knows." The end of each section of the Temptations' lists of woes is punctuated by bass singer Melvin Franklin's line, "And the band played on." "Ball of Confusion's" lyrics are delivered over an up-tempo instrumental track with two drum tracks (one for each stereo channel), multitracked wah-wah guitars, and an ominous bassline by Funk Brother Bob Babbitt that opens the song. Norman Whitfield's dramatic count-in, always recorded at the very start of a recording for synching purposes only, was left in the mix for this record. Despite its strong political themes, the record consciously avoids implying a definitive point-of-view or a defiant stance. This is because the Temptations song "War", which Norman Whitfield intended as a spring 1970 single release, was not released due to Motown's concern the song's forward message could alienate more conservative listeners. Whitfield took "War" and reworked it as a single for Gordy solo artist Edwin Starr (for whom it became a #1 hit), while he and lyricist Barrett Strong wrote the more subtle "Ball of Confusion" for the Temptations. When they first saw the sheet music for the song, The Temptations didn't think they would be able to pull off the rapid-fire delivery required for the song. Lead singer Dennis Edwards had the quickest tongue in the group, and was assigned to deliver the more difficult lines in the song. Eddie Kendricks was given a rare chance to sing in a tenor voice for his verses. "Ball of Confusion" is among the Temptations' most covered songs, with versions by the Neville Brothers, Tina Turner, The Undisputed Truth, Love and Rockets, Widespread Panic, Duran Duran, Anthrax, Tesla (on Real to Reel), among others. It was used to anchor the 1970 Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 LP. The song reached #3 on the US pop charts and #2 on the US R&B charts. The song was also sampled on UNKLE's Never, Never, Land album in the song "Eye for an Eye". It was famously covered by Whoopi Goldberg, Mary Wickes, Kathy Najimy, and other actresses in the film Sister Act 2. HBO used the song as the basis of a televised promo for the fourth season of its drama The Wire. It was also used in the intro of the film Tropic Thunder.


The Temptations may refer to at least two groups 1. The Temptations are an American Motown singing group whose repertoire has included doo-wop, soul, psychedelia, funk, disco, rnb, and adult contemporary. Formed in Detroit, Michigan in 1960 as The Elgins. The group, known for its finely tuned choreography, distinct harmonies, and stylish suits, has been said to be as influential to soul as The Beatles are to rock. Having sold an estimated 22 million albums by 1982 Show more ...

Ball Of Confusion - The Temptations

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