On this day in music history: April 14, 1973 - “Masterpiece” by The Temptations hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #7 on the Hot 100 on April 28, 1973. Written and produced by Norman Whitfield, it is the eleventh R&B chart topper for the veteran Motown vocal group. Songwriter and producer Norman Whitfield will give the song its title when he feels that all of the combined elements of the piece add up to a “masterpiece”, though the word does not appear in the lyrics. Whitfield will write “Masterpiece” as a sequel to the Grammy winning smash “Papa Was A Rolling Stone (and the album “All Directions”), and features members of The Funk Brothers providing musical support and is arranged by Paul Riser. The single and album are recorded during a period where there is ever mounting tension between the highly strung producer and The Temptations, who are unhappy at having no say in the creative process, and are being referred to by music critics as “the Norman Whitfield Choral Singers”. “Masterpiece” will be edited down from its nearly fourteen minute epic length down to under four and a half minutes for single release. Though the Tempts will top the R&B chart three more times with “Let Your Hair Down”, “Happy People”, “Shakey Ground”, in 1974 and 1975 respectively, “Masterpiece” will be will be the group’s last top 10 pop hit for eighteen years, returning to upper reaches of the chart when they collaborate with Rod Stewart on “The Motown Song” peaking at #10 in September of 1991. “Masterpiece” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
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