A complete guide to all the Temptations' songs in 'Ain't Too Proud'
Find out more about the 31 Motown songs in the show, including "My Girl," "Get Ready," "War," "For Once in My Life," and "If You Don't Know Me By Now."
Get ready for a jukebox musical with tons of heart and soul — not to mention funky moves — as we celebrate Motown megastars The Temptations. Ain’t Too Proud, which tells the fascinating life stories of the band’s “Classic Five” members (Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks, and David Ruffin), premiered on Broadway in 2019 and is now grooving its way into the Prince Edward Theatre in the West End.
We’ve got an ultra-talented line-up for the London opening of Ain’t Too Proud. Those fab five are played by Tosh Wangho-Maud, Sifiso Mazibuko, Mitchell Zhangazha, Cameron Bernard Jones, and Kyle Cox – veterans of West End hits like Hamilton, The Drifters Girl, and Motown the Musical.
They’ll delve into the ridiculously amazing back catalnumber-oneogue of The Temptations, including many of their number one hits. Plus the musical features other contemporary songs from the likes of Diana Ross and the Supremes. So, if you ain’t too proud to beg, follow us on a journey through some of the most beloved tracks in Motown.
Book Ain't Too Proud tickets on London Theatre.
“The Way You Do the Things You Do”
The Temptations’ first charting single on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1964, written by Smokey Robinson and Bobby Rogers, has Eddie Kendricks singing lead. This is a seriously smooth way to open a show — and, per the lyrics, will definitely sweep the audience off their feet.
“Runaway Child, Running Wild”
We’re in darker territory with this psychedelic soul track, which tells of a young boy running away from home and getting into trouble. It tells the audience that Ain’t Too Proud isn’t going to shy away from difficult material — and neither did The Temptations.
We’re back to swooning and crooning with this popular doo-wop track. Love, naturally, is at the heart of The Temptations’ output — and in the show too.
“In the Still of the Night” / “Speedo”
Another doo-wop great — in fact, it can even lay claim to being the original doo-wop song — its tender lyrics gently contrast the melancholy tune: the ache of a love that might not always be there. In the musical, it’s juxtaposed with “Speedo”, a rather different kind of wooing: a lothario happy to steal other guys’ girls.
British viewers might be surprised to hear this one without Lulu’s trademark opening wail. In fact, “Shout” was originally by the Isley Brothers (evolving out of an encore call-and-response with the audience), and now becomes an irresistible upbeat number in Ain’t Too Proud.
“I Want a Love I Can See”
This was the first Temptations A-side to be written by Smokey Robinson — and he gifted a great lead vocal to Paul Williams. He acts as the song’s narrator, telling us what he believes true love is, in this sincere track.
This soul classic, inspired by Smokey Robinson’s love for his wife Claudette (a member of the Miracles), was the Temptations's first US number-one single. Gorgeously sung by David Ruffin, it’s a breezy joy: you only have to hear that opening bass riff to know exactly what’s coming.
Another Smokey special, this was actually the last song that Robinson wrote for The Temptations. Led by Eddie Kendricks and his distinctive falsetto, it’s an up-tempo number that was designed to capitalise on a dance craze, The Duck.
“You Can’t Hurry Love” / “Come See About Me” / “Baby Love”
Welcome, Diana Ross and the Supremes! It’s almost a Dreamgirls/Ain’t Too Proud mash-up, as the divas of Motown nab the spotlight with this trio of stone-cold classics. In the West End premiere, you’ll get to see Holly Liburd inhabiting the great Diana Ross.
“Since I Lost My Baby”
Sometimes, we’re singing the blues — or close to it, anyway, with this mournful R&B number about losing a lover. It’s another great track for David Ruffin, as well as for Melvin Franklin.
“Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”
We’re back to upbeat with the mighty title number of the show. This 1966 single – written by Norman Whitfield and Edward Holland Jr, and with Ruffin again singing lead — became a signature hit for The Temptations, and cemented their partnership with Whitfield.
“Don’t Look Back” / “You’re My Everything”
The former is a powerful showcase for the troubled Paul Williams, with its bittersweet message about how it’s worth going through all the pain if it leads to true love. In Ain’t Too Proud, it melts into “You’re My Everything”: a beautifully awe-struck paean (led by Eddie Kendricks) to the woman who has transformed the singer’s life.
“If I Could Build My Whole World Around You”
The spirit of “You’re My Everything” continues in this similarly worshipful number. It captures the dizzying bliss of falling in love, where everything seems to revolve around that magical, transformative person in your life.
“If You Don’t Know Me by Now”
But the course of true love never did run smooth. This more sophisticated number paints a more complex picture, with its central plea for understanding: we might not be perfect, but there’s something here worth fighting for.
“(I Know) I’m Losing You”
The Temptations do heartbreak just as stirringly as they sing about falling in love. This 1966 hit, led by David Ruffin, tells of that exquisite pain when you feel your lover pulling away – and possibly leaving you for someone else.
“I Wish It Would Rain”
With heartbreak comes rain – and this soulful blues number both captures that despair (another great lead vocal by David Ruffin) all while propelling us onwards with its firm percussive beat. It’s thoroughly cathartic.
“I Could Never Love Another (After Losing You)”
The great Act One closing number is their 1968 hit — and the final to feature David Ruffin as a lead singer, after a series of rows with the band and management. It’s basically the big break-up song for The Temptations, leaving us wondering how they’ll continue on after the interval.
“I Can’t Get Next to You”
Act Two opens with a number one single for The Temptations — which, appropriately at this fractious time for the group, is all about life going well, but still feeling unhappy because you can’t be with the one you love.
“I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”
This joint single by The Temptations and Diana Ross and the Supremes shrugs off that sadness and instead has both groups urging us to fight for love. For The Temptations, too, it’s a great demonstration of their resilience.
Ain’t Too Proud isn’t just about the music business: it’s also attuned to the important events of the day. That’s illustrated by the inclusion of numbers like the counterculture soul track “War” — a blistering anti-Vietnam War protest song.
“Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today)”
Another track with strong social commentary, from racism and drugs to taxes, unemployment, hippies, and war. It’s the kind of song that might surprise Ain’t Too Proud audience members who only know The Temptations for their romantic crooning.
“Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)”
This number one track was the final one to feature Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams: the former left to pursue a solo career, while Williams had to leave for health reasons. That adds extra poignancy to this beautifully wistful number.
“Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)”
Ain’t Too Proud is highly attuned to the perils and pressures of fame. You get a strong sense of that here, in what is basically a diss track aimed at former members David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks.
“For Once in My Life”
This gorgeously buoyant ballad is probably best known as a Stevie Wonder hit, but The Temptations recorded it too — it became one of the great showcase numbers for Paul Williams, who takes lead here.
“Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”
The Temptations won a Grammy for their version of this track in 1972, which features experimental, extended instrumental passages (with that distinctive blues guitar, bass riff, and hi-hat cymbal rhythm), plus each of the band members taking on the role of siblings interrogating their mother about their absent, now late father.
Dennis Edwards leads the psychedelic soul recording. This song follows the pattern of social commentary with some of the familial unrest of “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” — and a longing to escape.
“What Becomes of the Brokenhearted”
As Ain’t Too Proud draws to a close, we get a song full of both melancholy and hope: yes, a particular love (or band configuration) has gone, but life — and The Temptations — will continue on. Jimmy Ruffin, David's older brother, leads the enduring Motown ballad.
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Photo credit: Ain't Too Proud (Photo courtesy of production)
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