Thursday, September 18, 2008

Norman Whitfield (1940-2008) - 48 albums


Genuinely really sad to hear about this. I'd been re-listening to a lot of his work in preparation for the recent blog posts for the Temptations and Rose Royce.

Whitfield was a giant of music, a revolutionary in terms of production, arrangement and content. His politicised and orchestrated psychedelic productions for the Temptations and others at Motown, in combination with lyricist Barrett Strong, changed the way people saw the possibilities of the role music could play in the changing world, and strongly influenced the way everyone else at Motown and elsewhere worked afterwards.

His later work with the Undisputed Truth, Rose Royce, Stargard and others kept the funk alive within the emerging styles of disco, while at the same time pushing the line in terms of instrumentation, arrangement and production.

Here are three tracks that meant something to me, followed by a production discography at the end of the post with 48 album links :


PAPA WAS A ROLLING STONE - The Temptations (1972)

Twelve minutes of melancholy, soul, social politics, alternating sparseness and density, propelled by an insistent wah-wah guitar, haunting trumpet and building string orchestra. By 1972, others had picked up and run with Whitfield and Strong's psychedelic political soul from the late 60s, but here the masters show it's really done, lifting the bar another notch. A masterpiece.

CD rip
big file, it's a 12 min track


KEEP ON KEEPIN' ON - Rose Royce (1976)

While his former charges the Temptations were recording "Wings Of Love", Whitfield gathered Rose Royce together and wrote, arranged and produced the entire soundtrack of "Car Wash", even before the film was made. The tracks were played back on set to inspire the cast. While we're all probably immune now to the charms of the title hit, due to overexposure at countless weddings, 21st birthday parties and office christmas parties, I want to point to the final track on the album.

"Keep On Keeping On" recalls his large-scale Temptations productions. Gwen Dickey sings a melancholy plea for optimism over a building orchestral sound, comprised of pounding acoustic piano, string orchestra, and possibly the best ever performance by Melvin "Wah Wah" Ragin on guitar, as he battles against the orchestral peak with staccato, offbeat wah-screeches. A great piece.

CD rip


HIGH ON THE BOOGIE - Stargard (1981)

The lesser-known third track in a Stargard trilogy that begins with "Which Way is Up" and "What You Waiting For"; "High on the Boogie" is the one that nails the "funky disco" formula for the dancefloor. This track is a secret DJ weapon - just when you think it's hit the rhythmic funk peak, it lifts up yet another level. People have always asked what this is when I've played it out.

With "High on the Boogie", Whitfield incorporates disco without losing sight of the funk. He introduces drum machines, but keeps a human feel with live congas. He includes a growling synth bass that has learnt its lessons from Bernie Worrall, yet he still retains the funk slap of an electric bass guitar to complete the rhythm. There's early rap in this one, there's even a Beatle-esque telephone voice at some stage. See also the Rose Royce 12" from the other day, which comes from the same year, but "High on the Boogie" is the one that best represents this period for me.

my vinyl rip

Temptations - "Puzzle People" (1969) at The Crooner's Corner
Rare Earth – "Ecology” (1970) at Sunglasses After Dark
Temptations - "Psychedelic Shack" (1970) at oloraviejo
Edwin Starr - "War and Peace" at Funk My Soul

Temptations - Sky's The Limit (1971) at Fullundie
Edwin Starr - "Involved" (1971) at Fullundie
Undisputed Truth - "Face to Face With the Truth" (1971) at Oufar Khan / alternate
Undisputed Truth - "The Undisputed truth" (1971) at My Favourite Sound
Temptations - "Solid Rock" (1972) at Fullundie
Temptations - "All Directions" (1972) at Avax (FLAC)
Temptations - "1990" (1973) at Fullundie
Undisputed Truth - "Law of The Land" (1973) at My Favourite Sound

Temptations – "Masterpiece" (1973) at Ile Oxumare
Rare Earth – "Ma" (1973) at Fullundie / alternate 
Undisputed Truth - "Down to Earth" (1974) at Baby Grandpa
David Ruffin - "Me 'n Rock 'n Roll Are Here to Stay" at Fullundie
Rare Earth - "Midnight Lady" (1976) at Sunglasses After Dark
Undisputed Truth - "Higher Than High" (1976) at Fullundie

Temptations - Back To Basics" (1983) at Bentley Funk 3

WHITFIELD RECORDS DISCOGRAPHY (these used Warner Brothers numbering)
WH 2967 - Method to the Madness - Undisputed Truth [1976] from Nikos (thanks!) 

WH 3019 - Nytro - Nytro [1977] at Never Enough Rhodes
WH 3074 - In Full Bloom - Rose Royce [1977] at Soulfunkjazz
WHK 3124 - Music Web - Spyder Turner [1978] at
WHK 3171 - Mammatapee! - Mammatapee [1980] at Soundological Investimigations
WHK 3202 - Smokin' - Undisputed Truth [1979] at Soundological Investimigations
WHK 3226 - In Tune - Willie Hutch [1978] at Blaxploitation jive

WHK 3227 - Rose Royce Strikes Again! - Rose Royce [1978] at The Eternal Dance
WHK 3275 - Return to Nytropolis - Nytro [1979] at Never Enough Rhodes
WHK 3331 - Back Street Boogie - Jr. Walker [1979] at Fullundie 
WHK 3352 - Midnight Dancer - Willie Hutch [1979] at Blaxploitation jive
WHS 3387 - Rainbow Connection IV - Rose Royce [1979] at Lino et Scorpio
WHK 3389 - The Girl's Alright with Me - Masterpiece [1980] at Fullundie

WHK 3397 - Only Love - Spyder Turner [1980] at Fullundie
WHK 3510 - On the One - Mammatapee [1980] at La Magie de la Funk / alternate
WHK 3512 - Golden Touch - Rose Royce [1981] at Disco Train

WHK 3620 - Jump Street - Rose Royce [1981] at Dance Music Factory
"R.R. Express / Lock it Down" - Rose Royce 12" also here.


Rose Royce - "Car Wash" (1976)
- MCA at Drum Machines Have No Soul
Stargard - "Back To Back" (1981) - Warner Bros at Moog Mayhem

Dream Machine - Dream Machine (1981) RCA - ft. Taka Boom at Blogsportsoul

Jackson 5 - "Get It Together" (1973) at Wlasol
(three tracks produced by Whitfield)

I think we've got a complete list now, leave a message in the comments if you know of anything else ... or add something to the "Miscellaneous" section - otherwise just say hi - go on, click the button :)


cheeba said...

Whoa. This is another sad loss. I too have been listening to a lot of his work recently so the timing has a bit more impact.

Godspeed, Mr. Whitfield.

Simon666 said...

Yes, I thought you would have been listening to him as well ... strange that we both just did that posting series of him ..

cheeba said...

I know, you got me started going back to the lesser-known stuff with that Temps LP and you just posted the RR Express. In retrospect, your "Norma Leaves The Building" header takes on a deeper tone, don't you think?

What's weird to me is the whole time I was working on those posts I felt a sense of urgency I normally don't have. They jumped the queue of scheduled posts and I had no plans to do one for Smokin' but for some reason on Saturday I felt compelled to make sure it was done before the end of the weekend.

I can only hope some of that love we were pouring into him at the time was felt on any level at his end.

Simon666 said...

btw the first two are CD rips, third one (Stargard) is my vinyl rip.

Soul Gentleman said...

Hi Simon, very sad news about Norman Whitfield.
(IMHO) One of the best Whitfield's productions was "The bitch is black", the only album from Yvonne Fair, an incredible talent and underrated funk singer; I love her great version of "Funky Music Sho' Nuff Turns Me On", featuring Marvin Gaye:

Gabriel said...

Hey Simon. Thanks yet again. I'm curious as to where you DJ ... or do you prefer to keep your blogger and DJ identities separate...?

Simon666 said...

Hi soul gentleman,
yeah that's a great track! I like the temps version of that one too ...

Hi Yemaya,
at the moment we're just doing a Sunday afternoon / evening at Cafe Lounge in Surry Hills each fornight, see here - next one Sunday 28th - pretty chilled affair, drop by! We could be also doing some Sunday nights at Melt in Kings X October but not confirmed yet ...

Gabriel said...

Thanks Simon - I work Sundays till about 8.30 - so I might have to wait till Melt.

Simon666 said...

Ok, I've attempted a discography at the base of the post ... check it out guys, let me know if you know of any of the unlinked ones, or anything that's missing. Thanks!

Simon666 said...

p.s. I guess I'm looking for albums on which he was the MAIN producer -

if I started including Motown albums on which he did one or two tracks it wouold get out of hand ...

ish said...

thanks for putting this list together. I'm not as familiar with his Whitfield Records period as I am with the MOtown stuff...

Simon666 said...

No problems ish.

The main one I can't seem to find, surprisingly, is The Undisputed Truth's "Method to the Madness". I've got that and can rip it, but i'm sure it must be out there in the blogosphere somewhere .....

Simon666 said...

Also just a note that fullundie has uploaded the rare "Nytro" albums in the last couple of hours ...

Freak Out said...

Thanks for the post!
This site rocks!

cheeba said...

Hi Simon,

Will check to see if I have anything not listed here. Someone ripped and upped the Undisputed Truth discography on torrent last year and it has the only digital copy of Method To The Madness I've seen around. I can tell you I didn't see it on a blog during a very thorough search for the Mammatapee post.

There's also the full Rose Royce discog floating around on torrent but little in the way of blogs covering them. Torrent links are in my post but can be found on mini or pbay search. No or cover few scans, though.

I upped Method to RS here:

Will check back in if I find anything else.

Simon666 said...

Thanks Cheeba!
Just woken up to see your post, and also got an email from Nikos at Funk My Soul with a found rip. His one was slightly higher quality than this one so I've linked his in the post - but many thanks for your effort.

With that, I *think* we now have a complete discography. I had a Gladys Knight one down in the "other" list. but it turned out to just be a comp.

If there's anything missing, it'll be in the Motown section. I used an official discography for the Whitfield Records section, but for Motown I went from AMG and discogs, so there could be more.

Re Rose Royce - they're all at Funkydisposition, with covers, apart from the 1980 greatest hits, for which I've linked to another blog .

Thanks again!

Simon666 said...

and thanks Nikos also !

ish said...

Is Edwin Starr's "War & Peace" one of those with only some Whitfield involvement? I don't know the album but browsing around in blogland I can't find any real does have the super classic "War" on it though.

Also, I've mentioned this to Simon and I'm almost in agreement that I must be hallucinating, but I swear I once heard about a Norman Whitfield album under his own name. Anybody else heard of such a thing? I can find no evidence of it but I was so certain....

Simon666 said...

Hi ish –
Thanks for reminding me, I was investigating that before and had forgotten to finish - I’ve now added a link to the discography for “War and Peace” from Nikos’ Funk My Soul, but still need to check it out further.

There are good front and back cover scans there, which have no actual production credit for the album, but nominate as arrangers Paul Riser, Henry Crosby, Wade Marcus, Willie Shorter and David Van de Pitte (quite a team!). Neither AMG or Discogs give an album production credit.

So I’ll ask Nikos if he can check the labels for a production credit. It’s clear that Whitfield produced the followup album, 1971’s “Involved”, which has both a version of “War’, the followup single “Stop the War, and a variety of Whitfield-Strong compositions. It may have been that the song “War” was simply added to already-done sessions for “War and Peace” ?

But even if it’s just that, the album’s worth having in the discography as the first appearance of the song …
Thanks again

Noman said...

Hi Simon
Thank you for your great effort with the discography.

Michael said...

Hi guys!
Thanks for this materials,
he is a really great man

Hunter said...


About "War & Peace"

Unfortunately there's nothing on the labels too. His name appears only as a writer with B.Strong on the "War" song.

It is really so strange that there's no producer name. just ... "A Product of Motown Record Corp." on the labels.


i have no words to express my gratitude for your hard work on this blog. Keep on brother.

mariam said...

thank you so much for these!!

mariam said...

The link for "Midnight Dancer" is broken, here is a link directly to the post:

Simon666 said...

Thanks Me, fixed now.

cheeba said...

Thanks for all the time you've put into this, Simon. It's nice to get my hands on a few I hadn't heard and a few I'd forgotten about.

Couldn't find info on "War & Peace" over at SoulfulDetroit but I found one release over there not on the list. It's only a single, but was written & produced solely by Whitfield:

In August 1962, the Colemans launched a new label called Thelma, named after their daughter, and that year’s Yellow Pages carried an advert, giving their address as 8040 Dexter Boulevard and stating “Talent Exposed To The Music World”. The label’s first 45 was penned and produced by Norman Whitfield, a song called "Answer Me" that was sung by Richard Street and The Distants. By this time the group included Alphonso Galloway, Richard Street and James Weaver, plus a singer simply remembered as Johnny. Their record got picked up by Harmon Records, but failed to sell.

Some of the 45s are floating around for sale at a premium but no link to a rip so far.

It was also confirmed by Jack Ashford at SoulfulDetroit that Norman had completed overdubs on a new Four Tops album at the turn of the century and they're sitting in his vaults. You may be adding another album yet!

Simon666 said...

Thanks for checking that out Cheeba. I'd been reading some of the tributes at soulfuldetroit, words there from Dennis Coffey, Spyder Turner and some others ...

Anonymous said...

I was thinking of something to say when I saw a comment over at SoulfulDetroit that I thought was very apt at this sad time. It went,

"It was the 16th of September,
That day I'll always remember,
'Cause that was the day a legend died"

RIP Norman.

Unknown said...


How about hooking us up with that entire Stargard album in WAV format? I've been looking for their work for years!

thanks for all your work


Simon666 said...

Hmmmmm maybe :)
No time to post anything at all at the moment, but that's a good idea so I'll put it on the list ...

Unknown said...


Aw shucks!! Guess I'll just have to settle for this Back To Back for the time being. Never heard it before, so it's brand new for me!

Simon666 said...

Here's the full Stargard collection anyway :)

Simon666 said...

it's amazing how many links can go dead in six months ....

I've just checked through all 46 Norman Whitfield albums, and about half of them went to dead blogs, moved blogs, or just dead links ...

Anyway, pleased to say that i've been relinking, all albums are active again,
PLUS there's now a 47th :
the Whitfield-produced "Me N' Rock N' Roll Are Here To Stay" by David Ruffin, from 1974.

Anonymous said...

great post man! nice to have his discography laid out to hear. I'm a huge fan of his, but one of those things where i've thought it's not known enough how much he contributed. musn't forget Barrett Strong also!
I found "Solid Rock" by the Temps years ago in a used record store. i bought simply because it looked like it had to be funky. i have to say i made a good call!
Norman Whitfield is brilliant, lost an incredibly creative mind in the world.

Anonymous said...

Fantatsic work here, Norman Whitfield what a genius - been listening to some of the Undisputed Truth back catalog from here, got the original vinyl of Cosmic Truth but never managed to get any of the other stuff. Just been reading a Taka Boom Bio and she mentions being involved with a Norman Whitfield Project called Dream Machine, has anyone heard of or got any of this stuff ?

Simon666 said...

So glad you mentioned that, I had no idea it was a Whitfield production.

Added to the discography, and you'll find it here :

(note that the password is sb)

Additional information here :|MACHINE&sql=11:fxfuxqegldke~T1

Anonymous said...

RE Dream Machine : WOW - what a response, quick & helpful. You guys do not get enough thanks and I know I am guilty of not always giving thanks, but I hope you are aware that you give a lot of happiness to a lot of people like me. I love the music and it's great to be able to access this stuff again. Please, Please, Please - keep up the good work.

Simon666 said...

Glad to help, thanks for pointing it out :) If you come across any other Whitfield productions that I don't have listed here, let me know. I was SURE I had them all until you mentioned that one :)

Anonymous said...

Waaahhhuuu !
I didn't know Whitefield, only his productions and it's really huge !
thanx Simon for everything


Unknown said...

THANKS A LOT! you are really really great :)

Simon666 said...

No problems Adit, thanks for the comment :)

J Reid said...

on of my top five favorite producers.
a sad loss

Dr. Funkathus said...

It's Norman Whitfield Day today. So I'd just posted a message on my blog with links to this great page and to Baby Grandpa's one where you wrote this interesting stuff about Nytro...
By the way, it's only a few days ago, that I put a column of links on my blog. And Never Enough Rhodes is amongst them...

Mathieu DALLA SANTA said...

Hi from France Everybody !

I'm not a huge specialist but I love Soul and Funk Music as much as you seems to, and Norman Whitfield is a King for me... Thank you very much for all the informations about his works, it helps me a lot in my own work to get as much pieces as I can of Norman's creation... May be I didn't saw them up but I found two other tracks written by King Norman :

- "Pop Your Fingers" 1980

- "Do Your Dance" 1977

I Hope that I contribute to this great and unic discography !

Simon666 said...

Thanks for dropping by Mathieu :)

"Pop Your Fingers" is on the Greatest Hits album, and "Do Your Dance" is on the "In Full Bloom" album - so both available above in some form or another :)
I'll have to get to all of those dead links at some stage too ...

ed said...

norman whitfield made an album with the band Karma,he wrote several tracks for the album.Who can help me out with the name of the album.i lost the album some time ago.

Eddye Oldschool said...

I'm looking for Spyder Turner album - Only Love. But the link takes me to a blog that I can not access. Could post? Thank you. Your work is very good.

Simon666 said...

Hi Eddye - Sorry, I don't seem to have that anymore, possibly means it wasn't a favourite of mine :) Can anyone else here help out ?

the saucer people said...

Obviously nearly all the links are long dead, hell, most of the blogs have disappeared, from the ones I have checked anyway!

I did find a working link for the Mammatapee album:

Also I was blown away to discover one of my all time favourite tracks - Yvonne Fair's It Should Have Been Me (which was actually a hit for her here in the UK in 1975 I think) was co-written and produced by him. God knows how many times I have listened to the album and just not noticed it!

For anyone looking for it - here are some links to both APE-WAV and MP3 rips of the 1975 Yvonne Fair Bitch Is Back 2008 CD reissue:



Worth getting just for It Could Have Been Me and Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On

For decompressing the APE file into WAV just get a tool from the Monkey's Audio site.

I know most of the Undisputed Truth albums are available with a little digging though maybe if you have the time and inclination, it may be worth reposting the post with a request for new links, I know I would help.