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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Temptations, O'Jays Go Beyond Moldy Oldies

February 23, 1988|DUNCAN STRAUSS

The Temptations and the O'Jays together--as they were Sunday at the Celebrity Theatre in Anaheim--represent about 50 years of experience, a slew of personnel changes and approximately 1 zillion hits.

But this one-two punch of steamy, soulful singing and dazzling dancing was no moldy nostalgia package. Both outfits are touring behind current albums, and the Temptations clearly received a rejuvenating shot in the arm with the recent return of Dennis Edwards, who had left the group twice .

As if to emphasize that the Temptations weren't going to merely coast on oldies--and that Edwards had rejoined the lineup--the quintet glided on stage performing the perky new "Look What You Started," with Edwards taking an often soaring lead vocal.

The formally clad orchestra quickly moved into high gear, propelling the fivesome to a zesty visit to the "Psychedelic Shack." The group leaped back 18 years for that spirited workout, which threw fuel on the spark ignited by the opening number. But the Temptations promptly sprang back to the present, easing into the new ballad "Every Time I Close My Eyes."

'Twas ever thus Sunday, though the ratio eventually moved toward more classics than currents. To a man (and to a song) the vocals were superb, delivered with a remarkable freshness and emotional edge, considering the group wasn't exactly singing these tunes for the first time.

And these gents are no spring chickens, but that didn't prevent them from presenting a healthy dose of spiffy dance moves, at once enormously loose and dead-on precise.

The O'Jays likewise operated as a very well-oiled dancing machine during Sunday's opening set. The veteran trio also has a pretty big bag o' hits to dip into. It pulled out "Use Ta Be My Girl," "Love Train" and a percolating, passionate rendition of "For the Love of Money," to close the set.

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