The Temptations were the only recording act from Motown to have two number one albums on the charts in 1972 and this was the height of Norman Whitfield’s prolific production run with the group during the most successful period of their career. The group followed their success once again with another blockbuster album entitled “Masterpiece,” their last Detroit-produced album with The Funk Brothers and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra strings section led by Gordon Staples. Both the album and self-titled single became gold-certified recordings according to the RIAA. The album “Masterpiece” topped the Billboard Soul and R&B Albums Chart week-ending 28th April 1973 (2 weeks) and the single reached number one on the Billboard Best Selling Soul Singles Chart, week-ending 14th April 1973 (2 weeks).
The increasing musical sophistication of the Motown writers and musicians, supported by the extraordinary arrangements developed by Paul Riser and the creative innovation of Norman Whitfield, made the entire album a classic musical expression and indeed a masterpiece. The musicians on the project were Robert Ward, Joe Messina, Melvin “Wah Wah Watson, Robert White, Robert Ward and Eddie Willis sharing guitar duties. On keyboards for the majority of the recording were band leader Earl Van Dyke and Johnny Griffith; on bass were Bob Babbitt, Eddie Watkins and Leroy Taylor; Richard “Pistol” Allen, Andrew Smith , Aaron Smith and Uriel Jones all featured on drums. The percussion section was made up of Eddie “Bongo” Brown, Jack Ashford, and Jack Brokensha. The “Masterpiece” album has many tracks that are lengthy and heavily instrumental, with the title track running for over fourteen minutes. It was a minute into the track before the group started to sing, which was quite revolutionary based on Motown Records’ normal approach. This project became the last major hit album to be recorded in the “Snake Pit” of Studio A using the Detroit Symphony Orchestra strings section conducted by concert master Gordon Staples.