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Published on May 11, 2013
As the lead singer of the Temptations, Ruffin was one of the most urbane and charismatic singers around. His work as a solo act was spotty at best. Writers and producers at Motown had Ruffin screaming at the top of his lungs over everything from run over dogs to Dear John letters. A 1970 set with his brother Jimmy Ruffin and a trio of albums with producer Van McCoy in the late 70's were the only respite from a steep artistic decline. Ruffin left Motown in 1977. This 1980 album presents him as more of a love man and is the follow up to 1979's Soon We Change, also produced by Don Davis. The most striking thing about this effort is Ruffin's voice. Unlike other singers of the raspy/loud type, his voice actually improved and he didn't have to resort to howls to make up for a lost midrange. Producer Don Davis plugged Ruffin into a polished, contemporary R&B setting that featured, among others, Leon Ware and Ronnie McNeir on backing vocals. "I Got a Thing for You has Ruffin coming on smooth and confident as he sings, "Felt the feeling, without a touch." He even has to laugh. The dramatic "Can We Make Love One More Time" shows Ruffin didn't lose his cool while begging. Even the borderline unctuous "Don't You Go Home works even though his "love call" should have made his object of desire head for the exits. Gentleman Ruffin is Ruffin's last album as a solo act. Although there are a few weak spots, no comprehensive Rufiin collection should be without it