Ball Of Confusion (4:07)

Cover of Greatest Hits

From Greatest Hits and 23 other releases

“Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today)” is a 1970 hit single for the Gordy (Motown) label, recorded by The Temptations and produced by Norman Whitfield.

Like “Psychedelic Shack” before it, “Ball of Confusion” delves head-on into psychedelia, this time with a strong political message. The lyrics list a multitude of problems that were tearing the world apart in 1970: the Vietnam War, segregation, white flight, drug abuse, crooked politicians, and more. “Round and around and around we go”, the Temptations sing, “where the world’s headed/nobody knows. ” The end of each section of the Temptations’ lists of woes is punctuated by bass singer Melvin Franklin’s line, “And the band played on.”

“Ball of Confusion’s” lyrics are delivered over an up-tempo instrumental track with two drum tracks (one for each stereo channel), multitracked wah-wah guitars, and an ominous bassline by Funk Brother Bob Babbitt that opens the song. Norman Whitfield’s dramatic count-in, always recorded at the very start of a recording for synching purposes only, was left in the mix for this record.

Despite its strong political themes, the record consciously avoids implying a definitive point-of-view or a defiant stance. This is because the Temptations song “War”, which Norman Whitfield intended as a spring 1970 single release, was not released due to Motown’s concern the song’s forward message could alienate more conservative listeners. Whitfield took “War” and reworked it as a single for Gordy solo artist Edwin Starr (for whom it became a #1 hit), while he and lyricist Barrett Strong wrote the more subtle “Ball of Confusion” for the Temptations.

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  • CidaDuarteF

    ;-) Thanks Pete!

    3 Apr 5:28pm Reply
  • B-AIRLINE

    RAP ON,BROTHER

    30 Jul 2012 Reply
  • goldione

    Oh, they play a later-than-1970 version here, sounds 80s-clean... ;-) ... i like the rougher original version... (o;

    29 Oct 2011 Reply
  • QuiveringGroove

    Pure Funk

    29 Sep 2011 Reply
  • Sash5034

    Still rings true today.

    29 Jun 2011 Reply
  • ank92

    MY ALL TIME FAVORITE MOTOWN ACT JUST LOVE EVERYTHING BY THE TEMPTS

    25 Feb 2011 Reply
  • DZRTsurfer88

    drastic67 ~ ya scored a bullseye w/ your shout! This track is pure Vision Rock ~OhYeah~

    10 Nov 2010 Reply
  • drastic67

    Man the temps must of saw into the future when they made this join right here.

    3 May 2010 Reply
  • nomom

    The more we go on the more we go back...

    15 Apr 2010 Reply
  • OskiRocks

    Vote for me, and I'll set you free....

    17 Jan 2010 Reply
  • B-AIRLINE

    WELL................

    3 Dec 2009 Reply
  • henriette77

    @rockintmb: what you mean were the FUNK BROTHERS, they were THE studio musicians who made thousands of motown-songs. They were the originals. Never topped since!

    18 Nov 2009 Reply
  • rockintmb

    I must say, this version is lacking that rare energy that it originally had, but no matter what this is a great song, and it's good to see they are still going strong....

    1 Sep 2009 Reply
  • joblob60

    Temtations die Urväter des Kreativäten Rocks .. von denen viele heute noch zehren und gezehrt haben..

    4 Aug 2009 Reply
  • Tigerzen

    As true today as when they first sang it in the 70's

    4 Aug 2009 Reply
  • DZRTsurfer88

    i like it

    13 Jul 2009 Reply
  • Dahler

    super

    5 Jun 2009 Reply
  • treeperch

    "...and the band played on..."

    29 Apr 2009 Reply
  • rockintmb

    Still great, but not the same AT ALL! What a kick ass song though! Check out the choir singing this in the movie sister act.... They did pretty good with it....

    12 Apr 2009 Reply
  • SoulFulLove

    A relatively mildly strong version of the original - Need more soulful power-house attempt to equate the masters they copy.

    28 Mar 2009 Reply
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