After his small label was absorbed by the corporate entity of Motown, Edwin Starr became a second-string hitter.
The Temptations, on the other hand, were one of Motown’s most profitable groups.
Although “War,” a blatant protest of the Vietnam War, became Edwin Starr’s biggest hit, it was first recorded by The Temptations on their 1970 album “Psychedelic Shack.”
This album was itself a little risky, business-wise. It was a striking departure from the signature “Motown Sound” that had always sold well to fans across a wide political spectrum.
At the time, record singles were far bigger business than albums, and when fans began to demand a single version of “War,” Motown didn’t want to alienate conservative listeners.
Playing it safe, the label recorded and released the single version with their less-bankable Starr.