Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)
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|"Ball of Confusion |
(That's What the World is Today)"
|Single by The Temptations|
|from the album Greatest Hits II|
|Released||May 7, 1970|
|Recorded||April 12 and 14, 1970|
|Studio||Hitsville USA (Studio A)|
|Songwriter(s)||Norman Whitfield |
|The Temptations singles chronology|
|UK single cover|
|"Ball of Confusion"|
|Single by Tina Turner|
|from the album B.E.F.: Music of Quality and Distinction Volume One|
|Songwriter(s)||Norman Whitfield |
|Tina Turner singles chronology|
The song was used to anchor the 1970 Greatest Hits II LP. It reached #3 on the US pop charts and #2 on the US R&B charts. Billboard ranked the record as the #24 song of 1970. It reached #7 in the UK Singles Chart.
Although a nearly eleven minute long backing track was recorded by The Funk Brothers, only slightly more than four minutes was used for the Temptations' version of the song. The full backing track can be heard on the 1971 LP The Undisputed Truth.
- Lead vocals by Dennis Edwards, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, and Melvin Franklin
- Background vocals by Dennis Edwards, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, and Otis Williams
- Written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong
- Produced by Norman Whitfield
- Instrumentation by The Funk Brothers
In popular culture
Randy Shilts quoted the lyrics from "Ball of Confusion" when he named his award-winning journalistic account of the AIDS epidemic, And the Band Played On. In the song, the repeated usage of the phrase "and the band played on" signaled that no one was paying proper attention to world problems, in the same manner the AIDS epidemic was initially ignored. 
The Temptations’ version is seen in the 2018 film Blackkklansman.
Tina Turner version
The song "Ball of Confusion" plays an important part in the career of Tina Turner - if only indirectly. Her recording of the track was included on 1982 album Music of Quality and Distinction Volume One, a tribute by the British Electric Foundation featuring members of the new wave band Heaven 17, Love and Rockets and a number of guest vocalists covering 1960s and 1970s hits, among them Sandie Shaw, Paul Jones, Billy Mackenzie, Paula Yates and Gary Glitter.
Turner's synth-driven interpretation of "Ball of Confusion" opened the album, was also issued as a single, and became a Top 5 hit in Norway; this led to Capitol Records signing Turner and to Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh recording another 1970s cover with her in late 1983. The track was Al Green's "Let's Stay Together", which became a surprise hit single on both sides of the Atlantic and the starting point of Turner's comeback, with the following 1984 album Private Dancer going multi-platinum in 1984.
Versions and mixes
- Album Version/7" Mix - 3:20
- 7" Instrumental - 3:20
- 1991 B.E.F. Remix - 4:11
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 571.
- Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1970
- "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)". Official Charts. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
- "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today) (lyrics by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong)". Genius.com. 2 April 2017.
- Engel, Margaret. "AIDS and Prejudice: One Reporter's Account of the Nation's Response." The Washington Post, December 1, 1987, p. Z10.
- "Song chart entries of Tina Turner". tsort.info. Retrieved 4 February 2012.
- List of cover versions of "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)" at SecondHandSongs.com