Saturday, 31 January 2009

Reach Out (I'll Be There) - Music of the Four Tops

This picture of The Four Tops courtesy of


As I write this blog post, I'm listening to songs by the group that this post is all about, The Four Tops.  I know that I'm three months late in saying it, but I was very shocked one weekend when I heard that Levi Stubbs, founder and lead vocalist of The Four Tops died in his sleep on October 17, 2008.  I'm sure all fans of The Four Tops were shocked and sad when they heard the news.  The Four Tops, with Levi Stubbs as lead vocalist, had many great hits for Motown back in the 60's, which include the hits "Bernadette", "Standing In The Shadows Of Love", "Ask The Lonely" and so on.


My favourite songs by The Four Tops have to be "Baby I Need Your Loving", "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)", "It's The Same Old Song" and "Reach Out (I'll Be There)", but they have so many other great songs.  I've yet to own a Greatest Hits or Best Of compilation, but I will get there eventually.  I've got some of their songs scattered over different CDs, some Motown CDs and some Classic Hits Radio CDs made here in Australia.  For years I have wondered who sang "Baby I Need Your Loving" because for as long as I can remember, I've been listening to a radio station here in Brisbane called 4KQ (I mentioned them in my last post about Elton John), then I eventually found out it was The Four Tops.  I eventually found out they done a lot of other songs I really like (see my list of favourite songs)!


I was surprised when I read on a Wikipedia page that Levi Stubbs actually had a baritone voice and that Holland-Dozier-Holland, Motown's songwriting team, wrote The Four Tops' songs so that Levi had to sing in a tenor voice instead of baritone because they wanted him to sound like there is a sense of urgency in the songs.  I thought that was a pretty good idea because that's how we've come to know so many great songs by this great group, and the sad thing is that there is apparently only one surviving member left from the original Four Tops lineup, but I forgot what his name is.  Another great song I really like is the Four Tops and the Supremes duet of "River Deep Mountain High", it is so much different to Ike & Tina Turner's and Celine Dion's versions!


In my opinion, The Four Tops' songs are emotionally driven with great music and melodies, fantastic lyrics and amazing vocals and harmonies.  In fact, one of Australia's famous groups, Human Nature, has made 3 albums full of Motown classics, including some of The Four Tops' great music and I do feel they do these songs justice, they are just as good as the originals!  Actually, I've actually been to a Human Nature concert where they have done the whole concert of Motown songs (well...actually, Human Nature did sing some of their own songs, but only acoustically and short versions), which was fantastic, they even got the audience to participate as well, which I thought was great!  I've actually got plans to buy Human Nature's box set containing their 3 Motown covers album and a live concert DVD of the Motown songs in concert!  The box set is called The Motor City Collection!  All I can say here is well done to Human Nature for doing such a great job at covering all those fantastic Motown artists and their songs!


It's a shame that many of the members of the Four Tops are no longer with us, but as long as we keep introducing their music to younger generations to come, I don't think their music will ever be forgotten!  Hopefully the music of the 60's, 70's and 80's will be remembered for many years and decades to come, from generation to generation, it's a nice thought to think of!

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