Tuesday, 26 June 2018

The Four Tops


The Four Tops

Levi Stubbs  (June 6, 1936 - October 17, 2008)
Renaldo "Obie" Benson  (June 14, 1936 - July 01, 2005)
Abdul "Duke" Fakir  (December 26, 1935)
Lawrence Payton  (March 02, 1938 - June 20, 1997)

Of all the legends of the Motown era, the Four Tops are the only ones not to have been discovered and shaped by Berry Gordy. Unlike the Temptations that Gordy took away from the gospel to get them into the Pop universe, The Four Tops had already flirted with jazz and variety, which helped to give their production Motown a natural sophistication that the Detroit company put to good use to boost its crossover policy.

As such, the recordings of the Four Tops made in collaboration with the Holland-Dozier-Holland trio touch the very essence of the Motown sound, with James Jamerson's imaginative bass figures and Benny Benjamin's thunderous drums, the confrontation between the sections of brass and strings and the declamatory voice of Levi Stubbs, carried by the harmonies of his brothers in arms.

The Four Tops

One of the keys to the group's enduring success is the agreement that has never ceased to reign between them, a vocal and human harmony that has never been questioned, which originated in 1954 when they united their voices for the first time. times on the occasion of a birthday. What started out as a hobby is quickly becoming a profession as proposals for commitments grow in Detroit's clubs. Highly influenced by the Mills Brothers and the Ink Spots, those who call themselves the Four Aims favor harmonies, jazzy arrangements and a repertoire consisting of standars of the American variety.

Their first recording,  I Wish You Would , made for Chess at the invitation of Lawrence Payton's cousin, Roquel "Billy" Davis, sees the Four Aims become the Four Tops to avoid confusion with the Ames Brothers - a set of Pop star of the time.

The Four Aims - I Wish You Would

Until the beginning of the next decade, the Tops roamed the cabaret chic circuit, from New York to Las Vegas, sometimes in the first part of established stars like Della Reese, Brook Benton, Count Basie and Billy Eckstine.
Success is harder to tame in the studio, John Hammond at Columbia and Orrin Keepnews at Riverside failing to translate the spectacular side of their performances into vinyl. In 1963, Berry Gordy thinks of succeeding where his predecessors have failed and the Four Tops make their Motown debut under the brand Jazz Workshop. The formula seems to fizzle and the Tops find themselves relegated to the role of chorister behind groups like the Supremes until the day when Gordy decides to integrate them into his soul team by entrusting them to his reference songwriters, Lamont Dozier , Brian and Eddie Holland. From the summer of 1964, with the entry to the eleventh place of the Hot 100 of  Baby I Need Your Loving, the Four Tops become an essential pillar of the Motown sound.

Baby I Need Your Loving

Until the beginning in the tears and confusion of Holland-Dozier-Holland in 1967, bestsellers follow one another. With the exception of  Ask The Lonely  in the spring of 1965 and  Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever  (a composition of Stevie Wonder) the following year, HDH are responsible for the rain of hits that follow each other on the charts under the name of Four Tops. 

Ask The Lonely

Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever

In total, nine titles that simultaneously access the Top 10 Black and Top 20 Pop: 
I Can not Help Myself  (Double Number One R & B and Pop),  It's The Shame Old Songs and  Something About You  in 1965. As well as  Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)  and  Reach Out I'll Be There  (second doubled Number One R & B and Pop) in 1966.

I Can not Help Myself

It's The Shame Old Songs

Something About You

Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)

Reach Out I'll Be There

Standing in The Shadows Of Love, Bernadette, 7 Rooms Of Gloom  and  You Keep Running Away  in 1967, the year of consecration for Stubbs and his family. At the same time, the Tops stand out as excellent sellers of albums with collections systematically installed in the bestsellers, while giving dozens of concerts each year across America, but also in England where their first fans are the Beatles.

Standing In The Shadows Of Love


7 Rooms Of Gloom

You Keep Runnig Away

By comparison, the end of the decade is less brilliant, even if any other artist would have been satisfied with the list of Tops, which garnered five other hits in two years, including  Walk Away Renee  and  If I Were Carpenter , taken over. a success of Bobby Darin.

Walk Away Renee

If I Were Carpenter

The wheel turns in their favor from 1970 while the connivance that develops with other producers like Franck Wilson and Ashford & Simpson produces a new magic series:  It's All In The Game, Still water (Love), Just Seven Numbers (Can Straighten Out My Life), Nature Planned It ...
Meanwhile, a successful collaboration with the Supremes provides material for three albums ( The Magnificent 7, The Return Of The Magnificient Seven  and  Dynamite ) and a memorable single,  River Deep - Mountain High .

It's All In The Game

Still Water (Love)

Just Seven Numbers (Can Straighten Out My Life)

(It's the way) Nature Planned It

Deep River - Mountain High (& The Supremes)

When Berry Gordy decided to set up his recording empire in Los Angeles in 1972 against the advice of many of his collaborators, the breakup was consummated with the Four Tops who remained loyal to Detroit and passed under the tutelage of Dunhill / ABC. The continuity of their success is the sign of a professionalism that plays with all the obstacles, the bestsellers continuing to be linked at the end of the year with  Keeper Of The Castle  and the album of the same title whose The most promising single,  Is not No Woman,  becomes a gold record with a million copies sold. 

Keeper Of The Castle

Is not No Woman?

Main Street People , the collection that opens the next season, contains two new bestsellers,  Sweet Understanding Love  and especially  Are You Man Enough , a title associated with the African-American thriller  Shaft in Africa .

Sweet Understanding Love

Are You Man Enough

Other successes follow ( One Chain Do not Make No Prison  and  Midnight Flower  in 1974,  Seven Lonely Nights  in 1975,  Catfish  in 1976), but the irruption of the disco is detrimental to the Four Tops whose discographic activity stops in 1978 with their latest ABC album, At The Top .

One Chain Do not Make No Prison

Midnight Flower

Seven Lonely Nights


Since the beginning, the stage has always been the main activity of a group known for the perfection of shows with millimeter-scale choreography, which prevents the Tops from experiencing a long crossing of the desert, especially as their studio career is starting again. trombe in 1981 with the Casablanca label and the third Number One Soul,  When She Was My Girl , from the album  Tonight!

When She Was My Girl

The time of a second collection at Casablanca ( One More Mountain ) and the group found Motown in 1983 for the 25th anniversary of the company, waiting to leave five years later at Arista where they garner their latest hits:  Indestructible, If Ever A Love There Was  (with Kenny G and Aretha Franklin) and  Loco In Acapulco , the song by Lamont Dozier and Phil Collins from the movie Buster.


If Ever A Love There Was (with Kenny G and Aretha Franklin)

Loco In Acapulco

Having nothing to prove in the studio, the Four Tops continue their tours tirelessly, until the death of Lawrence Payton in 1997 puts an end to the exceptional balance which reigned for more than forty years between these four friends childhood. Introduced into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, they have had all the honors in their careers, yet never receive a Grammy Award, a "privilege" they share with others like the Jacksons 5 and Rolling Stones.

source: Encyclopedia of Rhythm & Blues and Soul (Editions Fayard - 2002)

The Four Tops


1964 / Four Tops

The Four Tops - 1964 / Four Tops

A1. Baby I Need Your Loving
A2. Without You One Love (Life's Not Worthwile)
A3. Where Did You Go
A4. Ask The Lonely
AT 5. Your Love Is Amazing
A6. Sad Memories
B1. Do not Turn Away
B2. Tea House In China Town
B3. Left With A Broken Heart
B4. Love Has Gone
B5. Call On Me

1965 / Second Album

The Four Tops - 1965 / Second Album

A1. Can not Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)
A2. Love Feels Like Fire
A3. Is There Anything That I Can Do
A4. Something About You
AT 5. It's The Same Old Song
A6. Helpless
B1. Just As Long As You Need Me
B2. Darling, I Hum Our Song
B3. I Like Everything About You
B4. Since You've Been Gone
B5. Stay In My Lonely Arms
B6. I'm Grateful

1966 / Four Tops Live!

The Four Tops - 1966 / Four Tops Live!

A1. Introduction
A2. It's The Same Old Song
A3. It's Not Unusual
A4. Baby I Need Your Loving
AT 5. Reach Out I'll Be There
A6. I'll turn to stone
A7. I Left My Heart In San Francisco
AT 8. You Can not Hurry Love
B1. Ask The Lonely
B2. Climb Ev'ry Mountain
B3. The Girl From Ipanema
B4. If I Had A Hammer
B5. I Can not Help Myself
B6. I Like Everything About You

1966 / Four Tops On Top

the Four Tops - 1966 / Four Tops On Top

A1. I Got A Feeling
A2. Brenda
A3. Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever
A4. Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)
AT 5. Until You Love Someone
A6. There's No Love Left
B1. Matchmaker
B2. Michelle
B3. In The Still Of The Night
B4. Bluesette
B5. Quiet Night Of Quiet Stars
B6. Then

1967 / Reach Out

The Four Tops - 1967 / Reach Out

A1. Reach Out, I'll Be There
A2. Walk Away Renee
A3. 7 Rooms Of Gloom
A4. If I Were A Carpenter
AT 5. Last Train To Clarksville
A6. I'll turn to stone
B1. I'm Believer
B2. Standing In The Shadows Of Love
B3. Bernadette
B4. Cherish
B5. Wonderful Baby
B6. What Else Is There To Do?

1967 / On Broadway

The Four Tops - 1967 / On Broadway

A1. Hello Broadway
A2. Maria
A3. Climb Ev'ry Mountain
A4. Mame
AT 5. I Want To Be With You
A6. On The Streets Where You Live
B1. The Sound Of Music
B2. What Did I Have That Do not Have
B3. For Once In My Life
B4. My Way
B5. Make Someone Happy
B6. Nice N 'Easy

1968 / Yesterday's Dreams

The Four Tops - 1968 / Yesterday's Dreams

A1. Yesterday's Dreams
A2. Can not Seem To Get You Out Of My Mind
A3. I'm In A Different World
A4. We've Got A Strong Love (On Our Side)
AT 5. By The Time I Get To Phoenix
A6. Remember When
B1. Sunny
B2. Never My Love
B3. Daydream Believer
B4. Once Upon A Time
B5. The Sweetheart Tree
B6. A Place In The Sun

1969 / Soul Spin

The Four Tops - 1969 / Soul Spin

A1. Look Out Your Window
A2. Barbara's Boy
A3. Lost In A Pool Of Red
A4. Got To Get You Into My Life
AT 5. Stop The World
A6. nothing
B1. This Guy's In Love With You
B2. Light My Fire
B3. Honey
B4. The Look Of Love
B5. California Dreamin '

1969 / Four Tops Now!

The Four Tops - 1969 / Four Tops Now!

A1. The Key
A2. What Is A Man
A3. My Past Just Crossed My Future
A4. Do not Let Him Take Your Love From Me
AT 5. Eleanor Rigby
A6. Little Green Apples
B1. Do What You Gotta Do
B2. Macarthur Park
B3. Do not Bring Back Memories
B4. Wish I Did not Love You So
B5. Opportunity Knock (For Me)
B6. The Fool On The Hill

1970 / Still Water Run Deep

The Four Tops - 1970s Still Water Run Deep

A1. Still Water (Love)
A2. Reflections
A3. It's All In The Game
A4. Everybody's Talking
AT 5. Love Is The Answer
B1. I Wish I Were Your Mirror
B2. Elusive Butterfly
B3. Bring Me Together
B4. LA (My Town)
B5. Still Water (Peace)

1970 / The Magnificent 7 (& The Supremes)

The Four Tops - 1970 / The Magnificent 7 (& The Supremes)

A1. Knock O My Door
A2. For Your Love
A3. Without The One You Love
A4. Reach Out And Touch (Somebody's Hand)
AT 5. Stoned Soul Picnic
A6. Baby, (You've Got What It Takes)
B1. River Deep-Mountain High
B2. Is not Nothing Like The Real Thing
B3. Everyday People
B4. It's Got To Be A Miracle (This Thing Called Love)
B5. A Taste Of Honey
B6. Together We Can Make Such Sweet Music

1970 / Changing Time

The Four Tops - 1970 / Changing Time

A1. In These Changing Times
A2. Just Seven Numbers (Can Straighten Out My Life)
A3. Raindrops Keep Fallin 'On My Head
A4. Right Before My Eyes
AT 5. I Almost Had Her (But She Got Away)
B1. Try To Remember
B2. Something's Tearing At The Edges Of Time
B3. Sing A Song Of Yesterday
B4. The Long And Winding Road / In These Changing Times

1971 / Dynamite (& The Supremes)

The Four Tops - 1971 / Dynamite (& The Supremes)

A1. It's Impossible
A2. The Bigger You Love
A3. Hello Stranger
A4. Love The One You're With
AT 5. Good Lovin 'Is not Easy To Come By
B1. Melody
B2. If
B3. If I Could Build My Whole World Around You
B4. Do not Let Me Lose This Dream
B5. Do You Love Me Just A Little: Honey

1971 / The Return Of The Magnificent Seven (& The Supremes)

The Four Tops - 1971 / The Return Of The Magnificent Seven (& The Supremes)

A1. You Gotta Have Love In Your Heart
A2. I Wonder Where We're Going
A3. call me
A4. One More Bridge To Cross
AT 5. If You Could See Me Now
A6. I'll Try Not To Cry
B1. I'm Glad About It
B2. Let's Make Love Now
B3. I Can not Believe You Love Me
B4. Where Would I Be Without You, Baby
B5. What Do You Have To Do (To Stay On The Right Side Of Love)

1972 / Nature Planned It

The Four Tops - 1972 / Nature Planned It

A1. I Am Your Man
A2. (It's The Way) Nature Planned It
A3. I'll never change
A4. She's An Understanding Woman
AT 5. I Can not Quit Your Love
A6. With Me, Talk With Me, Darling
B1. Medley: Hey Man / We Got To Get You A Woman
B2. You Got To Forget Him Darling
B3. If you let me
B4. Happy (Is A Bumpy Road)
B5. How Will I Forget You

1972 / Keeper Of The Castle

The Four Tops - 1972 / Keeper Of The Castle

A1. Keeper Of The Castle
A2. Is not No Woman?
A3. Put A Little Love Away
A4. Turn On The Light Of Your Love
AT 5. When Tonight Meets Tomorrow
A6. Love Music
B1. Remember What I Told You To Forget
B2. (I think I must be) Dreaming
B3. The Good Lord Knows
B4. Jubilee With Soul
B5. Love Makes You Human
B6. Keeper Of The Castle (Resume)

1973 / Main Street People

The Four Tops - 1973 / Main Street People

A1. Main Street People (Intro)
A2. I Can not Get You Out Of My Mind
A3. It Will not Be The First Time
A4. Sweet Understanding Love
AT 5. My Brother's Keeper
A6. Are You Man Enough
B1. Whenever There's Blue
B2. Too Little, Too Late
B3. Peace Of Mind
B4. One Woman Man
B5. Main Street People

1974 / Live & In Concert

The Four Tops - 1974 / Live & In Concert

A1. Intro & Countdown
A2. Are You Man Enough (From The MGM Movie "Shaft In Africa")
A3. Love Is not Easy To Come By
A4. Medley: Love Music / Reach Out I'll Be There / Standing In The Shadows Of Love
AT 5. Midnight Flower
A6. Baby I Need Your Lovin '
B1. Keeper Of The Castle
B2. I Am Your Man
B3. Is not No Woman?
B4. One Chain Do not Make No Prison
B5. Can not Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Sugar Honey)

1974 / Meeting Of The Minds

The Four Tops - 1974 / Meeting Of The Minds

A1. One Chain Do not Make No Prison
A2. Midnight Flower
A3. The Well Is Dry
A4. Love Is not Easy To Come By
AT 5. No Sad Songs
B1. Right On Brother
B2. Tell Me Love Me (Love Sounds)
B3. All My Love
B4. I Found The Spirit
B5. Meeting Of The Minds

1975 / Night Lights Harmony

The Four Tops - 1975 / Night Lights Harmony

A1. Seven Lonely Nights
A2. Mama You're All Right With Me
A3. Is This The Price?
A4. We All Gotta Stick Together
AT 5. I've Got What You Need
B1. I Can not Hold On Much Longer
B2. (It Would Almost) Drive Me Out Of My Mind
B3. I'm Happy You Walked Into My Life (Dedicated To Stevie)
B4. Let Me Know The Truth

1976 / Catfish

The Four Tops - 1976 / Catfish

A1. Catfish
A2. Feel Free
A3. You Can not Hold Back On Love
A4. I know you like it
B1. Strung Out For Your Love
B2. Love Do not Come Easy
B3. Disco Daddy
B4. Look At My Baby

1977 / The Show Must Go On

The Four Tops - 1977 / The Show Must Go On

A1. The Show Must Go On
A2. I can not live without you
A3. Save It For Rainy Day
A4. Runnin 'From Your Love
B1. See The Real Me
B2. Love Is A Joy
B3. You'll Never Find A Better Man
B4. Candy

1978 / At The Top

The Four Tops - 1978 / At The Top

A2. Bits And Pieces
A3. Seclusion
A4. Put It On The News
B1. This House
B2. Just In Time
B3. Inside A Brokenhearted Man
B4. When Your Dreams Take Wings And Fly

1981 / Tonight!

The Four Tops - 1981 / Tonight!

A1. When She Was A Girl
A2. Do not Walk Away
A3. Tonight I'm Gonna Love You All Over
A4. Who's Right Who's Wrong
B1. Let Me Set You Free
B2. From A Distance
B3. Something To Remember
B4. All I Do
B5. I'll never leave you again

1982 / One More Mountain

The Four Tops - 1982 / One More Mountain

A1. Sad Hearts
A2. One More Mountain To Climb
A3. Givin 'It Up
A4. I Believe In You And Me
B1. I'm The One
B2. Keep On Lightin 'My Fire
B3. Nobody's Gonna Love You Like I Do
B4. Dream On
B5. Whatever It Is

1983 / Back Where I Belong

The Four Tops - 1983 / Back Where I Belong

A1. Make Yourself Right At Home
A2. I just can not walk away
A3. Sail On
A4. Back Where I Belong
B1. What Have We Got To Lose (feat. Aretha Franklin)
B2. The Masquerade Is Over
B3. Body & amp; Drunk
B4. Hang (The Temptations)

1985 / Magic

The Four Tops - 1985 / Magic

A1. I Can Feel The Magic
A2. Do not Tell Me That It`s Over
A3. Sexy Ways
A4. Easier Said Than Done
B1. Do not Turn Away
B2. I'm ready for love
B3. Again
B4. Maybe Tomorrow
B5. Remember Me

1988 / Indestructible

The Four Tops - 1988 / Indestructible

A1. Indestructible
A2. Change Of Heart
A3. If Ever A Love There Was (feat. Aretha Franklin & Kenny G.)
A4. The Sun is not Gonna Shine
AT 5. Next Time
B1. Loco In Acapulco
B2. Are you with me
B3. I'm only wounded
B4. When You Dance
B5. Let's Jam

1995 / Christmas Here With You

The Four Tops - 1995 / Christmas Here With You

01. Christmas Here With You
02. White Christmas
03. The Christmas Song
04. Away In A Dining
05. This Christmas
06. Silent Night (feat Aretha Franklin)
07. Little Drummer Boy
08. Christmas Delight
09. Merry Christmas Baby
10. Merry Christmas To You
11. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
12. 'Twas The Night Before Christmas

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