Tag Archives: Four Tops

Four for four

This weekend marks the fourth anniversary for AM, Then FM.

Thanks to all who have visited, especially those who have become friends.

So, as we mark four years, here are four from the Four Tops. I don’t dig them as much as I dig the Temptations, but there are a few things I like.

“I’m A Believer” and “Wonderful Baby,” the Four Tops, from “Reach Out,” 1967. (The buy link is to an import two-fer CD which also has “On Top,” a 1966 LP.)

On which they cover what was then the white-hot single by Neil Diamond and the Monkees. An acquired taste perhaps.

“Wonderful Baby,” a deep cut from this smash-filled LP, is a Smokey Robinson tune.

“California Dreamin’,” the Four Tops, from “Soul Spin,” 1969. (The buy link is to another import two-fer CD, this one with “Yesterday’s Dreams,” a 1968 LP.)

This is a nice, laid-back cover of the tune by the Mamas and the Papas, from an LP full of covers. It’s a bit too lushly orchestrated to really be described as having a soul spin, but the vocals certainly are soulful.

“Are You Man Enough?” the Four Tops, from the “Shaft In Africa” soundtrack, 1973. It’s out of print but is available digitally.

Four years ago, one of the first tunes I ever posted was “Theme from Shaft,” by Isaac Hayes. Time for a sequel.

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under February 2011, Sounds

High fives all around

Our friend Larry over at Funky 16 Corners is celebrating five years of F16C with more cool Beatles covers. Head over there and check out two new mixes and four older mixes.

Larry has been a guide, an inspiration and a good friend. We have plenty in common, and not just the music. On my wish list: Road tripping from Wisconsin to New Jersey just to soak in the vibe when Larry and his pals spin 45s at Asbury Park Lanes some night.

Here, then, as a small way of saying thanks, are five more Beatles covers in that same soul/R&B spirit. They’re more mainstream than Larry’s selections, but that just goes to show how deeply the man is digging it. Hope you will enjoy them nonetheless.

bobbiegentrylocalgentrylp

“Eleanor Rigby,” Bobbie Gentry, from “Local Gentry,” 1968. An almost perfect match of sultry singer, downbeat song and low-key arrangement. (Also covered on this LP, and not as well: “Fool on the Hill” and “Here, There and Everywhere.”)

algreenisblueslp

“Get Back,” Al Green, from “Green Is Blues,” 1969. It’s out of print. (Al’s cover of “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” also from 1969, is much in the same sizzling vein.)

mojobeatlemaniavol2cd

“Got To Get You Into My Life,” the Four Tops, from “Soul Spin,” 1969. A song made for the great Levi Stubbs. (This is a CD rip from “Mojo Beatlemania, Volume 2,” included with Mojo magazine in September 2004.)

iketinaworkintogetherlp

“Let It Be,” Ike and Tina Turner, from “Workin’ Together,” 1971. It’s out of print but is available digitally. Listen to how Tina tweaks the lyrics to make this her own, then gives it a bit of a gospel feel. (Also on covered on this LP, and shared earlier by Larry: “Get Back.”)

gladysknightpipslittleknightmusiclp

“Come Together,” Gladys Knight and the Pips, from “A Little Knight Music,” 1975. Recorded while they were at Motown in the early ’70s, maybe 1971 or 1972. Sassier than you’d think.

4 Comments

Filed under November 2009, Sounds

Motown by Motown

Today is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the legendary Motown Records in Detroit.

Today we have the early Motown story, told by those who lived it.

motownstory5lpset

“The Motown Story” came into the house when Janet and I merged our record collections. She bought it in the early ’80s, when the soundtrack to “The Big Chill” revived interest in classic Motown tunes.

What Janet bought so long ago is a five-LP box set that was released in 1970. It’s hanging on for dear life, having survived a memorable party in the early ’80s. The box is battered. The booklet that came with it is long gone. When I opened it last week, three of the LPs had one kind of sleeve, one had another kind of sleeve and one had no sleeve.

“The Motown Story” is essentially an audio documentary, complete with a narrator, sound bites from the performers and near-complete versions of 58 of Motown’s biggest hits from its first decade.

What makes this set so special almost 40 years on is that we get to hear Motown performers tell their stories in their own words. The cuts that follow have spoken intros or outros and, at times, end a little abruptly.

“Detroit, Michigan!
“Motor Town! Motown!
“This is the Motown sound!”

— Charlie Van Dyke, the narrator

“We, uh, really dug the type of things that reflected, uh, the society.”

— Motown Record Corp. founder Berry Gordy, 1970.

“We were just kind of a, like a small company then, you know, most of the employees were musically inclined.”

— “Money,” Barrett Strong, 1960.

“I was trying to find myself and I didn’t quite know where, where I was, or where I wanted to go, and, uh, Smokey Robinson, who is probably, uh, the greatest living poet, kind of pulled me up out of, uh, out of my depression at that time.”

— “I’ll Be Doggone,” Marvin Gaye, 1965.

“The ideas come from experience, so maybe my surrounding has a lot to do with the, the way I would write a song.”

— “Uptight (Everything’s Alright),” Stevie Wonder, 1965.

“I don’t, I don’t consider myself as being a heck of a singer, man. I’m more of a stylist, if you will. … I like to live what I, what I do, and, you know, with the performances, you know, I like to live ’em.” (Levi Stubbs)

— “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” the Four Tops, 1966.

“‘Standing In the Shadows Of Love,’ is, uh, it’s hard for me to describe that tune. At first I couldn’t, I couldn’t get a, get a feeling for it.” (Levi Stubbs)

“‘Bernadette’ is a tune that I didn’t think I could do at all. You know, it really didn’t have a message for me until there was, there was an Italian fella came over, to teach us some Italian lyrics to this particular tune. And through his explaining, uh, you know, about what some of the various words meant, you know, and the significance of them in Italian, it gave me a better outlook on, on the thing. And, uh, through that, I was able to get a little message across.” (Levi Stubbs)

— “Standing In the Shadows Of Love” and “Bernadette,” the Four Tops, 1966 and 1967.

“That, um, that was a good beginning because I had no idea that, uh, Tammi was as good a singer, as, uh, she of course turned out to be.”

— “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, 1967.

“This is when Holland-Dozier-Holland decided to go more mechanical and do weird sounds and things like that, and I believe it came about because of, uh, the Beatles era, which, um, everyone — writers, producers, singers — were influenced by the Beatles, quite a bit, I must say. … ‘Reflections’ is a very weird, weird song.” (Mary Wilson)

— “Reflections,” Diana Ross and the Supremes, 1967.

“The first date we sang, uh, professionally, uh, was at the Y, the YWCA, for a tea. And it, um, came off all right. And from there it seemed like things, we just got, um, um, nice breaks and so forth. And, uh, we didn’t have a name at the time. Everybody’s assignment was to go home and try to come up with a name that would kind of suit the group.” (A delightfully bubbly Gladys Knight)

— “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” Gladys Knight and the Pips, 1967.

“A lot of people thought we were talking about getting high, which we weren’t. We were talking about just a state of being.” (Otis Williams)

— “Cloud Nine,” the Temptations, 1968.

“It’s so much fun working with, uhhh, the boy groups. Because, um, you kind of put them uptight and they put you uptight. In other words, it was like a challenge and everybody was trying to outdo everybody, so you came up with some great material. Especially like on ad libs and endings and stuff like that.” (Diana Ross)

— “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” Diana Ross and the Supremes and the Temptations, 1968.

“I never thought a great deal about ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine,’ uh, after recording it. I had, I had no idea that it was going to sell as many records as it did. In fact, I wasn’t too optimistic about it.”

— “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” Marvin Gaye, 1968.

“We started to recording, and I told him, I said, ‘Man, this ain’t my bag, man,’ … He said, ‘Will you just record the record, Junior?’ and I said, ‘All right, man.'” (Jr. Walker, on a persistent songwriter, likely Johnny Bristol or Harvey Fuqua)

— “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love),” Jr. Walker and the All-Stars, 1969.

“I don’t know what that is on the beginning of, uh, ‘Psychedelic Shack’ because it has that funny yow sound and then it goes into the beat, you know, but, uh, I’ve learned by being in the business and being around that, that, uh, record-buying people, they like things that’s, uh, different and sounds unusual.” (Otis Williams)

— “Psychedelic Shack,” the Temptations, 1970.

motownstory5lpset2

All from “The Motown Story,” 1970.

It’s out of print, but is available in somewhat different form as “The Motown Story, Volume 1: The 1960s.” This 2003 CD release has only 42 cuts, not 58, and doesn’t include the Berry Gordy sound bite, “I’ll Be Doggone,” “Standing In the Shadows Of Love,” “Bernadette” or “Psychedelic Shack.” It also has some cuts not on the 1970 set.

4 Comments

Filed under January 2009, Sounds