The Four Tops
Released: July 1974
Magnificent 3-disk set from the Motown days of one of the top pop/soul groups of the past decade, featuring a complete selecton of hits from their earliest days. As well as the major hits, we find a fine collection of other material interpreted by the Tops, with their distinctive style. As always, the lead vocals and the harmonies match perfectly with the excellent orchestration. A must for collectors and recent fans of this fine group. Best cuts: "Baby I Need Your Loving," "It's The Same Old Song," "Reach Out I'll Be There," "Walk Away Renee," "(It's the Way) Nature Planned It."
- Billboard, 1974.
Until they get the deluxe box set CD treatment, this three-record/two-CD set qualifies as the ultimate Four Tops Motown statement. It includes all the landmark hits, plus good numbers from their final days at Motown in the 1970s (they did return in the mid-'80s), such as "Still Water" and "Just Seven Numbers. * * * * *
- Ron Wynn, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
The double-length Anthology spans the Top's hits on Motown and other labels, showcasing the group's awesome run of hits. * * * * *
- Roger Catlin, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
- Zagat Survey Music Guide - 1,000 Top Albums of All Time, 2003.
According to one axiom of the middle 1960s, if you listened to the radio long enough, sooner or later a Four Tops song would come on. Since the dawn of satellite radio in 2001, that wait time has been significantly reduced. On an average summer Saturday in 2005, the great pleading Tops single "Bernadette" appeared at least three times within six hours on Sirius -- in the music mix of a classic soul channel, an interview with rocker Graham Parker on an alt-rock station, and during Kid Leo's show on the Underground Garage.
That says plenty about the Tops, the most exuberant of Motown hit-makers. The Detroit quartet -- which retained the same personnel for four decades -- made drop-dead incredible singles, and totally underwhelming filler-filled albums. The rousing and galvanic "Same Old Song," "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)," and "Bernadette" can't be labeled "soul" or "pop" or "rock" -- they're an amalgamation of all that and more, set to hot-rodding four-on-the-floor rhythm. Key to the enterprise is singer Levi Stubbs, whose urgent declarations have inspired critical rhapsodies, and at least one great song of homage, Billy Bragg's "Levi Stubbs' Tears."
Recalling the Four Tops' heyday, songwriter Brian Holland -- part of the Holland/Dozier/Holland team responsible for many Four Tops hits -- said that after "I Can't Help Myself" was finished in 1965, he and a girlfriend listened to a test pressing of the song "three to four hundred times" in the course of a weekend. That's one amazing thing about the Tops: You can hear the same old song over and over again, and never get tired of it.
- Tom Moon, 1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die, 2008.
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