Archive for Levi Stubbs

Motown Turns 50 – “Reach Out,” the Four Tops

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 24, 2009 by 30daysout


If you want a snapshot of why it might be a bad idea to focus on Motown’s albums, consider Reach Out, the Four Tops’ album from 1967.  Like other albums of the era, a few monster hits share space with questionable cover versions and outright filler.  But Reach Out is much more.

The incredible Holland-Dozier-Holland material on this album includes some of the best Motown stuff from the 1960s: “Reach Out, I’ll Be There,” “Standing In The Shadows Of Love,” “7 Rooms Of Gloom” and “Bernadette.”  Nobody, not even Phil Spector,reach-out-front-cover could match the ambition of these productions. 

The filler – if you want to call it that – consists of cover version of hits by white boys … but in many cases the Four Tops versions top the originals.  In fact, “Walk Away Renee” and “If I Were A Carpenter” were also hits.  And the Tops blow away the Association on “Cherish,” admittedly not a difficult task.  The Holland-Dozier-Holland team, which also produced most of this album, would leave Motown in 1967 after a money dispute with Berry Gordy.

Of course, the Tops wouldn’t be so great if not for the incredible vocals of Levi Stubbs (who died last year).  I couldn’t imagine anyone else singing “Reach Out” or “Standing In The Shadows …” with more electric soul.  And with the Funk Brothers providing a wicked backbeat, not much on this album can be realistically termed “filler.”  Reach Out is a classic snapshot of Motown in the late 1960s.

MP3: “Reach Out, I’ll Be There”

MP3: “Standing In The Shadows Of Love”

MP3: “Walk Away, Renee”

MP3: “If I Were A Carpenter”

MP3: “7 Rooms Of Gloom”

Motown 50th anniversary official website

Soul Of The Departed

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2008 by 30daysout

We are still trying to right our barbaric ways.  Sunday (Nov. 2) is the celebration of All Souls’ Day, remembering those souls who may be on the way to heaven, but for some reason they haven’t arrived yet.  Yesterday we name checked the Saints, those beatific types who are already upstairs partying with the Man; All Souls Day is for those who haven’t gotten there yet because of a minor infraction and they’re still serving their time.  The Catholic church says they haven’t yet achieved the “Beatific Vision.”

So today, let’s flip our catechism to those dearly departed who achieved their “Beatific Vision” while they were on earth – yes, I’m talkin’ about Soul singers!  “Do you like good music?” (Let’s hear an “Amen!”) “Ha! That sweet soul music!” This is dedicated to those soul singers who are no longer with us.  Don’t they all look great, ya’ll?

MP3: “Please, Please, Please” by James Brown, R.I.P.

MP3: “Can’t Stop A Man In Love” by Wilson Pickett, R.I.P.

MP3: “Hands Off My Baby” by Mary Wells, R.I.P.

MP3: “Never Can Say Goodbye” by Isaac Hayes, R.I.P.

MP3: “Reach Out, I’ll Be There” by the Four Tops (Levi Stubbs, R.I.P.)

MP3: “What A Woman Really Means” by Donny Hathaway, R.I.P.

MP3: “I Love You More Than Words Can Say” by Otis Redding, R.I.P.

MP3: “Breakfast In Bed” by Dusty Springfield, R.I.P.

MP3: “Drown In My Own Tears” by Ray Charles, R.I.P.

MP3: “Ain’t That Peculiar” by Marvin Gaye, R.I.P.

MP3: “Strokin'” by Clarence Carter, R.I.P.

MP3: “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)” by the Temptations (Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams and David Ruffin, R.I.P.)

MP3: “We’re A Winner” by the Impressions (Curtis Mayfield, R.I.P.)

MP3: “Chain Gang” (live) by Sam Cooke, R.I.P.

MP3: “Sweet Soul Music”  by Arthur Conley, R.I.P.