The Four Tops – (ABC Years)
The Four Tops – 1972 – Keepers Of The Castle
This is another excellent contribution from my dear friend Trakbuv who has a deep Knowledge of Soul and Funk and loves the Four Tops :
“Hi Folks – Here are 2 of my favourite Four Tops LPs from my favourite period of theirs at ABC Records. After leaving the security of the fame they enjoyed at Motown, they elected for an untested tenancy with Dunhill Records, a label more synonymous with pop, folk and country-based material. Fortunately, Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter were able to woo the mighty Four with their demos, and the rest was, for me, a marriage made in vinyl heaven.
A1 Keeper Of The Castle (3:00)
A2 Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I’ve Got) (3:04)
A3 Put A Little Love Away (3:03)
A4 Turn On The Light Of Your Love (3:36)
A5 When Tonight Meets Tomorrow (3:41)
A6 Love Music (3:35)
B1 Remember What I Told You To Forget (3:50)
B2 (I Think I Must Be) Dreaming (2:55)
B3 The Good Lord Knows (4:04)
B4 Jubilee With Soul (3:20)
B5 Love Makes You Human (4:42)
B6 Keeper Of The Castle (Reprise) (1:25)
‘Keeper’ was the first result of this union, a glorious 12 tracker loaded with hooks, charm and assured production and was met with critical acclaim and due success (reaching 33 in the US Pop Charts). Both the title track and ‘Ain’t no woman’ went gold (attaining no. 10 and 4 spots, respectively, in the US Pop Charts), whereupon Levi and the gang must have released a huge sigh of relief that there definitely was life after Gordy.
There is a effervescence in Levi’s voice that fits so effortlessly into the tuneful material. Also, Lawrence Payton’s vocals enjoys some sympathetic arrangements, most notably with the awesome ‘Love makes you human’, a massively ignored track.
The Four Tops – 1974 – Meeting Of The Minds
This was followed up the equally devastating ‘Main Street People’ LP in 1973, before what I consider to be their pinnacle, the ‘Meeting Of The Minds’ long player.
The songs are among Lambert and Potter’s finest moments, ‘ with the righteous delivery of ‘One Chain’, ‘Right on Brother’, and the exceptional title track all cracking with fire in the message. Add to that some breezy pop-orientated soul in ‘Midnight Flower’, ‘Love ain’t easy’ and ‘All my love’, a nod to Motown in ‘The Well Is Dry’, and arguably Lawrence’s finest moment, ‘Tell Me You Love Me’. He co-wrote the track featuring a sexy groove that Leon Ware would envy (with female vocals by Sylvia Smith, by the way).
A1 One Chain Don’t Make No Prison 4.03
A2 Midnight Flower 4.06
A3 The Well Is Dry 3.43
A4 Love Ain’t Easy To Come By 3.33
A5 No Sad Songs 5.11
B1 Right On Brother 4.04
B2 Tell Me You Love Me 3.27
B3 All My Love 4.26
B4 I Found The Spirit 3.53
B5 Meeting Of The Minds 4.19
Maybe this chapter in the Four Tops story could be seen to convey an absence of soul, be too pop-orientated, and be lacking in gutsy ballads. Apparently, the Tops themselves have distanced themselves from this period. I think I love these 2 LP’s because there is so much unbridled joy in the over-worn grooves.
For me, Levi Stubbs had a voice that can crackle on the verge of tears or laughter with equal ease. This timbre is then carried over to the listener with a wave of emotion that cannot be ignored or denied. My heart is simply at his mercy. The purest of gifts from one of the purest of geniuses.
Listen up ” Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I’ve Got)”