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Saturday, 18 September 2010

The Four Tops - Live! (1966)

From The Lost Record Covers Club
Only a few Motown artists survived the changing face of music as the 60's rolled into the 70's. Motown had a dogged determination to hold onto the old rather than move with the times, both musically and politically.  The Four Tops, however, enjoyed a career with the label spanning through the 60's and 70's and even rejoining the label in the late 80's.

This live set shows them at the height of their 60's fame riding the Motown sound at a show in Detroit's Roostertail club.  Backed by Earl Van Dyke and his band, they perfom many of their hits including "Reach Out"; "Baby, I Need Your Loving"; "It's The Same Old Song"; Ask The Lonely" and "I Can't Help Myself" between turning to nightclub favourites like "If I Had A Hammer" "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" and "I Left My Heart In San Francisco" (This Levi Stubbs makes his own, singing "..San Diego" before commenting " I like San Diego better!").  This second group of songs may put you off as they seem really old hat now but that doesn't factor in the Tops' performance which is forceful and free of Motown "slickness" - the group making everything soulful.  It's a great show and makes you wish you could have been there in that small sweaty club seeing these major stars about to break out of Detroit to worldwide acclaim. They even get local radio emcee Scott Regan (who also writes the sleeve notes here) involved.

This is a great record (in the wider sense) of the group doing what they did best - performing live.  Why this has never been issued by Motown and it's various owners on CD who have constantly given releases to less well deserved causes I have no idea.

Tamla Motown - (S)TML 11041 (original)/This reissue WL 72114

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