Tag Archives: The Four Tops

The Four Tops - Something About You Label Image

A Tamla Motown Collection – Part 42

The Four Tops – Something About You – TMG 542

The Four Tops were one of Holland-Dozier-Holland’s two favoured acts (the other being the Supremes). However, they didn’t give the Four Tops the best possible song or production for this single release. It’s a nice enough song, but like the Miracles release that I featured a couple of days ago, it’s a weak follow-up to a great record. In the Four Tops case this followed up It’s The Same Old Song.

Musically it’s OK and can generate dance floor action ,but it sounds so much like a “Friday afternoon” product – created when everybody involved just wanted to go home for the weekend. I have no idea when it was recorded, but where is the energy from the Four Tops of from the backing band?

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A Tamla Motown Collection – Part 28

The Four Tops – It’s The Same Old Song – TMG 528

August 1965 drew to a close with the release of this classic by the UK Tamla Motown label, which reached number 34 in the UK chart.

Written and produced by Motown’s prolific production team of Holland–Dozier–Holland, the song is today one of The Four Tops’ best known songs. What is not so well known was that it was created – from initial concept to commercial release – in 24 hours.

After the Motown success of “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” June 1965, The Four Tops’ former US label, re-released their 1960 Columbia single “Ain’t That Love”. Berry Gordy ordered that a new Four Tops single had to be released within a day’s time.

At 3-o’clock PM that afternoon, the Holland brothers and Lamont Dozier wrote “It’s the Same Old Song”. Abdul “Duke” Fakir, the Four Tops tenor recalled:

Songwriter, Lamont Dozier and I were both a little tipsy and he was changing the channels on the radio. He said, ‘It sounds like the same old song.’ And then he said, “Wait a minute.” So he took “I Can’t Help Myself” and reversed it using the same chord changes. The next day, we went to the studio and recorded it, and then they put it on acetate and released to radio stations across the country.

The Motown technicians then worked around the clock perfecting the single’s mix and making hand-cut vinyl records so that Berry Gordy’s sister Esther who ran Artist Development department could choose the best for single release. By 3 P.M. the next day, 1500 copies of “It’s the Same Song” had been delivered to radio DJs across the country, and the song eventually made it to number five on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart .

The song itself stuck to the Motown formula of “keeping it similar”. “It’s the Same Old Song” is very similar in melody and chord progressions to “I Can’t Help Myself”, which in turn is even more similar in melody and chord progressions to “Where Did Our Love Go” by the Supremes. 

John Lennon sang a bit of the song in The Beatles annual Christmas Message for 1965.

A Tamla Motown Collection – Part 15

The Four Tops – I Can’t Help Myself – TMG 515

With the release of this single, the Tamla Motown Label in the UK sealed its biggest hit to date and gave the world a song that is still a staple of parties, weddings and northern soul events. This song has been described, with some justification, as “the best dance track ever recorded” and it really need no introduction as the opening notes set out exactly what we have.

There are many great vocalists within the Motown stable, but Levi Stubbs, the Four Tops lead singer, takes some beating for the soul dripping from every note of every one of his records.

Roll back the carpet, turn up the volume and dance. “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch, you know that I love you”