Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

8. Four TopsSuper Hits

If I want to pick my favourite records then I have to pick something from Motown. When you have that kind of catalogue it can be hard pinpoint one act. In my case, it would have to be the Four Tops and therefore I have to pick a greatest hits album.

I never had a problem considering the Four Tops as a band. As a little kid they were omnipresent if you were glued to the radio as I was. They were a constant fixture year-in, year-out. They would release incredible songs like ‘It’s The Same Old Song’ or ‘Reach Out I’ll Be There’. On this album you get to line up all of these songs back-to-back as a complete body of work, or even like a single live performance. You can hear a darkness and, dare I say it, a rocking spirit that you won’t get from The Supremes or from Smokey Robinson or even Stevie Wonder, mostly due to the presence of Levi Stubbs’ voice. In addition, the music had to match his voice and his range of emotion that you wouldn’t even get on a Marvin Gaye record.

Not only were the songs powerful, but the arrangements and instrumentation and the performances meant that, as far as I am concerned, Four Tops rock like Led Zeppelin. What more do you need? It is a collection of incredible tunes. I bought this record when it came out and all my mates thought I was either really, really old-fashioned or a freak. I knew I wasn’t old-fashioned but what was the alternative? The Boomtown fucking Rats?

PreviousNext Record

The Quietus Digest

Sign up for our free Friday email newsletter.

Support The Quietus

Our journalism is funded by our readers. Become a subscriber today to help champion our writing, plus enjoy bonus essays, podcasts, playlists and music downloads.

Support & Subscribe Today