After spending several relatively unsuccessful years touring the clubs, the Four Tops hit paydirt in the late 1950s when they were signed to Motown. In 1964, they released their debut single, Baby I Need Your Loving. From that point on, there was no looking back. Widely credited as one of the greatest bands to emerge from Motown, they spent the ’60s firing out one hit single after the other, and continued to enjoy chart success all the way through the ’80s. Here’s our pick of the 10 best Four Tops songs of all time.
10. I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)
It might be a little more poppy than their usual fare, but I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) still oozes enough soulful emotion to make it a classic. Released in April 1965, it became their biggest ever hit, spending nine weeks at the top of the R&B charts and two weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. It was equally big overseas, becoming their first top 30 hit in the UK.
9. Yesterday’s Dreams
The titular track to the Four Tops’ sixth studio album was among the first singles the group released after Holland-Dozier-Holland (the songwriting and production team responsible for the majority of their recordings with Motown) left the label. But clearly, their mentors didn’t take the band’s magic with them: released in 1968, Yesterday’s Dreams met with critical acclaim and commercial success, reaching number 49 on the US Hot 100 and number 23 in the UK.
8. It’s The Same Old Song
As udiscovermusic.com says, It’s The Same Old Song represents Motown during the height of its success, coming at a time when the hit machine was firing out one amazing song after another. What’s all the more extraordinary is that the song was conceived, created, and released in just 24 hours. Rush jobs have never sounded so good. Released in 1965 as the second single from the album Four Tops’ Second Album, it climbed to No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 on the Billboard R&B chart.
7. Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I’ve Got)
The Four Tops’ first album with ABC-Dunhill after departing Motown in the early seventies was Keeper of the Gate. Critically, it was a flop, but its singles reawakened interest in the band and led to some of their biggest hits since their mid-60s peak. One of them was Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I’ve Got), a delicate, wonderfully romantic ballad that became their most successful post-Motown hit, reaching number four on the Billboard Hot 100, number 1 on the Cash Box Top 100, and eventually certifying gold after selling over 1 million copies in the US.
6. Ask The Lonely
After missing out on the Top 40 with their second single after signing with Motown (Without the One You Love (Life’s Not Worth While)), the Four Tops proved they were no one-hit wonders with their third single, the heartbreaking ballad, Ask The Lonely. Written and produced by Motown A&R head William “Mickey” Stevenson, the tearjerker became a major hit, rising to number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 9 on the R&B charts. Levi Stubbs’ emotional lead vocals are particularly lovely.
5. Standing in the Shadows of Love
At the time of its release in 1966, Billboard described Standing in the Shadows of Love as a “solid rhythm rocker headed fast for the top.” Which is exactly where it landed. A top ten hit on both sides of the pond, its memorable lyrics, pitch-perfect delivery, and timeless emotion have made it one of the band’s most enduringly popular hits, not to mention one of the most instantly recognizable Motown songs of the ’60s.
4. Walk Away Renee
If you’ve ever wondered why the Four Tops are remembered as one of the greatest bands to ever emerge from Motown, just listen to Levi Stubbs’ tender, heartbreakingly wistful vocals on Walk Away Renee. Factor in the beautiful flute solo and lush string orchestration and it’s easy to see why this baroque pop gem occupies such a special place in the group’s back pages.
3. Something About You
With its gritty R&B rhythms, punchy horns, and swaggering guitar riffs, Something About You was always destined to be a hit. Which is exactly what it was – released as the third single from the group’s second album, it reached number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 9 on the R&B charts. It’s since been covered by a slew of artists, including Phil Collins, Quincy Jones, Graham Bonnet, Dave Edmunds, The Grass Roots, and Cilla Black. Suffice to say, none have come close to besting the wicked vocals and emotional punch of the original.
2. Baby I Need Your Loving
In the summer of 1964, the Four Tops unleashed their Motown debut, Baby I Need Your Loving. It was an instant hit, reaching number eleven on the US Billboard Hot 100, number four in Canada, and becoming their first (but not their last) single to exceed sales of 1 million. Several decades after its release, it showed its staying power when Rolling Stone named it to their list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”
1. Reach Out I’ll Be There
For many fans, Reach Out I’ll Be There isn’t only the finest Four Tops song ever recorded, it’s one of the very best Motown songs ever made. Strangely enough, it almost never got released – after hearing the finished version, the band felt it sounded ‘odd’ and begged Motown founder Berry Gordy to bury it. Instead, he released it as a singe, whereupon it hit number one in both the US and UK.