|Pop Culture Gadabout|
Saturday, October 18, 2008 |
( 10/18/2008 07:53:00 AM ) Bill S.
"I'LL BE THERE WITH A LOVE THAT WILL SHELTER YOU." Woke up this a.m. and read that Levi Stubbs, the lead singer of Motown giants the Four Tops has passed on. Some great powerful performances came out of those mighty pipes – "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honeybunch)," "It's the Same Old Song," "Standing in the Shadows of Love," "Bernadette" – all of 'em written to Stubbs' melodramatic specs by Holland/Dozier/Holland. Their covers of "Walk Away Renee" and "If I Were A Carpenter" are pretty damn terrific, too.
Of all the groups to come out of Motown during its peak, the Tops were arguably the most in sync with young rock-'n'-rollers' ears, and the key was Stubbs' great bellowing vocals. (Listen to the moment when he desperately hollers "Bernadette!" one last time in the single bearing her name: that's the sound of romantic agony.) Not for nothing that David Johansen long made the Four Tops a part of his in-concert repertoire: he and Stubbs were brothers in bluster.
Here are the Tops lip-synching their first Motor City hit: