B-side of Baby I Need Your Loving
(Written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Edward Holland Jr.)
B-side of Baby I Need Your Loving
(Released in the UK under license through EMI/Stateside Records)
The incredible vocal talents of the Four Tops, and the stunning effect when their voices were combined with those of the Andantes, is a topic that deserves a book all of its own (and I’m aware that in spending so many words reviewing the A-side Baby I Need Your Loving, I almost ended up writing that book!)
Even when Motown’s strongest magic departs the studio, and the material the boys and girls are left to work with is of a lower calibre – as with this B-side, for instance – the vocals are often still just outstanding. It doesn’t take much pushing for all the vocal elements to fall out of place, as we’ll see on a few future releases, but here all Seven Andantops sound as lovely as ever.
They’re given a lot less to do, mind. Once again, this is a showcase for Levi Stubbs and his magnificent voice, one minute ocean-deep, the next throatily hoarse, but the harmonies behind him are far less intricate than on Baby I Need Your Loving. This song is an off-the-peg 6/8 doo-wop number reworked with vast walls of strings and choral trappings. It sounds like a cover of something the Tops, or some other atavistic doo-wop group, might have sung on some street corner in 1956, but it’s been tidied up; the slicker, more professional Motown band and those orchestral strings keeping the tempo chugging along behind Levi, meaning the other Tops (who might otherwise have provided a multi-part harmony backing) aren’t really needed at all.
Producers and co-writers Holland and Dozier, perhaps realising their mistake in slathering the song with all that accompaniment (a throwback, perhaps, to the Tops’ abortive 1963 Workshop Jazz album project, Breaking Through, which featured a selection of standards and other MOR material done in a soft-jazz style), still needed to get the Four Tops onto a Four Tops record, still wanted to use that remarkable Seven Topdantes blend, and so while Levi again gives it his all, the Other Six provide choral backing, a series of wordless harmony ooohs and aaahs in the far distance.
It’s a bit of a waste, really. Obie, Duke and Lawrence don’t really identify themselves until we’re into the second verse, and even then they’re very much part of the furniture (or even the wallpaper, if we’re stretching this decorating analogy as far as it’ll go) rather than the main attraction.
Even if the Tops and Andantes are underused on what turns out to be a rather slight little song, though, it still all sounds rather lovely. And I’d listen to these guys sing the ingredients off a bottle of HP Sauce.
MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
(I’ve had MY say, now it’s your turn. Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment, or click the thumbs at the bottom there. Dissent is encouraged!)
You’re reading Motown Junkies, an attempt to review every Motown A- and B-side ever released. Click on the “previous” and “next” buttons below to go back and forth through the catalogue, or visit the Master Index for a full list of reviews so far.
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“Baby I Need Your Loving”
“Since I’ve Lost You”
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