The Four Tops Turn Fifty

Two-disc anthology due in January

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Hip-O Records will release Four Tops: 50th Anniversary Anthology, a two-disc, forty-eight-track compilation spanning the vocal quartet's half-century career, on January 13th. Among the hits included on the set are "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)," "Baby I Need Your Loving," "Standing in the Shadows of Love" and "Reach Out I'll Be There."

Although "Reach Out" went to Number One in 1966, the group didn't particularly care for it at first. "It just didn't sound right in the studio," says the Tops' Abdul "Duke" Fakir. "After a couple weeks, [Motown head] Berry Gordy called us up to his office and said, 'Fellas, get ready for the biggest hit you've ever had.' And we were like, 'Oh, wow. When are going to record it?' And he said, 'You already have.' Sure enough, when I heard it on the radio it sounded like a hit."

"It's the Same Old Song" had an even less-likely birth when the Tops needed a quick hit to follow-up their other Number One, "I Can't Help Myself." "[Songwriter] Lamont Dozier and I were both a little tipsy and he was changing the channels on the radio," says Fakir. "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 shipped it out to disc jockeys across the country."

Since forming in 1953, the Tops only lineup change came in 1997, when singer Lawrence Payton died and the surviving members shortened the group's name to the Tops. Fakir attributes their longevity in part to advice they got from legendary pop singer Billy Eckstine. "He said, 'If you are fortunate enough to get a million people behind you, promise me you'll take care of them, and, believe me, they'll be there to take care of you the rest of your life.' It must have stuck pretty good with all of us, because that's what we try to do."

Four Tops: 50th Anniversary Anthology track listing:

Disc One

Baby I Need Your Loving
Without The One You Love (Life's Just Not Worthwhile)
Ask the Lonely
I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)
It's the Same Old Song
Something About You
Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)
Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever
Reach Out I'll Be There
Standing in the Shadows of Love
Bernadette
I Got a Feeling
7-Rooms of Gloom
I'll Turn to Stone
You Keep Running Away
Walk Away Renee
If I Were a Carpenter
Yesterday's Dreams
I'm in a Different World
What Is a Man
Don't Let Him Take Your Love From Me
It's All in the Game
Still Water (Love)
River Deep Mountain High
Just Seven Numbers (Can Straighten Out My Life)
In These Changing Times
MacArthur Park (Part II)

Disc Two

A Simple Game
I Can't Quit Your Love
(It's the Way) Nature Planned It
Keeper of the Castle
Ain't No Woman (Like the One I've Got)
Are You Man Enough
Sweet Understanding Love
I Just Can't Get You Out of My Mind
One Chain Don't Make No Prison
Midnight Flower
Seven Lonely Nights
We All Gotta Stick Together
Catfish
H.E.L.P.
When She Was My Girl
Tonight I'm Gonna Love You All Over
I Believe In You and Me
Back to School Again
I Just Can't Walk Away
Mean Green Mother From Outer Space
Indestructible