IF YOU WANNA KNOW WHY I CAN SMILE

Just a quick one today to round out the posts for my forthcoming mix: Longevity Has Its Place.

In 1972 Motown moved its headquarters to Los Angeles. Among their large and talented stable of artists, the Four Tops—perhaps most famously associated with their 1965 number-one hit “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” and their 1966 number-one hit “Reach Out I’ll Be There”—opted to part ways with the company and remain in their hometown of Detroit, Michigan. Signing with the ABC-Dunhill label, the Four Tops were teamed up with producers/songwriters Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter.

The Four Tops would return to Motown in a decade, but in the interim they would make some great and interesting music. Their first album for ABC-Dunhill— 1972’s Keeper of the Castle—featured the hit “Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I’ve Got)”, which was later interpolated in 1996 by Jay-Z and Foxy Brown for the second single off of Jay-Z’s debut album Reasonable Doubt: “Ain’t No Nigga.” In 1973 the Four Tops would have another hit with the theme song to the film Shaft in Africa: “Are You Man Enough.”

However, today I’d like to feature another song off of Keeper of the Castle, the fantastically funked-up and feel-good “Turn On the Light of Your Love.”

Like it? Buy it.

It should be noted that unlike most R&B groups, the Four Tops (being Levi Stubbs, Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Renaldo “Obie” Benson, and Lawrence Payton) remained together for over four decades, having gone from 1953 until 1997 without a single change in personnel. A change of line-up was finally forced upon the group when Lawrence Payton died on June 20, 1997.

For a certain generation (mine), lead singer Levi Stubbs might be more familiar as the voice of Mother Brain on the Nintendo-based NBC Saturday morning cartoon Captain N: The Game Master, which ran from 1989 to 1991.

Even more memorable to my generation’s mind, Mr. Stubbs was the man who performed the incredible vocals for the carnivorous, yet completely charismatic plant Audrey II in the astounding, Frank Oz directed, 1986 musical film Little Shop of Horrors. Really, I couldn’t go on enough about this film, so if you have not seen it (or haven’t seen it since you were a kid) you certainly should make it priority viewing. Not only is the soundtrack amazing, but also this hysterical movie contains Steve Martin’s finest screen performance—as Orin Scrivello, the sadistic, nitrous oxide huffing dentist.

————————-BOBBY CALERO

Ref:

The Geffen Company, Warner Bros. (1986) (Creators). Robonhigh (Poster)  (2008, Aug 20). FEED ME SEYMORE – LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS [Video] Retrieved March 10, 2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7SkrYF8lCU

The Geffen Company, Warner Bros. (1986) (Creators). TheDoomWizzard  (Poster)  (2011, May 15).  [HD] Dentist! – Little Shop of Horrors [Video] Retrieved March 10, 2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_VU1q7czkE

Perry, L., Stubbs Jr., L., Benson, R., Fakir, A. (1972). Turn On the Light of Your Love [recorded by Four Tops] On Keeper of the Castle [CD] ABC-Dunhill. (1972). Motown (1992)

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