Four Tops ‘Indestructible: expanded edition’ (BBR) 3/5

fourtopsBy the late 1980s the Motown dynasty had largely folded, but long-term groups such as the Temptations and the Four Tops were still in operation and, in parts, still conjuring up the odd inspired tune. Original band members of the Four Tops were still present and included lead vocalist Duke Fakir, Levi Stubbs and Obie Benson and a host of producers included the likes of veteran musician Lamont Dozier, Narada Michael Walden and a combination of Jerry Knight and Aaron Zigman. It should be state from the outset that those with a nervous disposition aversion to mid-late 1980s synths and crashing drums may have to turn away, but for the rest this is an above average pop-soul offering with some stronger ballad work. A catchy hit single with Latin inflections and Motownesque strings, ‘Loco in Acopulco’, ensured a major commercial success and here is offered in four separate version among the generous bonus cuts including two 12″ versions, a UK and European mix aside. The title track, a duet with fellow Motown artist Smokey Robinson, secured another pop chart entrance with classy vocals throughout. Arguably the strongest numbers are the ballads where the tight harmonies of the group’s golden era are reproduced and the quiet storm number ‘Change of heart’ is timeless as is the fine soulful duet with the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin on ‘If ever a love there was’. Only the rockier hues of ‘Are you with me’ and ‘Next time’ detract from the overall feel. Tim Stenhouse