The Four Tops, Still Waters Run Deep, Motown MS-704, 1970
I wrote a little bit yesterday about shopping for records in different parts of the country and what you might expect when you move your search around a bit. Bigger cities are where you’ll find the most used record shops and one might presume, the best deals. I’m just back from a few days in Los Angeles, and while they have an amazing array of record shops, I think I’m better off staying put in Oregon and shopping here to finish this blog.
In four days, I probably hit 12 shops in the massive geographic area they call the Southland. I found some amazing records, and if money was no object, the plane would have had trouble taking off from the weight of my purchases. Still, I did flip through enough racks to find some affordable records. They’re just not necessarily up to the quality I’ve selfishly become accustomed to.
Case in point, this Four Tops album, the first Motown record I’ve featured. I’ve never mentioned my personal interests in actual music before. My focus has been on the fun records of any genre can provide. Truth be told, the Motown Sound of the 1960’s is really what I’m looking for when I shop for records. Ok, to be fair, my love for The Beatles and The Beach Boys remains faithful, but it’s really Motown that I’ll always come back to. I’d love to have an original copy of every release they ever made.
Unfortunately for me, Motown wasn’t as popular in the Pacific Northwest as it was virtually anywhere else in the United States, so my chances of finding an affordable original copy of Heat Wave by Martha & The Vandellas are pretty remote.
When I say every Motown album, I mean EVERY Motown album. Plenty of histories of 2648 West Grand Boulevard, Detroit, MI that I won’t blog here about the damage done to groups like The Four Tops when their producers Holland, Dozier & Holland left the company in a dispute over royalties. Suffice to say that by the time this record came out in 1970, and this is not my line, but The Four Tops sounded more like The Ink Spots than The Temptations. The creative pyramid scheme that was Motown just didn’t have the ability to manage their talent through any flavors-of the-month problems.
It’s such a shame to see a cohesive vocal group that stayed together until death have to suffer from recording covers of It’s All In The Game to have a charting single. Still Water (Love) was really their creative Motown swan song, despite group member Obie Benson providing the creative genius behind Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On album.
Speaking of creative genius, the 1970 Motown inner sleeve is a master work of pure marketing with a healthy dose of corporate backstabbing involved. Judging by the corner cut on this record, I’m grateful that the first owner had no time to cut up the inner sleeve for hie or her chance to sign up for the fan club of their favorite Motown act. But it is painfully obvious that the company featured Diana Ross as the first box to check with the now lowly Supremes last on the list, behind The Marvelettes (who may have not even been together as a group when this record came out, Berry Gordy was rumored to lose the rights to their name in a poker game soon after).
Because this is a Motown album, I’ll always keep it until I find a better copy, but overall, I wasn’t impressed with the quality of the sound and the production. This record cost me $4 and by my standards, I fell like I paid too much. Yes, I know how lucky I should feel about finding an original Motown album for so cheap, but when I play this record against the on I featured yesterday, I feel let down.
Cost, $4, $965 Remaining