The Four Tops, 4 Tops On Broadway, Motown M-657, 1967
Berry Gordy learned how to run a record company from working on the Ford assembly lines. If mass production worked for the Falcon, it would work for Pop Music. So he made all his artists sign contracts that allowed the company to charge the artists for all recording expenses, and them had them record whatever idea popped into some producer’s head. It didn’t matter if the record wouldn’t sell or reflect any kind of strategy for the group.
So, in the wake of some of the most Earth shattering R&B music of the 1960s, songs like Reach Out, I’ll Be There, Standing In The Shadows Of Love, and Bernadette, Motown released this album on the 4 Tops. Part of it could be that The Four Tops were h-o-t, and the more records they had in stores, the more Motown would sell. Part of it could be that the groups producers, Holland Dozier & Holland, were doing a work slow down (on their way out the door) in a royalties dispute. But probably, it was because Motown forced the group to record songs outside of their natural genre in an effort to widen their appeal to a wider audience.
So despite all my griping, and for all the damage this record did to the career of the group, I gotta say, this random collection of show tunes is pretty damned great. I can’t imagine why they did it, but there’s not a four part harmony group in history that sell material so far out of their comfort zone as the Four Tops.
Cost: $2, $707 Remaining