It Ain’t the Same Old Song

Go ahead and let the Brits have Northern Soul. And leave Stax’s back catalog for those rebellious southerners — neither could hold a crocodile loafer next to Motown’s dancetastic acts the Temptations and the Four Tops.

Some say there was magic in those old, rickety Motown floorboards; others credit songwriting teams like Holland-Dozier-Holland and the finally famous recording band The Funk Brothers for the studio’s golden era success. But none would argue that this epicenter for rhythm and blues, doo-wop, and soul attracted the best of the best. Only the highest achievers made it to Motown’s front steps to cut some of the greatest records of all time.

The Temptations did so by setting itself apart from other groups. It did away with the idea of one man on lead vocals and instead pulled together a five-piece wall of soulful sound. The Four Tops hit its mark by straining tenor Levi Stubbs’ glorious range just a tad to the north, a trick that gave his golden pipes a gospel tinge. It carried songs like “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” “Standing in the Shadows of Love,” “Bernadette,” and pretty much every other heel-stomping Tops tune.

Each group has only one remaining original member: Abdul “Duke” Fakir in the Four Tops, and Otis Williams repping for the Tempts. But those fellas have surrounded themselves with some of the greatest gospel/soul talent available, so seeing them all together tonight at the Kravis Center should leave you floating on “Cloud Nine” (who knew it was at 701 Okeechobee Blvd. in West Palm Beach?). Tickets to Wednesday’s one-night only show range from $20 to $105. Get them at kravis.org.
Wed., Feb. 18, 2009

 
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