There's an overabundance of Four Tops compilations on the market, mostly thanks to Motown's differing marketing strategies over the decade and a half since the CD boom began (meanwhile, the long-promised box set languishes forgotten, off the release schedule). What sets this release apart is its low price ($12 or less) and its 18 songs, which include not only the essential hits ("Reach Out," "I Can't Help Myself," "It's the Same Old Song," "Baby I Need Your Loving," "Ask the Lonely," etc.) but any number of early LP tracks and B-sides, including "Love Feels Like Fire," "Helpless," "Where Did You Go," "Just as Long as You Need Me," and "Is There Anything That I Can Do," many of which haven't been on CD since the early, woefully badly mastered two-on-one disc of their first two albums was deleted. Those first two LPs by the group were filled with both busted singles and songs that might just as easily have been issued as 45s -- there was no difference in the philosophy behind their album tracks, so anyone who enjoys those early hits can simply luxuriate in the astonishing vocalizing by Levi Stubbs, Lawrence Payton, Obie Benson, and Abdul Fakir, and some occasional surprises, such as the Smokey Robinson co-authored and produced "Is There Anything That I Can Do" (a flawed but magnificently passionate song), the ethereal "Where Did You Go," and the soaring, brash "Tea House in China Town." The difference is that the LP cuts have got much better sound this time out, because they used the mid-'90s remasterings, and the assembly of material is so well chosen that this makes a fine little early best-of compilation on its own. Motown's London office conceived and executed this release on behalf of the German Karussell label, and both have outdone Motown's U.S. division where this group and repertory are concerned. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi
This CD covers the classic Temptations era from 1964 to 1968, with 1968 being unrepresented. "(You're My) Dream Come True" is the sole exception, with the release date of 1962. For the Temptations-challenged, their classic era began and ended with David Ruffin. This is a good album for Temptations completists for the B-sides and album cuts, but front runners will bemoan the omission of classics like "The Way You Do the Things You Do," "I Know I'm Losing You," etc. Eddie Kendricks leads the most songs (11), Ruffin fronts five, and Paul Williams works his baritone on two selections, including Smokey Robinson and Ronnie White's lilting "Don't Look Back." ~ Andrew Hamilton, Rovi
Track samples provided courtesy of iTunes
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