Reach Out (I’ll Be There)’: A Motown Classic from The Four Tops (1966)

The Four Tops

The Four Tops burst onto the music scene in 1966 with their hit single ‘Reach Out I’ll Be There’. The song was a massive success, reaching #4 on the Canadian Top Singles chart and #11 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. The Four Tops had been around for over a decade before they signed with Motown Records in 1963. However, the investment paid off for Motown, and the Four Tops became one of the label’s most successful and enduring acts.

The Four Tops

The Motown songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland wrote ‘Reach Out I’ll Be There’ after seeing The Four Tops perform at a club in Detroit. Brian Holland invited them to the Motown studios, where they spent the rest of the night recording the song. Like many Holland-Dozier-Holland compositions, the uptempo music belies the subject matter in the song: the guy is lonely and heartbroken, desperate for a love that will never return.

The Four Tops were incredible singers and had it all – balance, rhythm, harmony, and style. Levi Stubbs had a voice as good as David Ruffin, and if he sang with the Temptations, the sky would have been the limit! This was the first of many Motown hits for the group and the beginning of a fruitful collaboration with the Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting team.

Motown was a phenomenon during this period. In 1966, a gallon of milk cost 99 cents, while a dozen eggs were only 60 cents. In addition, Lyndon B. Johnson was President of the United States, and the country was in the midst of the Cold War. Despite this, Motown’s music offered an escape from the era’s tensions. The Four Tops were one of the most significant groups ever, and they had so many hits that people couldn’t get enough of their music.

The Four Tops

The process of creating a song was interesting. Most songs started as ballads to get the right feeling and emotion from the chords. Once the right feeling was achieved, the tempo was increased to make the song more commercial. This was because dance music was in with the kids then, and Motown wanted to appeal to as many people as possible.

Watching The Four Tops perform ‘Reach Out I’ll Be There’ is a treat for any music lover. The song starts with a pulsating bass line that immediately gets your attention. The lead vocals are powerful, and the harmonies are perfect. You can feel the emotion in the lyrics as they sing about being there for someone in their time of need.

The Four Tops

The audience is captivated from the first note to the last. People are dancing, clapping, and singing along to the music. You can tell that they are having a great time, and it’s impossible not to get caught up in the energy of the performance.

The Four Tops are one of the Motown label’s most successful and enduring acts. Their hit single ‘Reach Out I’ll Be There’ is a testament to their incredible talent and the power of Motown’s music during the 1960s. I highly recommend watching this video and sharing it with friends because it’s a reminder of a time when music was at its best and could transport you to another world.

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Reach Out (I\'ll Be There)\': A Motown Classic from The Four Tops (1966)