17 October 2008

A Tear For Levi

The Four Tops: "Standing In The Shadows Of Love" [mp3]

Levi Stubbs, lead singer of The Four Tops, passed away today at the age of 72.

I heard plenty of Motown and Mr. Stubbs commanding yet pleading voice in the house and car growing up...Motown was right up my mom's alley, and my Sister Starsky and I dug the hell outta Hitsville USA too, and if you have any doubts about just how powerful that Motown Sound truly is, play it to children...Play it to babies, even...It's been my experience with my two nieces, Shorty and The Manga Queen, as well as the experience of several other parents I've discussed this with over the years (hey, I consider this an important phenomenon worthy of examination) that any given Motown song, whether sung by The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Supremes, The Jackson 5, Gladys Knight & The Pips, The Spinners, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, will put a smile on a small child's face, and get them bopping around...The consensus is that the Motown Sound, more than any other music, save perhaps Sesame Street, has the most profound effect on the young...toddlers in particular...1-3 year olds...

So, what is it? What's the secret? Holland-Dozier-Holland songcraft? The sweet strings? Those supple horns? James Jamerson's amazing bass? All those amazing vocal arrangements and harmonies? Berry Gordy's production style/philosophy in general?

It all adds up to the most sophisticated simplicity, that's all I can say, something powerful and upbeat and joyous even when Levi Stubbs is singing about his heart being ripped apart...

RIP, Levi Stubbles.

Hotcha! Hank

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home