Four Tops – Reach Out: #897 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Four Tops - Reach Out

Why is Four Tops’ Reach Out on my best 1,000 albums ever list?

Reach out for some fantastic old school Motown soul.

What does Four Tops’ Reach Out mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?

“Reach Out, I’ll Be There” holds a classic, timeless quality. The Four Tops as a vocal group have incredible harmonies, and the use of flute and a bouncing, driving soul beat and positive, uplifting spirit take it to the next level. At a hair under three minutes, it zips along and leaves you wanting more.

Admittedly, there are some lighter weight tracks on Reach Out, like the odd choice to include not one but two Monkees covers (“I’m A Believer” and “Last Train to Clarksville”) in, I’d suppose, a bid to cash in on the zeitgeist of the era.

But songs like “Bernadette” are right in the Four Tops’ wheelhouse, creating an exciting and emotional mood, again with a driving beat that keeps everything moving wonderfully.

Here’s a version where you can see them performing along to the song – even if it’s not quite a “live version.” Also: I’m a huge of fan of when everyone in the group wears the same outfit and then they do coordinated moves and stuff.

“Standing In the Shadows of Love” goes for the same vibe as “Bernadette,” this time including the use of congas while also bringing back some of the flute action from “Reach Out, I’ll Be There,” and it all totally works.

Reach Out was released in 1967, which is interesting because the historical lens on that year from a pop culture perspective is typically framed as when the 1960s really started to transition into The ‘60s, replete with hippies and pot smoking (or grass in the historical parlance, I suppose) and Haight Asbury. The Summer of Love. And speaking of Love, the band Love and another foursome out of Los Angeles by the name of The Doors breaking through the local scene on the Sunset Strip to smash the charts with “Break on Through” and “Light My Fire.”

But Reach Out shows that there’s a wide-ranging audience for popular music at any time, and Motown, soul, R&B, and, I’m sure, country and western and many other different kinds of music were being consumed and enjoyed even while the counterculture scene began to project its influence on the pop charts.  

Okay, I have an admission to make, which allows me, your humble narrator (as the immortal Anthony Burgess might put it) to take you behind the curtain of 1,000 best albums ever studios, as it were.

Here it is: I could not for the life of me figure out if the name of this group is Four Tops or THE Four Tops. You see it both ways across the webs, plus confusingly sometimes you’ll see it as “Four Tops” but then within the same publication or source it’ll casually be dropped in as The Four Tops and not even at the beginning of a sentence. Maddening, people!

So I put on my Thinking Cap – which may or may not be the same as my Hat That I Wear For Most Hat-Related Things, Including Hat-Related Thinking – and I’m going with the name of the group as written on Reach Out’s album cover, which is indeed and indisputably Four Tops.

Some stats & info about Four Tops – Reach Out

Four Tops’ Reach Out on Spotify

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective take on what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.