Tuesday, 9 October 2018

The Four Tops - Yesterday's Dreams (1968)


  

Released August 1968

Songwriting team Holland-Dozier-Holland, who had contributed so much to The Four Tops' success throughout the sixties, had now left Motown after a financial dispute. They left only one song on this album, ironically "I'm In A Different World", which Eddie Holland apparently considered his finest ever song. It would not be my first choice, although it is a great song, with a delicious bass line and catchy refrain. There again, he wrote it. The other songs on the album came from Nickolas Ashford/Valerie Simpson, Ivy Jo Hunter/Pam Sawyer among others and a selection of covers.

While not being absolutely chock-full of classics likes its predecessor, "Reach Out", this album still had some good stuff on it - the afore-mentioned song, the soulful, infectious title track, the muscular "Can't Seem To Get You Out Of My Mind" and "We've Got A Strong Love" get the album off to a fine start. The stereo sound quality is excellent on the album too, it was now 1968, and recording techniques and sound reproduction were getting better literally by the day.

Jimmy Webb's "By The Time In Get The Phoenix" is the first cover version (Motown were still trying to attract a more "adult" audience by putting covers like this on albums by artists like The Four Tops). They do this one convincingly, though, and it doesn't sound too out of place. "Remember When" is a buzzy guitar-driven pulsating Motown number in the style of The Temptations' "I Know I'm Losing You". The much-covered "Sunny" sounds excellent, as actually does The Monkees' "Daydream Believer". They actually are given a Motown feel by the production, so they don't sound out of place next to a genuine Motown song like "Remember When". This was not the case with the covers on 1966's "On Top", for example.

"Never My Love", another cover, also sounds convincing. Despite the presence of the inevitable covers on the album, the production from Ivy Jo Hunter and Frank Wilson has ensured that the album plays and sounds as a solid Motown album. It possibly sounds more self-contained as an album than "Reach Out" did, due to the latter's six hit singles making it almost sound like a "greatest hits" in places.

"Once Upon A Time" descends into cheese, I have to admit, however. The same applies to "The Sweetheart Tree". Proper Motown returns with a solid cover of Stevie Wonder's "A Place In The Sun" to end the album. A bit patchy at the end but overall, a credible album. Another of those painted covers, like "Reach Out", though!

C+

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