Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Four Tops

  • Greatest Hits Vol. 2 [Motown, 1971] C+
  • Keeper of the Castle [Dunhill, 1972] C-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Greatest Hits Vol. 2 [Motown, 1971]
If Levi Stubbs is one of the definitive soul men, as some believe, then what he defines is the pitfalls of the style. He's a singer who's more interested in impressing the deacons (and their wives) than feeling the spirit--overripe, self-involved, and in the end pretentious. And this material is far from his best--stuck with the low-grade rock gentility of "Walk Away Renee" and "If I Were a Carpenter" and the sermonizing of "What Is Man" and "In These Changing Times," he's a typical victim of Motown's decadence. Despite some good rhythm tracks--they always seem to get good rhythm tracks out there--the only one of these songs you'll remember fondly is "Just Seven Numbers," a simple-minded throwaway about swallowing your pride and making that call. C+

Keeper of the Castle [Dunhill, 1972]
The contrast of Levi Stubbs's self-indulgence against Motown's economical bottom worked sometimes, although toward the end the breast-beating began to sound like an Olatunji imitation. But when superschlockers Lambert, Potter, and Barri meet force with force, the results are too overbearing to interest anyone but professional theorists of camp. C-

Further Notes:

Distinctions Not Cost-Effective [1980s]: I'll grant them this much--the same old song would have been even worse.

Everything Rocks and Nothing Ever Dies [1990s]