Friday, October 17, 2008

Levi Stubbs (1936 - 2008)



Just heard the sad news of the death of Levi Stubbs and was compelled to say a few words.

It was my great good fortune that so many of the greatest The Four Tops' classic 45's were also among the first few records I can remember seeing in our house. Although I was just a wee speck at the time, I absolutely loved tracks like 'Walk away Rene', 'Bernadette' and 'If I were a Carpenter'. My favorite though was always 'Reach out(I'll be there)' which absolutely sent me into the future every time my older sister played it. It was a great tune, structure, everything, with a wild energy all of its own, like very little else before or since - but it was Levi Stubbs tenderly delivered and yet startlingly righteous vocal that sealed it for me.

By way of a tribute, here's a live vocal from 1966. Unstoppable, I think, is the word.

His loss will be particularly powerful to all those who felt that his music spoke to ordinary men and women everywhere - not just to a niche market - and by all those who can still remember what it means to dance with someone else and have it really mean something.

RIP, Levi Stubbs

7 comments:

May1366 said...

Wonderful tribute, sourpus. And that last line sums up so much about what made The Four Tops special. If you think about all their most loved songs, every one could have you dancing, even the apparent ballads like Ask The Lonely or Walk Away Renee: they just had you dancing, in Smokey's words, to keep from crying. And on top of the indestructible groove, there was that voice which is still, still, one of the most searing, monumental sounds in music that never fails to shake me to the core. RIP.

ToffeeBoy said...

Nice one sourpus - a truly great singer (that's Levi Stubbs, not you!) - his was a voice that I grew up with and could never tire of hearing. It was hard enough to listen to Walk Away Rene without shedding a tear or two before this - it will now be virtually impossible.

RIP Mr Stubbs

TracyK said...

Agreed: that kind of soul voice where you can feel the emotion is my favourite kind and I think Levi, Otis and Aretha all had it. My mum just loved The Four Tops and the Temps, I always loved Reach Out best.
"When the world falls apart, some things stay in place..."

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