Wednesday, September 22, 2021

"Indestructable" by The Four Tops

Song#:  3621
Date:  08/20/1988
Debut:  91
Peak:  35
Weeks:  11
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  This superstar R&B vocal quartet had a solid decade of success. From '64 to '74 the group scored twenty-one R&B Top 10s and seven Pop Top 10s, but by the mid-seventies things began to cool down. They had switched labels from their home of Motown to ABC/Dunhill, then to Casablanca, then back to Motown. While they had bright spots along the way like the 1981 #1 R&B/#11 hit "When She Was My Girl," for the most part they floundered. They would leave Motown again after their 1986 LP Hot Nights failed to chart or generate a charting single and sign up with Arista. With label head Clive Davis helping out, the quartet got paired with top-notch songwriters and producers such as Narada Michael Walden. Davis even got other hot artists to lend a hand including Phil Collins and Huey Lewis. While it wasn't fully an all-star affair, the group's album Indestructible certainly had its share of significant assists. This first title track single got a little boost with Smokey Robinson joining in on vocals. While it would be their first single in five years to reach three of the major charts, it didn't become a major hit. The song got to #57 R&B and #20 AC while becoming their last single to crack the Pop Top 40. In fact, it would be their final single to reach the Pop chart. A second single, "If Ever a Love There Was" featuring Aretha Franklin would be their final single at R&B (#31) and AC (#26). A third single, "Change of Heart," failed to chart. The album would top out at #66 R&B/#149 Pop. With those results, the group found themselves off of Arista and without a label. At that point, the quartet chose to focus on live performances and the only other album they would record would be a Christmas effort for Motown in 1995.

ReduxReview:  I'm guessing that the group knew they had one more shot at a significant comeback and put all their eggs in the Arista/Clive Davis basket. At the time I probably would have as well since his track record at reviving careers was going quite well. Unfortunately, Davis didn't hook the group up with a surefire hit. This single was an interesting listen and was appropriate for its Olympic use (see below), but it just wasn't the right material for a big mainstream hit. It sounded a little old-fashioned and even the production was a bit weak for the time. They needed something more along the lines of "Freeway of Love," Aretha Franklin's big breakthrough on Arista. yet they didn't get anything close to that. Still, the track made the Pop Top 40, which was better than what I thought it would do.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) The Four Tops were a bit unusual in that they never had a single personnel change for 44 years. Formed by four high school friends in 1953, they remained together throughout their entire recording career and beyond. Unfortunately, in 1997 Lawrence Payton died of cancer. The remaining members moved on performing as just The Tops, but then they brought in a fourth person and became The Four Tops again. More personnel changes would take place over the years, but their initial 44 years of staying together was certainly an impressive accomplishment.  2)  This song was also used as a theme for the 1988 Summer Olympics held in Seoul, South Korea. It one one of several songs used during the US broadcast of the games and it was featured on the soundtrack album, which also contained the #5 Whitney Houston hit "One Moment in Time."  3) Another track on the Indestructible album was "Loco in Acapulco." The song was written and produced by Phil Collins and Lamont Dozier, and was originally recorded for the soundtrack to Collins' crime caper/comedy Buster. While the tune did not get released as a single in the US (although it was the flip side to the non-charting "Change of Heart"), it was issued out in Europe late in '88. The tune ended up doing quite well making the Top 10 in several countries including the UK (#7). Collins also played drums on the track.


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