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  1. #1

    The Four Tops I'm In A Different World Gimme your impressions

    I'm now playing the Four Tops Yesterday's Dreams CD in the car when I go to work. "I'm In A Different World." What are your thoughts on this one? I've never, EVER been able to put my finger on what's up with this one. From the first time years and years [[and years) ago when I heard it, my 13 year old ears thought it sounded "tired" and sluggish. I recall my impressions vividly. I thought it sounded as if it was "trying" to be The Motown Sound but was getting bogged down with it's own production. I played it a lot, figuring I'd get into it eventually, but alas, it never clicked fully with me.

    Over time, I've come to "appreciate" it. That's a nice way of saying I'm still trying to get a handle on it. All these decades later, it still sounds kind of "tired" and sluggish. One thing, the drums have none of the life and power of most of the pre-68 Motown records. "Reach Out", "Shadows Of Love","Bernadette", and "7 Rooms" all had powerfull, earth-moving, crisp drum sounds. After that, stuff like "You Keep Running Away" and "Different World" had a newer kind of drum sound, but it sounded kinda dull to me in comparison to the earlier stuff.

    I don't know. What do you all think?

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    Personally I love " I'm In a Different World", I find it full of interest from start to finish. Love the instrumentation and chord changes. Levi's voice is outstanding. Not fond of "Running Away" as it grates on the ears and concentrates too long on monotone passages.

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    The production on the "Yesterday's Dreams" album is very different to earlier Tops albums and, I suspect, reflects changes in the studio technology combined with the end of dedicated mono album mixes.

    This latter change gave rise to the need for stereo mixes that sounded good in mono as well as stereo, which was hard to achieve since mono and stereo were always very different animals.

    As an aside, in this century, a lot of modern stereo mixes are, therefore, hardly anything more than mono plus an ambient wash, and can be this way because the average buyer probably doesn't even know why stereo involves having two speakers. Instead, two speakers is just the way that 'stereos' are.

    Back to 1968. The resultant sound on YD is, to my ears, very clean, very dry, quite lifeless, and very boring when compared with the loud and raucous productions that preceded them. Digital remastering plus relatively expensive 21st century audio equipment can drag a bit more life out of these mixes but, to my ears, the original issues still remain to a large extent.

    As for IIADW, this track suffers a bit from this 'deadness' unless you get hold of the single mix, which has added guts and a slightly different feel.

    Having said all of that, I still really like the track. Also, strangely, the first version that I owned, and the version that I got used to, was on a mono pressing of the UK Motown Chartbusters Volume 3, wherein the stereo mix was folded to mono and then EQ'd a bit. Perhaps, it's because it's the first version that I really got to know, but this is probably my "go to" version.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    Over time, I've come to "appreciate" it. That's a nice way of saying I'm still trying to get a handle on it. All these decades later, it still sounds kind of "tired" and sluggish. One thing, the drums have none of the life and power of most of the pre-68 Motown records. "Reach Out", "Shadows Of Love","Bernadette", and "7 Rooms" all had powerfull, earth-moving, crisp drum sounds. After that, stuff like "You Keep Running Away" and "Different World" had a newer kind of drum sound, but it sounded kinda dull to me in comparison to the earlier stuff.

    I don't know. What do you all think?
    My take on "I'm In A Different World" is that it's good but it's not quite up there with The Four Tops best songs from the '60s. And the drum sound on the song is similar to other Motown songs during that period. They were getting away from the upfront drum sounds of Motown's mid '60s hits and towards a more subtle drum sound. Also "I'm In A Different World" is notable for being the last song that Holland-Dozier-Holland would write & produce for The Tops [until the mid '80s].


  5. #5
    Just in case you are interested in the Originals Live unissued version
    I'm In A Different World [[Live at The Fox Theatre Detroit MI 1968)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSt9EEbnWPw

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    Levi sounds like he is on the verge of tears even tho it is a happy song. This hurt the song.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Circa 1824 View Post
    Levi sounds like he is on the verge of tears even tho it is a happy song. This hurt the song.
    He's actually being pushed to the very top of his register in a slightly less-appealing-than-normal way.

    If I have a slight criticism of Motown it's that they tended to push Levi's vocals to the top of his register even when it wasn't the best thing to do, and sometimes even to the point of those vocals losing any emotional subtlety.

    Not long after, the same thing happened again with "What Is A Man" and, to my ears, the vocal strain is unpleasantly evident again.

    H-D-H largely got away with it, and extracted some absolutely cracking performances but, to my ears, later tracks like "What Is A Man" and "I Am Your Man" are harmed by this approach.

    This was much less the case when the Tops went to Dunhill. Instead, Levi got to really sing, and we could hear a gorgeous richness in his baritone voice that often went unheard at Motown.

    It was even less the case when they went to Casablanca and recorded such tracks as "I Believe In You And Me", where we hear a vastly different, more nuanced and much better vocal style from Levi, moving from baritone to falsetto and back again, plus a little tenor-register roar near the end.

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    I agree.
    Motown obviously wanted producers to attempt to get Levi straining to get the lead vocal on a similar style as HDH.
    But nobody could get it right.
    They should have gone with Ivy Hunter's " Yesterday's Dreams" approach. A gentle smooth style..."Do what you gotta do" another example of a softer style...Levi could sing this stuff easily [[ Ask the lonely).

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    I agree with you and me.

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    I really like "Different World" in that it demonstrates another the many writing/producing styles of HDH. I recall that the mono single version I heard 'back in the day' used a special reverb effect toward the end of the song when Levi sings "Ahhh" that one doesn't find in the stereo mix which took the listener to a 'different world.'

    I gained even more appreciation for 'Different World" when it was used in the Motown 40 broadcast as the backing track as footage of the Tops was shown demonstrating how their success was putting them and Motown in a different world.

    One of my favorite covers that demonstrates the beauty of the lyrics in a lush, New Age setting is by David Stewart & Barbara Gaskin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDo5ZC-GddY
    Last edited by jobucats; 07-06-2021 at 08:18 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sotosound View Post
    He's actually being pushed to the very top of his register in a slightly less-appealing-than-normal way.

    If I have a slight criticism of Motown it's that they tended to push Levi's vocals to the top of his register even when it wasn't the best thing to do, and sometimes even to the point of those vocals losing any emotional subtlety.
    H-D-H pushed Levi's voice to the top of his range on most of the classic singles that The Tops did during the '60s. It worked for those songs [and gave them an edge] but it didn't work as well for lesser songs like "What Is A Man" that were recorded after H-D-H left the company. Also both Marvin Gaye & David Ruffin were pushed to the top of their vocal ranges on songs like Gaye's "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" and The Tempts' "Ain't Too Proud To Beg".


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    In Philly there was a store on Market St. downtown that had massive speakers outside the store, that both promoted the record they were promoting by playing it multiple times consecutively, and drew attention to the store. I remember hearing the song this way for the first time. I liked it, maybe hearing it at maximum volume helped.
    As far as the Motown Sound, at 13, to me anything on Motown and affiliated labels was the Motown Sound. Fast forward to a more seasoned, and knowledgeable me, and the sound leans more towards the Invictus period than it does the 65-67 Classic Period. Knowing that they were coming to the end of the association with Motown, the 3 maestros may not have knocked themselves out. Or put another way, it easily surpassed most of the subsequent single releases, but was not on par with a number of even album cuts from previous projects.

  14. #14
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    I love "I'm In A Different World". Love everything about it. One of my fav Tops tunes.

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    I also love "Different World"Ö it is definitely different from what came before, but I think itís a fantastic songÖ it just constantly keeps you interested. Iíd put it alongside The Supremes' "Reflections" as an example of HDH's innovative late period update of the classic Motown sound

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    Also, thereís a moment when Levi doesnt sound like Levi, around the 2:20-2:28 mark, but I think itís still him singing? Is it HDH making Levi strain even higher?

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    I`ve always liked both songs but the album is a bit disappointing and I would have been a bigger fan if it had "You Keep Running Away" instead of the awful "Sweetheart Tree"
    This was the end of the "Golden Years" and the recordings were more contrived with score sheets instead of chord charts for the Funk Brothers to improvise and more "bells whistles and kitchen sinks" to use.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Sotosound View Post
    The production on the "Yesterday's Dreams" album is very different to earlier Tops albums and, I suspect, reflects changes in the studio technology combined with the end of dedicated mono album mixes.

    This latter change gave rise to the need for stereo mixes that sounded good in mono as well as stereo, which was hard to achieve since mono and stereo were always very different animals.

    As an aside, in this century, a lot of modern stereo mixes are, therefore, hardly anything more than mono plus an ambient wash, and can be this way because the average buyer probably doesn't even know why stereo involves having two speakers. Instead, two speakers is just the way that 'stereos' are.

    Back to 1968. The resultant sound on YD is, to my ears, very clean, very dry, quite lifeless, and very boring when compared with the loud and raucous productions that preceded them. Digital remastering plus relatively expensive 21st century audio equipment can drag a bit more life out of these mixes but, to my ears, the original issues still remain to a large extent.

    As for IIADW, this track suffers a bit from this 'deadness' unless you get hold of the single mix, which has added guts and a slightly different feel.

    Having said all of that, I still really like the track. Also, strangely, the first version that I owned, and the version that I got used to, was on a mono pressing of the UK Motown Chartbusters Volume 3, wherein the stereo mix was folded to mono and then EQ'd a bit. Perhaps, it's because it's the first version that I really got to know, but this is probably my "go to" version.
    You summed it up perfectly. For me, a lot of it really does have to do with the radically different sound of a lot of the music post 1967. I got the "Yesterday's Dreams" album back in the 80s and was expecting something along the lines of the Reach Out album, sonically speaking. I was disappointed because there was what you called, a kind of "deadness" to everything. Plus, everything seemed to be a bit overblown production-wise.

    The songs on "Reach Out", even the non HDH material seemed to have a more natural, effortlessly brilliant quality. As Motown went on though, it seems some of the tunes were bogged down by the sheer amount of moving parts in the music.

    Now, over the years I've gotten hooked on a couple of things from the Yesterday's Dreams LP [[By The Time I Get To Phoenix, Remember When, We've Got A Strong Love On Our Side), but overall, any of the Tops' albums after 1966 feel as if I have to MAKE myself enjoy them.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Polhill View Post
    I`ve always liked both songs but the album is a bit disappointing and I would have been a bigger fan if it had "You Keep Running Away" instead of the awful "Sweetheart Tree"
    This was the end of the "Golden Years" and the recordings were more contrived with score sheets instead of chord charts for the Funk Brothers to improvise and more "bells whistles and kitchen sinks" to use.
    YES! Everything AND the kitchen sink went into a lot of that stuff as time went on. "Contrived" is definitely good word for much of the music that was put on the albums in the later years. The music lost the spark and excitement and raw power as time went on. "If You Don't Want My Love", "Your Love Is Wonderful" and even "Lonely Lover" were latter- day tunes that captured a lot of that spark but instead we got the trying-too-hard-to-sound-introspective cover of "Sunny" and the very out of place inclusion of "Sweetheart Tree" and "Once Upon A Time."
    Last edited by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance; 07-09-2021 at 07:32 PM.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Motown4Ever518 View Post
    In Philly there was a store on Market St. downtown that had massive speakers outside the store, that both promoted the record they were promoting by playing it multiple times consecutively, and drew attention to the store. I remember hearing the song this way for the first time. I liked it, maybe hearing it at maximum volume helped.
    As far as the Motown Sound, at 13, to me anything on Motown and affiliated labels was the Motown Sound. Fast forward to a more seasoned, and knowledgeable me, and the sound leans more towards the Invictus period than it does the 65-67 Classic Period. Knowing that they were coming to the end of the association with Motown, the 3 maestros may not have knocked themselves out. Or put another way, it easily surpassed most of the subsequent single releases, but was not on par with a number of even album cuts from previous projects.
    Some very good observations and actually mirrors my experiences with my Motown love affair. When it was all new to me, as long as it was a Motown record, I loved it. Then as time went on I feel my tastes and preferences got more narrow; basically it was 1962-1967 that I preferred hearing. There actually are some amazing things after '67 but I just seem to prefer the earlier things. It frustrates me though because it was more fun when I was a kid discovering Motown. Then, all I cared about was that it was a Motown record. Now, I can see I've gotten a lot more specific in what I like.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    I love "I'm In A Different World". Love everything about it. One of my fav Tops tunes.
    I don't know what it is RanRan but you say stuff and I am inclined to instantly change my opinions. I have a cousin like that. I always thought he just had that "coolness" thing going. If I hated spinach and he said he loved it, I suddenly loved it too! I always enjoy your comments because it's like you just calmly walk in, state your opinions, why you think this or that and with this air of "quiet authority". No drama, just common sense.
    Last edited by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance; 07-09-2021 at 07:55 PM.

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    Let's face it they "Holland-Dozier-Holland iarised" the Four Tops and it worked really well but that was only for a short time. The Tops were a 4 piece vocal harmony group before and after that H-D-H burst and [[just my opinion of course) I much prefer the smoother sound of the Tops. Thus "Ask The Lonely", "Do What You Gotta Do", "Walk Away Renee" and even "MacArthur Park" work better for me than many of their "classic" hits [[though I love them too). It's probably more to do with my getting in late on the Motown Sound because the classic period was over by 1970 and more diverse things were happening which I loved. Can't beat the sight of the Tops rocking to "It's The Same Old Song" etc though.

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    I've always loved "I'm In A Different World" from the first time I heard it on the "Yesterday's Dreams" LP. At the time, I had no idea that it would be HDH's last outing with the Four Tops AND with Motown. Strangely, I don't recall the single getting any airplay on our local AM radio station which had always promoted Motown fairly heavily throughout Motown's classic era. It's still beyond me how Motown let a surefire hit like "Your Love Is Wonderful" slip through their fingers yet felt compelled to include an annoying track like "The Sweetheart Tree" on the "Yesterday's Dreams" album.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Philles/Motown Gary View Post
    I've always loved "I'm In A Different World" from the first time I heard it on the "Yesterday's Dreams" LP. At the time, I had no idea that it would be HDH's last outing with the Four Tops AND with Motown. Strangely, I don't recall the single getting any airplay on our local AM radio station which had always promoted Motown fairly heavily throughout Motown's classic era. It's still beyond me how Motown let a surefire hit like "Your Love Is Wonderful" slip through their fingers yet felt compelled to include an annoying track like "The Sweetheart Tree" on the "Yesterday's Dreams" album.
    I did hear "I'm In A Different World" on my AM radio station [in NYC] a few times but it didn't really receive a lot of airplay like The Tops earlier hits did. And the excellent "Your Love Is Wonderful" got lost as the B-side of "Walk Away Renee" [also the song didn't even get released on an album until the Fourever box set & the Lost Without You-Lost & Found collection].

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    Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    I did hear "I'm In A Different World" on my AM radio station [in NYC] a few times but it didn't really receive a lot of airplay like The Tops earlier hits did. And the excellent "Your Love Is Wonderful" got lost as the B-side of "Walk Away Renee" [also the song didn't even get released on an album until the Fourever box set & the Lost Without You-Lost & Found collection].
    I know, Eddie. Such a waste!

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    A good song from the tops.

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by mysterysinger View Post
    Let's face it they "Holland-Dozier-Holland iarised" the Four Tops and it worked really well but that was only for a short time. The Tops were a 4 piece vocal harmony group before and after that H-D-H burst and [[just my opinion of course) I much prefer the smoother sound of the Tops. Thus "Ask The Lonely", "Do What You Gotta Do", "Walk Away Renee" and even "MacArthur Park" work better for me than many of their "classic" hits [[though I love them too). It's probably more to do with my getting in late on the Motown Sound because the classic period was over by 1970 and more diverse things were happening which I loved. Can't beat the sight of the Tops rocking to "It's The Same Old Song" etc though.
    You bring up a good point about the Four Tops being a 4 piece vocal group. One thing I noticed after awhile is that "Different World" and a lot of album tracks after the HDH years finally allowed us to HEAR the guys without the Andantes. In that regard, I do appreciate some of the album tracks on the Tops' later 60s albums. I also think the group benefited from going to ABC Dunhill in the 70s. Motown would have caused them to stagnate. ABC was like a rebirth. Something like "Are You Man Enough" probably would never have been done at Motown.

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    I did hear "I'm In A Different World" on my AM radio station [in NYC] a few times but it didn't really receive a lot of airplay like The Tops earlier hits did. And the excellent "Your Love Is Wonderful" got lost as the B-side of "Walk Away Renee" [also the song didn't even get released on an album until the Fourever box set & the Lost Without You-Lost & Found collection].
    OK. This is something that has COMPLETELY baffled me; why didn't ANYONE hear the commercial potential in "Your Love Is Wonderful"? I would have chosen that over "Yesterday's Dreams".

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    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    I'm now playing the Four Tops Yesterday's Dreams CD in the car when I go to work. "I'm In A Different World." What are your thoughts on this one? I've never, EVER been able to put my finger on what's up with this one. From the first time years and years [[and years) ago when I heard it, my 13 year old ears thought it sounded "tired" and sluggish. I recall my impressions vividly. I thought it sounded as if it was "trying" to be The Motown Sound but was getting bogged down with it's own production. I played it a lot, figuring I'd get into it eventually, but alas, it never clicked fully with me.

    Over time, I've come to "appreciate" it. That's a nice way of saying I'm still trying to get a handle on it. All these decades later, it still sounds kind of "tired" and sluggish. One thing, the drums have none of the life and power of most of the pre-68 Motown records. "Reach Out", "Shadows Of Love","Bernadette", and "7 Rooms" all had powerfull, earth-moving, crisp drum sounds. After that, stuff like "You Keep Running Away" and "Different World" had a newer kind of drum sound, but it sounded kinda dull to me in comparison to the earlier stuff.

    I don't know. What do you all think?
    This is my favorite 4 Tops song. Criminally underrated. I love how on the chorus the strings blend with Leviís voice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TomatoTom123 View Post
    I also love "Different World"… it is definitely different from what came before, but I think it’s a fantastic song… it just constantly keeps you interested. I’d put it alongside The Supremes' "Reflections" as an example of HDH's innovative late period update of the classic Motown sound
    I almost agree with you, Tom. I think the increased complexity in the song structure is more comparable with the Supremes' "Forever Came Today". I always think of those two songs together.

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    Personally for me I think it's the lyrics that don't do the song justice and makes it clunky. I've probably heard this song countless times and to this day I still don't know the lyrics. The song is wordy and lacks any sense of poetry or beauty, unlike earlier HDH songs by the group. All their other HDH work was catchy and memorable and easy to sing along to, but not I'm In A Different World. And is it just my ears or are the Andantes mix up more prominently than the other Four Tops? Truth be told, the background chorus is the best part of the song. Levi does a great job with what he had to work with lyrically.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    OK. This is something that has COMPLETELY baffled me; why didn't ANYONE hear the commercial potential in "Your Love Is Wonderful"? I would have chosen that over "Yesterday's Dreams".
    "Your Love is Wonderful" is indeed a spectacular, single worthy song. If I am correct, it was never even placed on what we call 'a regular album' as a filler song. T

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    It`s on an album I dreamed up called "Four Tops On Song" which in those dreams came before "Yesterday`s Dreams" !

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    I always liked IIADW and I can remember Record Mirror in the UK praising the song on its release.

    Looking at the comments above about the Yesterday's Dreams album, I would have overlooked the awful MOR songs and included Your Love Is Wonderful, Lonely Lover, You Keep Running Away and Oh I've Been Blessed.

    Sadly for me, the Yesterday's Dreams album has the same negative inclusion of MOR tracks like On Top had before it.

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    I love "Once upon a time".
    Different strokes and all that.

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    The Tops were great on the MOR stuff, that was their forte. I too love "Once Upon a Time"

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    Indeed...the Four Tops had always been a vocal harmony group.
    These MOR tracks kept their Professional Identity intact.

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    The Four Tops truly shine on "Once Upon A Time", as do their amazing harmonies.

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    I guess it depends if you like those MOR songs in the first place.

  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by snakepit View Post
    Indeed...the Four Tops had always been a vocal harmony group.
    These MOR tracks kept their Professional Identity intact.
    I don't mind hearing the Tops doing MOR. In fact, for me the On Top album surprised me in that I enjoy it. Oddly, its the MOR side that I listen to more often than the A side. The A side has good original material but it's always seemed "spotty" to me. Hearing canned material like "Lost For Words", "Whatcha Gonna Do", "It's Just A Lonely World Without Your Love", I just think there was stronger material that would have complemented the hit songs.

    Now side 2, those songs seem to form a more cohesive listening experience and they're well done.

    The same approach just doesn't work on the YD album. The 2 MOR numbers just seem like someone thought at the last minute, "let's just toss these in the mix too!" [[and don't get me started on "Daydream Believer."

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    As a five-year-old kid, I preferred the flipside "Remember When". As I got older I was surprised to learn that "I'm In A Different World" was the charted single.

    I know what you mean by the perceived sluggishness, though. But, I don't think it sounds any different from anything else Motown was releasing by 1968.

  42. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by soulster View Post
    As a five-year-old kid, I preferred the flipside "Remember When". As I got older I was surprised to learn that "I'm In A Different World" was the charted single.

    I know what you mean by the perceived sluggishness, though. But, I don't think it sounds any different from anything else Motown was releasing by 1968.
    "Remember When" is good song and actually I prefer that one as well. That one is the song I often play most when I listen to the album.

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