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  1. #1
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    Four Tops Nature Planned It lp revisited

    I have always liked this lp since I bought it in 1972, but this past week after a long absence I took out the CD and listened to it from start to finish. This is an astoundingly good album by the group and the last in the Frank Wilson trilogy.

    Wilson brought the group back from the doldrums in 1970 with the Still Waters Run Deep album. FM radio embraced it. While Motown was preoccupied with launching the Jackson 5 and Diana Ross, they paid little attention to the Tops who had been flapping around for over two years. But FM radio saw the quality in this album and featured it which resulted in massive sales. From it came two Top 40 hits, something the group had been denied for over two years.

    Changing Times followed, a little too soon actually. It too was a good lp but seems rushed in comparison to Still Water and Nature Planned It.

    On Nature Planned It two singles were issued with no success, but the album has several potential hit records, the most obvious being Walk With Me, Talk With Me Darling. This was pure Motown. You Gotta Forget Him and I'll Never Change also had hit potential. Instead Motown put out an edited I Can't Quit Your Love, a danceable tune with no real hook. Later they remixed the title song and issued it as a single and it made a little noise on the soul charts.

    The title track is lush and poignant, much like the Supremes Touch track from the prior year. The remix could have used a better balance, the piano work is a bit jarring and the strings are too laid back. It is still a gorgeous song sung with the typical Levi Stubbs pain. Should have done better.

    The group even revisited The Supremes' Happy [[Is A Bumpy Road), also from the touch album, giving it more of a sublime reading. It works all the same.

    The album was issued in early 1972 and floundered at the bottom of the Billboard Top 200 albums. When Motown learned that the group had signed with Dunhill, then reissued it with the title track remix as a single in an effort to thwart their first Dunhill lp. The album did much better and sold well in it's second issue. But it had no effect on the Tops Dunhill debut, which yielded two gold singles.

    Also Rolling Stone gave this lp a stellar revue. Although they proclaimed this was the Four Tops best album, I can't go along with that. I'd have to name either Reach Out or Second Album for that honor. But it is probably the best of the Frank Wilson trilogy with a generous amount of music, nearly 40 minutes when Motown albums barely ran 30 minutes. It was also one of the last recorded in Detroit with the Funk Brothers. They are in their element here along with typical excellent backing support by the Andantes. All four gentlemen have a verse here and there.

    If you haven't heard this album, it's a must-hear from Motown's prime period of music production.

    I was working with Martha Reeves in 1995 in Biloxi when she opened for the group. I met all of them and got Levi and Duke to sign the CD I just spoke of. When I told Levi how much I loved that album he replied, "this is good stuff isn't it?" Indeed it was Mr. Stubbs. RIP

  2. #2
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    Great post.

    It's been released 4 times on CD that I know of - well worth obtaining even on digital download.

    MCD08046MD 2fer with "Keeper Of The Castle" - 1987
    MOTD-5446 - 1990[[?)
    3746354462 - 1992[[?)
    Elemental Music - 88526 - 2017

  3. #3
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    In the UK, Walk With Me was issued as a single, reaching no 32. Once again, Motown UK hit the nail on the head!

    https://youtu.be/eUyQ2t67WF4?feature=shared
    Last edited by rovereab; 02-24-2024 at 05:38 PM.

  4. #4
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    And Bobby Taylor did the Philly with his version of "I Can't Quit Your Love" on Thom Bell's Tommy label [[the EPIC label in the UK). There was also an instrumental version of this on Philadelphia International and there's a great [[but lengthy) Tom Moulton mix available on YouTube too. But here's Bobby at his best ......

  5. #5
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    ...the 2 outstanding tracks on this LP ...IMHO ...are...



    ...and...



    Grape

  6. #6
    Wasn't this the first album to give credits to the musicians?
    I bought the album in the late 70's and the CD last year. Always loved this album.

  7. #7
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    Stax ...I believe Marvin Gaye's What's Going On LP from 1971 was the first Motown album to list musician credits...!

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    Grape

  8. #8
    Thought I'd read that but stand corrected. Many thanks.

  9. #9
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    "If You Let Me" is a standout track for me that could have done really well as a single, but I doubt Motown would have released a single with Lawrence on lead.

    "It's The Way Nature Planned It" is one of my favorite Four Tops songs. I love it to pieces, but there isn't a definitive mix of it. The mono single comes closest as it contains all the elements, but the balance of the track isn't right. For some reason the stereo mix on the album has certain instruments and vocals muted and oddly edited. As someone said, the strings are too low in the mix and needed really to be bumped up. You can hear them toward the song and it's heavenly. I just wish they were louder. This song really deserves a new stereo mix.

  10. #10
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    I was happy to play "you've got to forget him Darling" following a request from Soulwally on my " That Motown Sound" radio show. I'm sure it went down well.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bradsupremes View Post
    "If You Let Me" is a standout track for me that could have done really well as a single, but I doubt Motown would have released a single with Lawrence on lead.

    "It's The Way Nature Planned It" is one of my favorite Four Tops songs. I love it to pieces, but there isn't a definitive mix of it. The mono single comes closest as it contains all the elements, but the balance of the track isn't right. For some reason the stereo mix on the album has certain instruments and vocals muted and oddly edited. As someone said, the strings are too low in the mix and needed really to be bumped up. You can hear them toward the song and it's heavenly. I just wish they were louder. This song really deserves a new stereo mix.
    I agree about If You Let Me, but Frank Wilson issued it on Eddie Kendricks instead. I totally agree about the muddy mix of both versions of Nature Planned It. It's a gorgeous song, similar to Supremes Touch, but the mix is a mess. BTW, Nature Planned It was the first Four Tops single commercially released in stereo.

  12. #12
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    IMO the best track on the album is Hey Man/We Got To Get You A Woman followed by Walk With Me, Talk With Me. The rest of album is mostly forgettable. Also Jimmy Ruffin got the first release of If You Let Me in October 1969 title If You Will Let Me, I Know I Can. It was on his Groove Governor album released September 1970.

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