Four Tops Still Waters Run Deep

Four Tops – Still Waters Run Deep (Limited Edition Vinyl Review)

The voices on Motown recordings are some of the most legendary ever put to tape. Often dressed with a colorful array of different tones, many of the groups to dominate the early ‘60s scene were led by tenors, however, the Four Tops were a bit different. Built as a four group, leading the way was a Levi Stubbs; a baritone with a voice uniquely his own. Powerful, dramatic, and emotional, Stubbs, along with Renaldo “Obie” Benson, Lawrence Payton, and Abdul “Duke” Fakir made Four Tops a force to be reckoned with. In fact, shortly after joining on with Motown, the group would become one of the label’s biggest hitmakers; right next to others like The Temptations, The Supremes, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, among others.

Known for their massive list hits which reached the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 (with 7 of them reaching the top ten and 2 reaching number one on the chart), some of the biggest songs from the Four Tops would have to include 1964’s “Baby I Need Your Loving,” 1965’s “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” and “It’s the Same Old Song, ” plus 1966’s “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” just to name a few. Truly a magical run of success, by the time the late ‘60s arrived, times were changing… and so were the Four Tops. Expanding their horizons with each passing album, some would look to 1970’s Still Waters Run Deep as a significant turning point for the group.

The first of three albums the Four Tops put out in 1970, Still Waters Run Deep arrived in March of that year, and it served as a landmark in their illustrious history. First and foremost, Still Waters Run Deep is largely considered a major comeback for the group after a dip in their commercial success a few years prior. Returning them to the Top 40 on the Billboard album chart (a place it remained for 42 weeks, and peaking at #21), it also included the Top 30 hit “Still Water (Love).” Just one of the many highlights, as a whole, Still Waters Run Deep has a delightful mix of Soul, R&B, and Funk which features an engaging, energetic sound that immediately grabs your attention. Produced by longtime Norman Whitfield associate Frank Wilson (who had produced and co-written songs for everyone from The Supremes to The Temptations), Still Waters Run Deep offered a new wrinkle to the Four Tops’ story that only adds to their overall legacy.

Now over 54 years later, the album stands as arguably one of their best, and that is why it is exciting to learn that Elemental Music have reissued it to vinyl. Arriving on June 7, 2024 through Elemental Music as part of their year plus long Motown Collection releases, Still Waters Run Deep is pressed to a high quality 140-gram vinyl and matched with original artwork. Presented in stereo, the LP itself is standard black vinyl, and the sound quality is nothing less than stellar. Crisp, clean, and exceptionally bright, you have a chance to dig into these 10 tracks that meld together so perfectly. Yes, you have “Still Water (Love)” (co-written by Smokey Robinson and Frank Wilson), but you also have other outstanding covers like “Reflections” (originally recorded by The Supremes), Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talking,” plus “It’s All in the Game” (originally a hit with Tommy Edwards in 1958). Just naming a few, you also cannot overlook the magic of songs like “Love Is The Answer” and “Bring Me Together.”

 In all, Still Waters Run Deep is a Four Tops album that deserves broad recognition. Not only did it spell new success for them, but it is also considered as the inspiration for Marvin Gaye’s career defining 1971 album What’s Going On. Really quite historic, if you are interested in other Four Tops reissues, in 2022 Elemental Music also put out reissue vinyl of the 1965 Second Album, in 2023 their 1967 album Reach Out, and come November 15, 2024 they will unveil the Four Tops’ 1965 self-titled debut album in mono. A great time to be a Four Tops fan, and one that will perhaps inspire a new generation of listeners, Cryptic Rock gives the reissued vinyl pressing of Still Waters Run Deep 5 out of 5 stars. 

Four Tops Still Waters Run Deep
Four Tops – Still Waters Run Deep / Elemental Music (2024)

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