Motown Monthly #2
How good a song is this? The urgency is immediate, you get a sense of it from the title alone. This isn't someone dreaming, wishing, wanting or longing for a love. This is someone needing it, someone who has got to have it all.
I've always loved this song but it took on a whole new meaning for me when I heard it at the Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom at the annual Barraloadasoul event a couple of years ago. It came blasting out of the speakers in mid-evening after an impassioned intro from the DJ. He raised his hands in the air singing a-long and the crowd responded accordingly.
Research has just told me that this is in fact the debut single by The Four Tops. In that case it is surely one of the best debut singles of all time!
It is a Holland-Dozier-Holland special and the group formed a special affinity with the master songwriters thanks to their love of lead singer Levi Stubbs incredible vocal range. They deliberately wrote for him to push his vocals to the extreme and between 1964-1967 they crafted gems like Reach Out I'll Be There, Bernadette and Standing In The Shadows Of Love.
In under 3-minutes H-D-H create the ultimate plea for love. This song has everything, the musicianship is impeccable and it turns out that H-D-H had the music before the words. And oh what words, simple but devastatingly effective. And oh with those lead vocals and the sensational backing vocals.... the impact is quite incredible.
Just listen to the oooh backing vocals during the last verse that then change to i need you and i want you baby. And when the four voices combine it just sounds so soulful and sublime.
Lonely nights echo your name
Oh sometimes I wonder
Will I ever be the same
You know things have gotten worse
Any smile you might see has all been rehearsed
Darling I can't go on without you
This emptiness won't let me live without you
This loneliness inside darling
Makes me feel half alive
Baby I need your lovin'
Got to have all your lovin'
Saw them in Edinburgh nearly 30 years ago on the Loco In Acapulco tour. Levi Stubbs' voice is incredible. I didn't know "Baby I Need Your Loving" was their debut single for Motown. As you say - definitely a contender for one of the best debut singles of all time.
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