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Interview:
Motown Legends Hope To Top Their Past
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

The Four Tops have enough hits to coast, touring and singing the oldies all year long.

But when it comes to making new music, the Motown legends, as the song says, can’t help themselves.

“I really like the way the new group sounds,”

Abdul “Duke” Fakir,

the lone founding member left, says of a lineup that includes

Lawrence “Roquel” Payton Jr., former Temptations frontman Theo Peoples and Ronnie McNair.

“The guys are really committed to the Four Tops legacy, and they’re sounding really good.

“I’d like these new guys to feel what it’s like to be world-renowned at the moment in the recording world. It’s very exciting, and it’d be a joy for me to see them get to experience that.”

The Tops recently released a single, “East Coast, West Coast,” on the Jenny Jenny Records label owned by Little Richard’s goddaughter Jenice Smith. The song was written and originally recorded by fellow Detroit R&B artist Paul Hill, best known for his work with George Clinton’s P-Funk All Stars.

Fakir, 71, says the group plans to come with a couple of singles — including a planned duet with Aretha Franklin called “If We Can’t Be Lovers, Let’s Be Friends,” before releasing a new album, probably in 2008.

“It’s planned (like an) old-time kind of release where we do one single, then two singles, then the album,” Fakir explains. “We would like to get a lot of momentum on singles, ’cause people are buying singles digitally now, and we want to create something before we just put an album out there.”

The rest of the album, according to Fakir, will mine the same kind of pop/R&B blend that brought the Tops fame at Motown.

“We’re aware of what our real demographics are,” Fakir says. “We’re an R&B classified group, but our audience really is 75 percent on the pop side and always has been. We intend to probably stay that way.”

Fakir hopes that a Tops album in 2008 will generate enough excitement to bring out a couple of other Tops projects. The group recorded an entire album with Norman Whitfield that hasn’t found a label deal yet, and it also did a limited release of a set of standards, “Goin’ Home ’Round Midnight,” last year.



The Four Tops perform with the Temptations at 7:30 p.m. Friday (August 17th) at DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road north of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $26.50 pavilion, $10 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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