Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Four Tops: Greatest Hits Vol. 2 [Motown, 1971]
If Levi Stubbs is one of the definitive soul men, as some believe, then what he defines is the pitfalls of the style. He's a singer who's more interested in impressing the deacons (and their wives) than feeling the spirit--overripe, self-involved, and in the end pretentious. And this material is far from his best--stuck with the low-grade rock gentility of "Walk Away Renee" and "If I Were a Carpenter" and the sermonizing of "What Is Man" and "In These Changing Times," he's a typical victim of Motown's decadence. Despite some good rhythm tracks--they always seem to get good rhythm tracks out there--the only one of these songs you'll remember fondly is "Just Seven Numbers," a simple-minded throwaway about swallowing your pride and making that call. C+