These days you just don't have too many pop songs that attempt to tell a story or really get deep into an issue and explore it throughout the course of the three minute duration. The two songs we have here are both soul tunes from 1970 give or take a year and deal with some pretty serious subject matter, taking some pages from the Psychology 101 textbooks to explain themselves. The Four Tops get pretty deep in their analysis of personality development from generation to generation. For all you parents out there, listen attentively. Reggie Milner uses a concept that I wouldn't think of as being a household term, "habit-forming", and writes a love song using this idea to explain his attachment to the lady in question. Heavy stuff.
The Four Tops - My Past Just Crossed My Future
This first song by the Four Tops was one that picked up when I was in Portland over the holidays, but I had it on hold with a whole bunch of other joints that I was waiting to records from vinyl. It's a monster, let me tell you! The beat starts and doesn't stop for the full length of the song. There's kind of a chorus, where the song title is passionately delivered by the lead singer (any idea which "Top" this is?), but all the while the rhythm section just keeps on cooking. I couldn't find any references to this song being sampled, but that beat is begging for it. It might be because those tops never stop singing leaving no open drums from which to cop.
Fun fact: Levi Stubbs provided the voice for Audrey the man-eating plant in the film version of Little Shop of Horrors.
If you're interested, you can find a copy of the LP here.
Reggie Milner - Habit Forming Love
I found this promo-only 45 in Pennsylvania a couple of summers ago. It was white-label and on Volt, so I said what the heck. The groove on this is almost more reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield's Chicago-style soul arrangements than it is of something that probably came out of Memphis (the home of Stax/Volt). I can't seem to find anything else out about Mr. Milner except that he has only released a handful of singles in his career, another of which was included on the same Stax/Volt box set.
I like how close to the fade-out Reggie pleads with desperation in his voice that he's "got to be a part of this un-hooked generation." It's like Reggie sat down and read a Time magazine article about current thoughts in American pyschology and used his favorite buzz words in this pop-soul gem. Could be . . .
You can find this track on The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles, Volume 2 (1969-1971).