Reach Out I'll Be There
"Reach Out I'll Be There" (also formatted as "Reach Out (I'll Be There)") is a 1966 hit song recorded by the Four Tops for the Motown label. Written and produced by Motown's main production team Holland–Dozier–Holland, the song is one of the most well-known Motown tunes of the 1960s and is today considered The Tops' signature song. It was the number one song on the R&B charts for two weeks, and on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks, from September 24, 1966 to October 15. It replaced "Cherish" by The Association, and was itself replaced by "96 Tears" by Question Mark & the Mysterians. Rolling Stone later ranked this version #206 on their list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. This version is also currently ranked as the 45th best song of all time, as well as the #3 song of 1966, in an aggregation of critics' lists at acclaimedmusic.net.
The track also reached #1 in the UK Singles Chart, becoming Motown's second UK chart-topper after The Supremes hit #1 with "Baby Love" in late 1964. It had replaced Jim Reeves' Distant Drums at number one in October 1966 and stayed there for three weeks before being replaced by The Beach Boys' Good Vibrations in November.
Lead singer Levi Stubbs delivers many of the lines in the song in a tone that straddles the line between singing and shouting, like he did in 1965's "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)". Allmusic critic Ed Hogan praises Stubb's vocal, as well as the song's "rock-solid groove" and "dramatic, semi-operatic tension and release." Critic Martin Charles Strong calls the song "a soul symphony of epic proportions that remains [the Four Tops'] signature tune."
This song differs markedly from the Four Tops' earlier efforts, due to the highly-contrasting shifts between minor and major, and also major and augmented chords. These contrasting tonal shades form the hook for which the song is so well known. The Four Tops would rely on this formula for several subsequent releases.
- Lead vocals by Levi Stubbs
- Background vocals by Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Renaldo "Obie" Benson, Lawrence Payton, and The Andantes: Jackie Hicks, Marlene Barrow, and Louvain Demps
- Instrumentation by The Funk Brothers
- Written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Edward Holland, Jr.
- Produced by Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier