I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)
|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (January 2009)|
|"I Can't Help Myself
(Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)"
|Single by Four Tops|
|from the album Four Tops' Second Album|
|Released||April 23, 1965|
|Recorded||Hitsville U.S.A. (Studio A); 1965|
|Four Tops singles chronology|
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. The song reached number one on the R&B charts and was also the number-one song on the Billboard Hot 100 for two non-consecutive weeks, from June 12 to June 19 and from June 26 to July 3 in 1965. It replaced "Back in My Arms Again" by labelmates The Supremes, was first replaced by "Mr. Tambourine Man" by The Byrds, then regained the top spot before being replaced by "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones.
The song finds lead singer Levi Stubbs, assisted by the other three Tops and The Andantes, pleadingly professing his love to a woman: "Sugar pie, honey bunch/I'm weaker than a man should be!/Can't help myself/I'm a fool in love, you see." Like most of his lead parts, Stubbs' vocals are recorded in a tone that straddles the line between singing and shouting, similar to the tone of a black Baptist preacher. The melodic and chordal progressions are very similar to the Supremes' "Where Did Our Love Go".
Rolling Stone magazine ranked the song #415 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It has been covered extensively since 1965, including versions done for several television commercials.
- 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 and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (strings)
- Written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Edward Holland, Jr.
- Produced by Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier
The Supremes recorded a cover of this song between 1965 and 1966, released on the their #1 album, The Supremes A' Go-Go. It is notable that their backing band, The Funk Brothers, was also the Four Tops' backing band at the time and was composed of most, if not all, of the same musicians as the original #1 single. In 1967, the Four Tops themselves recorded a special Italian language version, entitled Piangono gli uomini (The men cry).
In 1980, Bonnie Pointer had a Disco crossover hit, with the song peaking at #40 on the pop singles chart, #42 on the soul singles chart,. and #4 on the dance charts. Also, Madonna has covered the song during her Who's That Girl World Tour tour in 1987 as an extra part of her hit Like a Virgin.
Australian girl group, Teen Queens, released a version in 1992 for their second single, where it peaked at #28 on the ARIA Singles Chart.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 212.
- Whitburn, Joel (2010). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. Billboard Books. p. 212..
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 464.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 205.
- Whitburn, Joel (2013). Hot Country Songs 1944–2012. Record Research, Inc. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-89820-203-8.
"Back in My Arms Again" by The Supremes
|Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
June 19, 1965 – July 3, 1965
"Mr. Tambourine Man" by The Byrds
|Billboard Hot R&B Singles number-one single
June 5, 1965 – July 31, 1965
"In the Midnight Hour" by Wilson Pickett