I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)
|"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. Billboard ranked the record as the No. 2 song of 1965. It was also the Four Tops first Top 40 single in the UK, reaching #23 on its original release, and a 1970 reissue peaked at #10 in the UK charts.
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". Allmusic critic Ed Hogan claims that the song uses the same chords as The Supremes' 1964 hit "Where Did Our Love Go," also written by Holland-Dozier-Holland.
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 their #1 album, The Supremes A' Go-Go. 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).
The "Motorcity All-Stars" released a rerecorded version of song in 1989 on Ian Levine's Motown revival label Motorcity. The ensemble group was put together from as many former Motown singers as producer Levine could assemble. Levi Stubbs' brother Joe called Levi over to record the song, and both brothers feature on the track, along with singers Sammy Ward, Cal Gill of The Velvelettes, Carolyn Crawford and C.P. Spencer of The Originals, all of whom had previously recorded at Motown. Many other former Motown associates can be seen in the background of the accompanying video, including Berry Gordy's ex-wife Raynoma Gordy Singleton and former head of artist development Maxine Powell.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 212.
- "Four Tops charts". officialcharts.com. Retrieved 2014-03-16.
- Hogan, E. "I Can't Help Myself". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-03-15.
- "Four Tops – Piangono Gli Uomini / Bernadette (Vinyl)". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2014-11-28.
- 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.
- "Bonnie Pointer – I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)". Discogs.com. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
- Whitburn, Joel (2013). Hot Country Songs 1944–2012. Record Research, Inc. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-89820-203-8.
- "The Motorcity All-Stars* - I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) (Vinyl)". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2016-09-29.
"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