It was 1966 when lead singer Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops belted out the original version of Reach Out, Iíll be There, reaching No. 1 in the RnB charts in the process. And deservedly so, because this Motown gem is widely regarded as one of the best songs ever recorded. So much so that itís attracted a variety of cover versions, including everything from disco (Gloria Gaynor) to punk (Snuff), from psych (Merrilee Rush) to new romantic (Human League). Thatís all very well, but in my considered opinion the BEST cover version has to be that from little-known soul singer & guitarist Lee Moses.
The problem with a cover version arises from its contradictory nature. The song itself has already been created, so how to create something thatís the essentially the same, but different? And then how to make it distinctive, and better? One way is to choose a different style, such as the punk/disco/psych versions mentioned above. Back in 1967 Lee Moses did just that Ė and he chose RAW, HEAVY FUNK as his theme. And wow did he succeed! Itís easy to make a mess of a cover because comparisons are always going to be made with the Ďsuperiorí original. But I think itís fair to say here that Moses blows the Four Tops into orbit. He rips the Beatles to shreds too, check Day Tripper on the flip for a mind-blowing example of how to put some passion and soul into what was essentially a plod-along pop song. If you want to hear how to do a cover version, take a lead from Lee Moses Ė put some fire, soul, heat n guts into it, and do it better!