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|
|Producer(s)||Brian Holland |
|Four Tops singles chronology|
Written and produced by Motown's main production team Holland–Dozier–Holland, "I Can't Help Myself" is one of the most well-known Motown recordings of the 1960s and among the decade's biggest hits. The single reached number one on Billboard's R&B chart and also peaked at number one on the 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. It was first unseated at number one by "Mr. Tambourine Man" by The Byrds, then regained the top spot before being replaced by the Rolling Stones' blockbuster hit "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". Billboard ranked the record as the second biggest single of 1965. "I Can't Help Myself" was the Four Tops' first Top 40 single in the UK, peaking at 23 in the summer of 1965, then reaching 10 on its spring 1970 re-release.
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." The melodic and chordal progressions are very similar to the Supremes' 1964 hit "Where Did Our Love Go," also written by Holland-Dozier-Holland. According to Allmusic critic Ed Hogan, the title "I Can't Help Myself" is an oblique acknowledgment by Dozier that he could not resist recycling his previous hit. The bracketed title 'Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch' appears only on certain oldie reissues of the single.
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.
- "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved 5 September 2018.
- 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.