|"I Can't Help Myself |
(Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)"
File:I Can't Help Myself label.jpeg|
|Single by Four Tops|
|from the album Four Tops' Second Album|
April 23, 1965|
Hitsville U.S.A. (Studio A); 1965|
Brian Holland |
|Four Tops singles chronology|
"I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" is a 1965 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. 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.
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.
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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).
This song was covered by The Mystics (Hong Kong pop group) on their 1967 album The Best Of The Mystics.
Donnie Elbert hit #22 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972 with his cover of this song, which was a follow-up to his cover of the Supremes' "Where Did Our Love Go."
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".
A cover by American country music group Billy Hill peaked at number 58 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in 1989.
Australian girl group Teen Queens released a version in 1992 for their second single, where it peaked at #28 on the ARIA Singles Chart.
American musicologist Taj Mahal released this as a bonus CD track on his 1993 album Dancing the Blues.
Indigenous Australian R&B and pop singer, Jessica Mauboy performed a cover in 2012.