One of the best things about listening to an isolated or instrumental track of a hit is hearing how intricately designed the arrangement is. Such is the case with The Four Tops version of “Baby, I Need Your Lovin,'” played by the Motown studio band The Funk Brothers. There’s a lot going on within the track that you don’t hear until the lead vocal is muted, as you’ll hear below. Here’s what to listen for.
1. The dynamics of the track are outstanding. Listen to how the band backs off the intensity during the verses. Sometimes this is done by just eliminating some arrangement elements (which also happens here), but in this case you can actually feel the band holding back a little to leave room for the vocal. It’s a classic example of how it’s done.
2. Listen to how important the finger snaps are, as they act as the backbone of the song. This is actually brilliant in that they replace the snare with a softer sound that better fits the arrangement.
3. Take notice how the brass provides a quiet counterpoint to the guitar on the right side during the verse.
4. The song was cut in the early days of stereo, so the panning is interesting. The drums, bass and piano are on the left side, while the guitar, horns and strings are on the right.
5. This is one of the few Motown songs where the bass isn’t featured. In fact, it blends into the track so well that the notes are difficult to distinguish. It also sounds like an upright rather than the standard Precision bass used on most of the label’s hits.
6. The band is made up of the best jazz players in Detroit, but yet they play ver disciplined parts, which isn’t easy for fluid players with a lot of technique. Like The Wrecking Crew from LA, these guys knew how to make a track work.
It’s always a pleasure to hear an instrumental track of a big hit, and “Baby, I Need Your Lovin'” is no exception. We get an X-ray view inside a great arrangement.