The Detroit quartet’s cancelled Motown album released at last – with 13 bonus tracks, many previously unissued.
Lovers of Detroit soul have long rhapsodised about the Fantastic Four, one of the Motor City’s most admired vocal groups of the 60s and 70s. They originally came to prominence at Ric Tic Records, Motown’s main 60s rival in Detroit. When they came over to Motown while their last Ric Tic hit was scaling the charts, bigger things looked set to follow. Sadly they did not, and after two years in which the quartet recorded at least 30 sides and released just three non-charting 45s, their career at Motown was over.
The group did come very close to having an album release on Motown’s Soul imprint – to the point where a master tape was sent to the pressing plant before the plug was pulled. Our collection takes that unissued album as its jumping off point, and adds another 13 sides that in most cases have stayed in tape vaults for more than 40 years. The cancelled “How Sweet He Is” album – a title that implies Motown were more interested in lead singer “Sweet” James Epps as a solo artist than the whole group – is presented in the intended original running order, with all the tracks that also appeared on 45 appearing here in stereo for the first time.
The group worked with some of Motown’s best staff producers of the period. Given the right circumstances, almost everything they recorded could have been hits to match those the company was having with such groups as the Originals, the Undisputed Truth and the Temptations. Unfortunately for the Fantastic Four, it would not be until they moved to Westbound Records that they were able to rekindle the chart flame that had burned through their Ric Tic years.
Since we began our programme of Motown releases, the Fantastic Four has been among the most requested acts we’ve been asked to feature. The 25 tracks here – more than half of which have never been heard anywhere prior to this CD – should delight everyone who has hoped for this package to happen.