“Are You Man Enough?” by The Four Tops (1973)

Here’s a song I discovered not through its original run on black radio (I wasn’t born yet) or through its use in the blaxploitation flick Shaft In Africa (a movie I still haven’t seen, sadly.) I discovered it through its ironic use in the Judd Apatow comedy Superbad; a movie I enjoyed so much I paid to see it in the theaters twice and have probably seen a good two or three times at home since. I don’t believe Shazam existed when Superbad came out, and it didn’t need to. The hook buries itself far enough into your head that you’re gonna remember the title, and Levi Stubbs’ voice is unmistakable.

Not a huge Tops fan, but I have a ton of request for the power of Levi’s voice. Here, it’s used for something other than begging, and I think that’s another part of the reason “Are You Man Enough?” hits me so hard. It’s atypical, but perfect. Come to think of it, this might be my all-time favorite Four Tops song. Thanks Judd Apatow, Jonah Hill and Michael Cera for introducing me to it.

NOT QUITE FIVE STARS…

“Are You Lonely?” by LaBelle (1974): A typically swampy Allen Toussaint funk production, featuring a wailing Patti, Nona and Sarah. They keep asking if you’re not only lonely, but if you’re hungry. I get the feeling that Patti’s Pies is going to take on a whole new meaning here.

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