One really wants to love this imported two-CD set, and there is some good reason to -- but not as much as there should be. Until its release, listeners could reasonably have despaired of ever seeing much more of the Four Tops' legacy in print in digital audio; Motown Records was seemingly content recycling the same hits over and over, while the box set on the group's history, reportedly prepared back in 1997, waited several years to be released. The Singles+ isn't that, but it is the most comprehensive look at the group's 45s yet to show up; and, because of MCA-Universal's acquisition of various other labels over the years, it was possible to gather the group's entire output from 1964 through 1988 together in one place. The mid-priced set uses state-of-the-art masters, so that Levi Stubbs sounds like he's in the same room with the listener, his every breath vivid on "Baby I Need Your Lovin'." The rub, alas (and it is a big one) is that the producers have used the stereo masters throughout -- on the post-1966 material, this isn't an issue, but on the early singles, it's a trade-off situation. Those 1964-1966 cuts lack some portion of their original rhythmic punch, but show a very clear picture of how deceptively busy their arrangements were. Most of the time the exchange works, but not on every song -- on "I Can't Help Myself," the isolation of the drums and tambourine on the right-hand channel is distracting, and the sax break seems muted where it should be thick and hard; on the other hand, the electric guitar and saxes that open "Something About You" are in your lap, and the division of the voices makes it possible to appreciate the workmanship of the quartet's performances. By "Shake Me, Wake Me," there's no impact lost at all, and the stereo is a virtue -- during "Reach Out," however, one wants to re-combine the two channels in order to eliminate the distracting separation of the chorus and the lead vocal. From 1967 onward (starting with "Bernadette," when stereo recording became standard), all of the voices and instruments are in balance and sound as they should. Among the rarities included on this set are two of the group's most unexpected recordings -- surrounding the exquisitely soaring soul shouter "(It's the Way) Nature Planned It" are "A Simple Game" and "So Deep Within You," two songs authored by Mike Pinder of the Moody Blues and produced by the latter group's recording manager, Tony Clarke. The Dunhill and ABC recordings, done under the aegis of co-producer Steve Barri, also fare very nicely, and there's plenty of good music, charted and otherwise, to keep fans busy luxuriating for hours. The annotation could be stronger, but in compensation, we get each song's original release and chart history. And even with its flaws, this set is more interesting than anything to come out on the Four Tops in America in the last several years.