DETROIT (AP) — An Australian pop quartet’s music really got a hold of Smokey Robinson.
Motown Records’ signature vocalist loved Human Nature’s take on the legendary label’s standards so much that he signed on as the group’s official presenter and helped facilitate a lengthy run for it in Las Vegas.
Now, the group is heading out for its first U.S. tour, which starts Saturday in — where else — Detroit.
Human Nature (brothers Andrew and Mike Tierney and fellow high school classmates Phil Burton and Toby Allen) have released nine albums, five of which went to No. 1 in their native country.
They’ve opened for Celine Dion and Michael Jackson in Europe and Australia and performed the national anthem at the Summer Olympic Games in their home city of Sydney in 2000.
But it was their 2005 Motown tribute, “Reach Out,” that attracted Robinson’s attention.
“They came to the studio one night in Los Angeles … and sang for me a cappella with no music — just them singing — and blew me away, man. Just awesome,” the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “I am so enamored with them.”
The group’s 10-city tour will take them through Washington, New York, Chicago and Boston.
The music of Motown enjoyed its heyday nearly a half-century ago but has been embraced by generations of listeners drawn to its timelessness.
So, what could these guys possibly bring to the music that hasn’t been done better by Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and company?
“They have put their own touch on (the songs),” Robinson said. “They sing the Motown music, but they do it like Human Nature does it.”
For their part, Human Nature simply loves singing the songs.
“Why should people listen to four white Australians sing these songs when they’re ubiquitous on radio and TV?” Andrew Tierney said. “It just shows that this music is written for everybody and that it has reached to every corner of the globe, including Australia. And it’s still influencing people, just as it touched us.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.