From Rolling Stone:
Like so many Motown hits, “Standing” features the bass of James Jamerson, possibly rock & roll’s most influential bassman. He was such a monster on his instrument, his fellow Motown musicians called him “Igor”; Marvin Gaye called him a genius.
If “Standing in the Shadows of Love” was the only song of its stature that Motown produced, it would make the company noteworthy; that it was one of many memorable, unforgettable, timeless blasts makes the company remarkable. Can’t get much colder than “standing in the shadows of love getting ready for the heartache come.” If you never had the feeling, pray you never will. The emotions conjure up a world of negativity, sleepless nights, and excessive indulgences; you relish going to work because the activity keeps your mind off the pain. It’s said Holland-Dozier-Holland gleamed ideas from the soaps; there must have been a real bawler on the day HDH’s bulb went off and inspired this one. Levi Stubbs sings the mournful words so intensely you think he’s on the verge of a breakdown. The public loved the November 1966 release that surprisingly didn’t ace either the R&B (number two) or the pop (number six) charts. Barry White, Joe Stubbs (Levi’s brother), Tommy Boyce, the Jackson 5, and others have interpreted the classic but none drive the stake in your heart like the Four Tops‘ amazing original