Friday, June 18, 2004 | 8:32 a.m.
Don't count out the old-timers.
The new generation of singers can take lessons from two of the most popular groups from the '60s - the Temptations and the Four Tops, who will share a bill at the Stardust through Saturday.
Age may be taking its toll, but the Motown legends can still put on a moving show, able to excite an audience with their still-powerful vocal renditions and heartfelt lyrics.
The only complaint is the pairing of two giants, who have to share the limelight - and the time, which means they canUt even scratch the surface of their prodigious number of hits.
And there isnUt nearly enough time for these two personable groups to interact with their legions of fans who all but filled the 1,000-seat Wayne Newton Theater earlier this week.
It's all they can do to jump from hit to hit, packing the evening with memorable songs.
At just about two hours, the production was a little long for a few people, who began leaving before the last classic song was performed.
But that was not a comment on the show itself.
When two Rock and Roll Hall of Fame groups get together, there are bound to be some great nostalgic moments.
First up were the Temptations, one of Motown's most versatile groups, which began to make its mark in the early '60s when its members included Eldridge Bryant, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin and Otis Williams.
Otis Williams, founder of the Temptations, is the last member of the group that can trace his roots back to the beginning, in 1961.
The quintet (elected to the hall of fame in 1989) didn't light any fires until 1964, when David Ruffin replaced Bryant, and Smokey Robinson began writing songs for the group. Robinson wrote and produced most of their mid-'60s hits, including "The Way You Do The Things You Do" and "My Girl," which was No. 1 in 1965 and is one of the group's signature songs.
Keeping the tradition of the Temptations alive are Williams, Ron Tyson, Terry Weeks, G.C. Cameron and Joe Herndon.
Although they performed a few of their lesser-known songs, they didn't neglect the classics -- "My Girl," "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" (No. 1 in 1972), "Since I Lost My Baby," "Just My Imagination" and "I Wish it Would Rain."
After an hour, the Four Tops took center stage.
The quartet is the older of the two groups, and the better at harmonizing.
The Four Tops united in 1954 but didn't take their name until '59, when they started to make some inroads into the recording business.
The original members of the group, which was elected to the hall of fame in 1990, include Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Renaldo "Obie" Benson, Levi Stubbs and Lawrence Payton.
Stubbs is ill and no longer with the group. Payton died of liver cancer in 1997. The Four Tops dedicate all of their performances to the memory of Payton.
Filling out the group now are Theo Peoples, a former member of the Temptations, and Ronnie McNeir.
They led off their portion of the evening with "McArthur Park" and quickly segued into some of their most memorable hits, "Baby I Need Your Lovin,' " "Bernadette" (No. 4 in '67), "Same Old Song," "Walk Away Renee" and many others that they managed to squeeze into a little less than an hour.
Although the Four Tops and the Temptations may be past their prime, their post-prime talent is better than many of the young performers who are at the top of their game.