Archie Bell and the Drells


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1967-68)

- Archie Bell -- lead vocals

- Huey 'Billy' Butler -- vocals 

- Joseph Cross -- vocals 

- James Wise -- vocals 

   

  line up 2 (1968-69)

- Archie Bell -- lead vocals 

NEW - Willie Pernell -- vocals (replaced Joseph Cross)

NEW- Mark Putney -- vocals

- James Wise -- vocals 

 

  line up 3 (1969-78)

- Archie Bell -- lead vocals

NEW - Lee Bell -- vocals (replaced Huey Butler)

- Willie Pernell -- vocals

- James Wise -- vocals 

 

  line up 3 (1978)

- Archie Bell -- lead vocals

- Lee Bell -- vocals

NEW - Lucious Von Haskins -- vocals 

- James Wise -- vocals 

 

 

i

- The Fantastics (Willie Pernell)

 

 


 

Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Tighten Up

Company: Atlantic

Catalog: SD 8226

Year: 1967

Country/State: Henderson, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5779

Price: $30.00

 

l.

 

"There's Gonna Be a Showdown" track listing:
(side 1)

1.)  

 

(side 2)

1.) 

 

'Hi everybody! I'm Archie Bell of the Drells�from Houston
' we not only can sing�but we dance as good as we want!'
That famous intro became a staple in the musical minds of
millions of soul fans around the world.

Archie Bell was born on Sept 1,1944 in a small town in Texas
called Henderson. He started singing in church at the tender
age of five and played guitar for a gospel group called, The
Determined Sons, at thirteen. His brother Rickey Bell, attended
The University of Southern California and played with the Tampa
Bay Buccaneers.

His early influences were Nat 'King' Cole, Ray Charles, Jesse
Belvin, Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers and the Platters. He
started as a professional singer at various nightclubs in Houston
and worked with great R&B legends such as the late Johnny Ace
and Bobby Blue' Bland.

Archie attended E.O. Smith Junior High School, in Houston. There
he met James Wise, Willie Pernell, Cornelius Fuller, L.C. Watts and
Gerald Watkins, at the age of 11 and formed the Drells. To avoid
confusion with the popular R&B group, the Dells, Archie added an
'r' in front of the 'D' and christened the name, ' Drells'. Archie's full
name was in front because he was the lead singer.

In early 1960, the Drells became a quartet with the line up of Billy
Butler (no relation to the singer Jerry Butler), James Wise, and
Joe Cross. Six years later in 1966, they met dee jay / record
entrepreneur and mailman, Skipper Lee Frazier at a talent show
at a club in Le Porte, Texas called Seven Beach.

After the show, Skipper Lee met with the group backstage and
asked them if they wanted to cut a record. The group affirmed,
'Yes'. After a handshake deal was made, Skipper took the Drells
to his record label East-West and recorded a tune Archie penned
entitled, ' She's My Woman, She's My Girl' in 1966. It made some
noise locally but couldn't gain any national attention.

Skipper Lee re-released the song on his new established 'Ovide'
label named after his son, James 'Ovide' Frazier, in 1967.
'She's My Woman, She's My Girl' became a regional hit and
was No 31 on Chicago's WBEE 1570 AM Radio (The Soul Station)
on the Bee Line Up play list, effective Thursday August 31.

As the Drells indulged into the music business, Archie received a
letter from Uncle Sam to be drafted into the Army. He worried that
after basic training he would end up being flown to Vietnam. One
day while lying on the couch, in a depressed state of mind, the
radio was playing and his roommate Billy Butler came in and heard
the music and started doing this dance. Archie asked ' what
are you doing?' Billy quoted, ' I'm doing the Tighten Up!'
Archie quickly cheered up and was inspired to compose a tune
about the dance. Billy and Archie collaborated on the song and
knew they had a hit on their hands. They contacted Skipper
Lee (who by now was their manager) and asked him to book
studio time. The 'Ovide' house band was a group of talented
musicians from the Texas State University who called themselves
The T.S.U Toronadoes. The group consisted of brothers Cal & Will
Thomas, (both lead guitars), Jerry Jenkins (on bass), Dwight Burns
(on drums), Robert Sanders (on organ) and Clarence Harper, Nelson
Mills and Leroy Lewis were the brass section. An Oldsmobile car
inspired the Toronadoes' name. The group released a classic 1969
instrumental on Atlantic entitled, 'Getting The Corners' b/w
'What Good Am I', capitalizing on the popular dance at the time,
the Funky Four Corners. If you listen to the song, 'Jammin' In
Houston', third cut on side 2 featured on the ' I Cant Stop Dancing'
LP, Archie shouts out each member of the Toronadoes' names while
they take their solos.


'Tighten Up' was recorded and released in Dec 1967 on Ovide.
The Toronadoe's performed the song as an instrumental at club
performances with the Drells. Tighten Up was basically
an ad-lib song that didn't feature any versus of such. Archie
was in the studio til 4 am, adding his now famous intro, 'hi
everybody, I'm Archie Bell of the Drells, from Houston, TX�
The reason he added his hometown because he once heard
a deejay a couple of weeks before says that nothing good ever
came out of Texas after the assassination of President Kennedy.

So naturally he wanted people to know they were from Houston
and proud of where they're from.

Skipper Lee Frazier began to peddle the 45 singles from the trunk
of his car to different record shops around town. He plugged
Tighten Up on radio station KCOH but almost made a fatal mistake
had it not been for his lady disc jockey partner at the time. He began
to play the flip side, 'Dog Eat Dog' which strangely was the A side.
She kept telling him that he was playing the wrong side and he kept
insisting he was playing the right side. After some final persuasion,
he finally aired Tighten Up and it became an overnight local smash.

Music producer Huey Meaux got wind of the song and tipped
Atlantic Records' president Ahmet Ertegun. He signed the
group and picked up the song for national distribution.
The first pressing on Atlantic was an orange background with
'Dog Eat Dog' being the A side' and 'Tighten Up the B-side.

The label pushed 'Dog Eat Dog' because of the song's relation
New York City being a dog eat dog place to live in. Archie and
The Drells had to convince Atlantic records that 'Tighten Up'
was the hit song that was big in Houston. One deejay decided
to flip the song over to see what was on the other side. Afterwards,
Tighten Up began to sell more than 20,000 copies in just New York
City every weekend. Realizing their blunder, Atlantic quickly dropped
'Dog Eat Dog' as the A-side and issuing a part 2 of Tighten Up as the
B-side on the label's red color background. The strange thing is
there's no existence of a long version. Part 2 was a separate track
to reprise the party atmosphere of Part 1. It starts off in the beginning
like Pt 1, with an opening bass with Archie yelling, 'Here we go again'!

Tighten Up hit No 1 on both the R&B and Pop Singles charts for two
weeks on the week ending May 18, 1968 and sold three million copies.
While concert tours began to pour in rapidly, Archie was still in the
military and couldn't promote the record. The public was unaware of
what the Drells looked like, so shady record promoters began to form
their own imitations of the Drells. Archie then was granted a 15-day
pass to put a stop to this mass confusion. The group made tv
appearances on Showcase 68' and American Bandstand.

During a show at a popular club in Longside, NJ called Loretta's
Hi Hat in the summer of 1968, Archie Bell met two songwriters
from Philadelphia, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. After the show
the duo met came backstage and met with the Drells and asked
if they can produce them. Archie got the ok from Skipper Lee who
was really excited about the songwriting team wanting to work
with them. Gamble & Huff composed two masterpiece gems,
'I Can't Stop Dancing and ' Do The Choo Choo'. Press for time,
Archie had to fly back and forth on two weekends from Germany
to lie down his vocal tracks.

Both songs were recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia.
The session players were MFSB while Don Renaldo provided string
and horn arrangements. The background vocals were Gamble & Huff.
' I Can't Stop Dancing b/w ' You're Such A Beautiful Child' (composed
by Archie Bell) hit (No. 5 on the R&B Singles chart) the week ending
Sept 21, 1968 and (No. 9 Pop Sept 9). The T.S.U Toronadors provided
the track for You're Such A Beautiful Child. The Drells in my opinion
had great background harmony.

'The Tighten Up' LP hit No 15 on the R&B LP charts in Aug of
1968. ' Do The Choo Choo', was the Drells third release on Atlantic
and hit (No 17 R&B in Nov of 1968). The B-side was a beautiful tune
penned by Archie Bell entitled, ' Love Will Rain On You'. Plugs from
various soul radio stations across the nation would cause this
song to hit (No 25 R&B on Dec 7, 1968).

The Drells' fourth release would be just in time for the Christmas
holidays, (There's Gonna Be A) Showdown' b/w 'Go For What
You Know written by Gamble & Huff and the latter by Melvin &
Marvin Steals two sibling songwriters who gain fame early in
1973 composing the Spinners second million seller, ' Could It
Be I'm Falling In Love'.

The 'I Can't Stop Dancing' LP released in late 1968 contains two
eargasm album tracks, 'Do You Feel It' and 'Jammin In Houston'.
The LP would hit (No 28 on the R&B LP charts) after re-entering the
charts, the week of Feb 8, 1969. (There's Gonna Be A) Showdown
climbed to the No 6 spot on the R&B singles on Feb 1, 1969 and
(No 21 Pop on Jan 25, 1969).

Atlantic continued to release other singles on the group, 'I Love
My Baby' b/w ' Just A Little Closer' (another beautiful ballad
penned by Archie) (No 40 R&B April 20, 1969), ' Girl You're Too
Young' b/w 'Do The Hand Jive' (No 13 R&B June 28, 1969),
and 'My Balloon's Going Up' b/w ' Giving Up Dancing' (No 36
Sept 20, 1969). All six of these outstanding compositions are
featured in Archie Bell & The Drells' 3rd LP on Atlantic, 'There's
Gonna Be A Showdown'. Most of the songs were written and
produced by Gamble & Huff, Archie Bell and Bobby Martin.

' Mama Didn't Teach Me That Way' and Green Power are also
included in the LP. 'Green Power' written by Melvin & Marvin
Steals and Farrow, is a strong composition that campaigns
In the minds school dropouts (which became a strong issue
in the1960's) the importance on how a good education can
lead to a better earning status in life. The ' Showdown' LP
is another masterpiece album that stands the test of musical
time with good material. It's one of my favorite albums.

In November of 1969, Atlantic released two tunes from the
Gamble & Huff camp, 'A World Without Music' b/w 'Here
I Go Again'. The song hit (No 46 on the R&B Singles on
Jan 3, 1970). Around this time, Archie and the Drells left
Gamble & Huff productions and travel down to Muscle
Shoals Sounds located in Sheffield, Alabama, owned by
music mogul, Rick Hall, known for his famous session work
with Aretha Franklin, Clarence Carter, Percy Sledge, the late
Jimmy Hughes (cousin of Percy Sledge) Percy Wiggins and
Candi Staton. It's known to the music world as Fame Studios.

The first release Drells' release with Muscle Shoals was a
remake of the Steelers (a group from Chicago) 1969 hit
on the Date label entitled, ' Get It From The Bottom' b/w
'I Wish', a tune composed by singer / songwriter Phillip
Mitchell who a few years later in 1972, wrote Mel & Tim's
masterpiece hit on Stax, ' Starting All Over Again'.

Other release singles include their last single with Gamble &
Huff, 'Don't Let The Music Slip Away' b/w 'Houston, Texas
(from the 'Showdown' LP), a remake of the Sam & Dave B-side
hit ' Wrap It Up' b/w Deal With Him (No 33 R&B Nov 28, 1970)
'I Just Want Fall In Love' b/w ' Love At First Sight' (March 1971)
'Archie's In Love' b/w ' Let The World Know You've Got Soul'
(Sept 1971) and ' I Can't Face You Baby' b/w Green Power
(from the 'Showdown LP) (Dec 1971).

By not generating any hits records, Atlantic decided to terminate
The Drells contract in 1972. In 1973, Archie and the Drells signed
with a Miami based company in Florida called, T.K. Productions
owned by music legend, Henry Stone. The group was back on
the charts with, 'Dancing To Your Music' b/w 'Count The Ways'
on the Glades label. The song hit (No 11 on the R&B Singles),
the week ending March 3, 1973. Other Glades singles included,
'Ain't Nothing For A Man In Love' b/w ' You Never Know What's
On A Woman's Mind' (May 1973) and my personal favorite,
'Girls Grow Faster Than Boys' b/w 'Love's Gonna Rain On You.

The group parted ways with Glades at the end of 1973 and went
back to Philadelphia and signed on Gamble & Huff's subsidiary
label, TSOP (Top Sound Of Philadelphia) two year later in 1975.
Now under the musical direction of McFadden & Whitehead and
Bunny Sigler, the Drells recorded a masterpiece LP entitled,
'Dance Your Troubles Away'.

Under a new line up of Drells, Archie's younger brother Lee
Bell and Willie Pernell joined while Joe Cross and Billy Butler
left. Original member, James Wise remained.

' Dance Your Troubles Away' LP, yielded three hits, ' I Could
Dance All Night' b/w ' King Of The Castle', (No 25 R&B)
'The Soul City Walk' b/w 'King Of The Castle' (No 42 R&B)
and the gold smash, ' Let's Groove Pt 1' b/w ' Let's Groove
Pt 2' (No 7 R&B). The album went gold and hit top five on
the R&B LP charts in the winter of 1975.


The Drells next LP, ' Where Will You Go When The Party's
Over', in late 1976, this time on PIR (Philadelphia International
Records), released a modest single, ' Everybody Have A Good
Time' b/w 'I Bet I Can Do That Dance' (No 68 R&B) while their
1977 album 'Hard Not To Like', cranked out two cuts, ' Glad
You Can Make It' b/w 'It's Hard not To Like You' (No 56 R&B).

Two years later in 1979, Archie and the Drells made yet another
comeback with two irrepressible hits, ' Strategy' b/w 'We Got Em'
Dancin' (No 21 R&B) and the mellow, ' Show Me How To Dance'
b/w ' How Can I'.

After an appearance at Carnegie Hall in New York City, sadly
Archie Bell & The Drells parted ways.

Archie continued as a solo artist and signed with an independent
label in New York called Becket Records in 1981. Becket was
division of I&M Teleproducts located at 1790 B'way. He recorded
an LP entitled, ' I Never Had It So Good' which culled the hit
single, ' Any Time Is Right' (No 49 R&B).

Although the Drells parted ways, Archie Bell continued to record
over the years and fronted a new set of Drells and I heard
through the Chancellor's grapevine of soul that they appeared
at the ' Togetherness' soul weekend in the U.K. in November of
2004. Archie has also been inducted into the Gulf Coast Hall Of
Fame in Texas.

Archie Bell & The Drells will go down in music history as the
purveyors of great soul and helped put the name Houston,
Texas on the musical map for fans like us to remember
forever.


l)

 

scored a left-field number one hit in 1968 with "Tighten Up," which epitomized the virtues of their music: funky, exuberant, danceable soul out for a rousing good time. Born in Henderson, TX, Bell grew up in Houston and began singing in church. In junior high, he joined a vocal group called Little Pop & the Fireballs, and formed the Drells in high school with friends James Wise, Huey "Billy" Butler, and Joe Cross (later replaced by Willie Pernell). The Drells won several local talent shows, performing a repertoire dominated by Chicago soul, and were discovered by local DJ Skipper Lee Frazier, who became their manager and producer. Bell & the Drells cut a single for Frazier's Ovid label, "She's My Woman," which became a regional hit in 1966.

Unfortunately, Bell was drafted in 1967. Before he was shipped overseas, he managed to record a few more tracks with the Drells, including the single "Dog Eat Dog." The B-side was a dance tune called "Tighten Up," the title of which came from Butler; backing the Drells was an instrumental R&B combo from Texas Southern University called the T.S.U. Toronados. Frazier was talked into playing "Tighten Up" on his radio show, and it became a smash hit in Houston, drawing the attention of Atlantic. With major-label distribution, "Tighten Up" took the country by storm in early 1968, hitting number one on both the pop and R&B charts. Bell learned of the song's success while recovering from wounds suffered in Vietnam, and with Atlantic requesting a full album, he began traveling to and from the States on leave. Meanwhile, several promoters took advantage of Bell's absence to send fake Archie Bell & the Drells lineups out on the road. The real Bell was granted leave to tour with the Drells that summer, and after a show in New Jersey, the group was approached by a fledgling Philadelphia-based songwriting/production team, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. Bell & the Drells started recording heavily with the duo, a partnership that produced several more danceable R&B hits in "I Can't Stop Dancing," "Do the Choo-Choo," and "(There's Gonna Be A) Showdown" (the former two in 1968, the latter in 1969). Also in 1969, Butler left the group and was replaced by Lee Bell, Archie's brother, who became the Drells' choreographer.

In spite of the fact that Bell received his discharge from the Armed Forces and was finally free to pursue his career, "(There's Gonna Be A) Showdown" proved to be the last Top 40 pop hit he ever had. Bell & the Drells left Atlantic in 1970 and signed with the smaller Glades label, where they had a minor hit with "Dancing to Your Music." Overall, though, the Glades stint was disappointing, and in 1973 the group reunited with Gamble and Huff on their flourishing TSOP/Philadelphia International imprint. Working with producers like Bunny Sigler and McFadden & Whitehead, Bell & the Drells landed on the R&B charts with some regularity over the next few years, their still-danceable sound now a hybrid of lush Philly soul and disco. They had several substantial R&B hits from 1975-1976 with "I Could Dance All Night," "Soul City Walk," and "Let's Groove," all of which helped Dance Your Troubles Away become a Top Ten album on the R&B charts. Three follow-up albums through 1979 didn't prove quite as successful, however, and the Drells gave their last performance just before Christmas 1979. Bell subsequently cut a solo album, I Never Had It So Good, for Becket in 1981, and had a minor hit with "Anytime Is Right," but disappeared from the scene afterward. With a new set of Drells, Bell later became a staple of the East Coast's oldies-centered beach-music circuit.

Archie Bell and the Drells had one of the strangest beginnings to a musical career that lasted about a decade.  After recording the mainly instrumental "Tighten Up" as a throwaway side for the to-be-promoted "Dog Eat Dog," Archie Bell was drafted into Vietnam. While enlisted, deejays flipped the single and made "Tighten Up" a smash.  One can only imagine the strangeness he must have felt, having a major hit yet out in the trenches where anything could happen. Bell had to get special permission from the military to fly back to the States for a follow-up recording session, which yielded "There's Gonna Be A Showdown" and "I Just Can't Stop Dancing."  After he was finally discharged, Bell hooked up with the remaining Drells to resume their career. "Dancing To Your Music" was a minor success, and afterwards they returned to the Gamble and Huff production team that worked on their late 60s records.  "Let's Groove," "Soul City Walk," and "Strategy" all performed relatively well on the dancefloor.  Their last recording was in 1979.

Archie Bell and the Drells' Deepest Grooves

Tighten Up (Atlantic, 1968)

Dance Your Troubles Away (TSOP, 1975)
Features the aptly named "Let's Groove" and "Soul City Walk."  One of their most sought after LPs.

Hard Not to Like It (TSOP, 1977)

Strategy (TSOP, 1979)

Tightening It Up: Best of Archie Bell

Released on the heels of their number one smash "Tighten Up," this album includes both parts of that classic along with an assortment of southern soul grooves like "Knock on Wood" and "In the Midnight Hour." There's also a fine rendition of Sunny Ozuna's "Give Me Time." Two Archie Bell compositions, "When You Left Heartache Began" and "A Soldier's Prayer," show the soulful Texan's writing and singing skills; the latter initially appeared on Ovide Records in 1967 and "Tighten Up" followed on Ovide the same year. Atlantic Records licensed and re-released "Tighten Up," which blew up while Bell was in the Army. Credit goes to the TSU Tornados, the band accompanying Bell on "Tighten Up."

 

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  There's Gonna Be a Showdown

Company: Atlantic

Catalog: SD 8226

Year: 1969

Country/State: Henderson, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5779

Price: $30.00

 

1968 saw Archie Bell and the Drell's begin a partnership with producers/writers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.  Over the next year the parties collaborated on a series of five singles:

 

- 1968's 'There's Gonna Be A Showdown' b/w 'Go For What You Know' (Atlantic catalog number 45-2583)# 21 pop; # 6 R&B

- 1969's 'I Love My Baby' b/w 'Just a Little Closer' (Atlantic catalog number 45-2612) # 94 pop; # 40 R&B

- 1969's 'Girl, You're Too Young' b/w 'Do the Hand Jive' (Atlantic catalog number 45-2644)# 59 pop; # 13 R&B

- 1969's 'My Balloon's Going Up' b/w 'Giving Up Dancing' (Atlantic catalog number 45-2663) # 87 pop; # 36 R&B

- 1969's 'Here I Go Again' b/w 'A World Without Music' (Atlantic catalog number 45-2693)

 

     

 

Perhaps realizing the group's audience was rapidly dwindling, rather than finance new studio material, Atlantic management was apparently content to collect the singles (nine of the ten sides - the 1969 'B' side A World Without Music'' was missing in action) along with and three studio odds and ends, releasing the package as 1969's "There's Gonna Be a Showdown".  In spite of it's haphazard roots, the results were surprisingly impressive.  Responsible for most of the material, Gamble and Huff displayed a keen knack for crafting highly commercial material that was soulful, but also had a distinctive pop edge.  For their part Bell and the Drells (Willie Pernell, Mark Putney, and James Wise), seldom sounded as good turning in strong performances on all but the most routine numbers.

 

"There's Gonna Be a Showdown" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I Love My Baby    (Kenny Gamble - Thom Bell) - 2:39    rating: *** stars

Yeah, Archie Bell didn't have the world's strongest voice, but he had one of those voices that was instantly likeable and when surrounded by an upbeat soul number like 'I Love My Baby' the results were quite impressive - probably explaining why Atlantic had tapped this one as a single.

2.) Houston, Texas    (Kenny Gamble - Thom Bell - Bobby Martin) - 2:37    rating: *** stars

The first couple of times I heard 'Houston, Texas' I thought it was simply too cute.  It certainly wasn't their creative zenith, but I'll readily admit that it's grown on me over the years.  Love the group's chiming background harmonies.   

3.) (There's Gonna Be A) Showdown   (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff) - 2:42    rating: **** stars 

Perhaps because it recalled their earlier successes (complete with mid-song spoken segment), the title track was easily the standout performance.  An instantly likeable up tempo dance number with a great hook, this one had everything going for it. 

4.) Give Up Dancing  (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff - Bobby Martin) - 2:20    rating: *** stars

'Give Up Dancing' was almost as good a performance.  In fact it may have had the stronger hook, but the sudden tempo changes made it a less effective dance number.   

5.) Girl, You're Too Young   (Kenny Gamble - Thom Bell - Archie Bell) - 2:22    rating: **** stars 

An earlier single that Bell co-wrote with Gamble and Huff, 'Girl, You're Too Young' had a likeable, easy-going old school feel to it.  Bell turned in one of his breeziest vocals performances and the song was aided by a nice jazzy Bobby Martin guitar.    

6.) Mama Didn't Teach Me That Way   (Archie Bell) - 2:36      rating: **** stars 

One of two Bell originals recorded at Houston's Jones Sound Studio (Bell also arranged the song), 'Mama Didn't Teach Me That Way' had a totally different feel from the Philadelphia material.  Not to imply the Gamble-Huff material wasn't soulful, but those tracks had a sound that was considerably more 'sophisticated' than the two Houston tracks.  Opening up with another nice guitar and punctuated by a great church organ solo, this was one of the album highlights.   

 

(side 2)

1.) Do the Hand Jive    (Kenny Gamble - Thom Bell) - 2:25   rating: * star

'Do the Hand Jive' was a routine number.  I guess the plotline was mildly funny - if you didn't have dance moves in your repertoire, shake your hands around.   

2.) My Balloon's Going Up  (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff) - 2:25    rating: ***** stars 

Complete with exploding drums (courtesy of Earl Young) and a big horn arrangement, 'My Balloon's Going Up' was one of the group's most successful collaborations with Gamble and Huff.  Fantastic melody and one of those hooks that clawed it's way into your head.    

3.) Here I Go Again  (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff) - 2:12    rating: **** stars 

I'm a sucker for anything that has a Coral electric sitar on it so 'Here I Go Again' had me from the get-go.  Anyone who doubted Gamble and Huff could write an old fashion soul song; well check this one out. Only complaint was that it faded out just as Bell was starting to roll.   

4.) Go For What You Know   (Melvin Steals - Mervin Steals) - 2:07    rating: **** stars 

A slick slice of dance-ready soul, 'Go For What You Know' echoed earlier efforts, though The Drells' slightly uncomfortable falsetto backing vocals were a hoot to listen to.   

5.) Green Power   (Melvin Steals - Mikki Farrow - Mervin Steals) -     rating: **** stars 

The lyric was a little clunky, but I'll admit that Bell's ode to capitalism 'Green Power' was probably my favorite song on the album.  Great mid-tempo soul number and the Drells turned in mesmerizing backing vocals that had me humming the tune for days every time I heard it.    

6.) Just a Little Closer   (Archie Bell) - 3:21    rating: **** stars 

The second Bell original (also recorded in Houston), 'Just a Little Closer' was a beautiful, stripped down ballad that underscored how good the man could be when he played it straight and avoided the 'dance man' moves.   No idea who the guitarist was, but he turned in a blazing, if understated solo.  

 

Even though the group's singles continued to do well, the parent LP was a mediocre performer, peaking at # 163 on the pop charts.  While Bell and company continued to release 45s for Atlantic through 1971, this unfortunately marked their final studio LP for the label.

 

 

 

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Dance Your Troubles Away

Company: TSOP

Catalog: PZ-33844

Year: 1975

Country/State: Henderson, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring and edge wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5007

Price: $10.00

Dropped by Atlantic in 1971, the group remained active on the club scene, recording occasional singles, including a series of mid-1970s 45s for the Florida-based Glades label:

- 1973's 'Dancing To Your Music' b/w 'Count the Ways' (Glades catalog number 1707) # 62 pop; # 11 R&B

- 1973's 'Ain't Nothing for a Man In Love' b/w 'You Never Know What's On a Woman's Mind' (Glades catalog number 1711)  # 36 R&B

- 1974's 'Girls Grow Faster Than Boys' b/w 'Love's Gonna Rain On You' (Glades catalog number 1718)

 

Their first album in six years, 1975's "Dance Your Troubles Away" reunited Archie Bell and the Drells with producers/writers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.   Apparently uncertain how to market the group, TSOP Records ended up teaming Bell and company with a series of producers including Gamble and Huff, Bunny Sigler, and the team of Gene McFadden, John Whitehead and Victor Carastarphan.  That diverse approach probably helped explain the album's somewhat schizophrenic mixture which included stabs at old school soul ('I  Won't Leave You Honey, Never' and the pretty ballad 'I Love You (But You Don't Even Know It)'), the title track's light disco moves, and everything in between. With it's nice throwback to 'Tighten Up', the opener 'Let's Groove' was easily the best thing here.  It also provided the group with a top-10 R&B hit.  Ignoring the misleading title, (the song was actually a nice slice of funk) 'Lets Go Disco' came in a close second.  

 

"Dance Your Troubles Away" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Let's Groove   (Leon Huff - John Whitehead - Gene McFadden - Victor  Carstarphen) - 6:04   rating: **** stars   

Admittedly 'Let's Groove' was a throwaway piece of disco fodder that was way too long, but Bell and company sounded damned good on this one.  Interestingly Bell's voice seemed to have deepened over the years, and The Drells' 'let's groove' chorus was incideously catchy, explaining why it was a top-10 R&B hit.  

2.) I Could Dance All Night   (Ron Tyson - Bunny Sigler - Alan Felder) - 2:43   rating; ** stars

While it provided Bell and company with another hit, the mid-tempo 'I Could Dance All Night' didn't do nearly as much for me.  The performance wasn't bad, but the song itself was mediocre at best.  

3.) I Won't Leave You Honey, Never   (Ron Tyson - Bunny Sigler) - 9:02   rating; *** stars

Side one ended with the steamy ballad ' Won't Leave You Honey, Never'.  Musically this was another production line Philadelphia International number,  Once again, Bell's voice seemed to have deepened over the years; this time to the point where the results sounded like something The O'Jays might have recorded.  The song would have warranted an additional star except for the fact it went on and on and on ...  

 

(side 2)

1.) Dance Your Troubles Away   (John Whitehead - Gene McFadden - Victor  Carstarphen) - 6:21  rating; * star

Another formulaic dance number, at least to my ears the six minute plus 'Dance Your Troubles Away' simply didn't have much going for it, plus this time out The Drells' falsetto backing harmonies were just shrill and irritating.  

-2.) The Soul City Walk   (John Whitehead - Gene McFadden - Victor  Carstarphen) - 4:22  rating; ** stars

Another hit for the group, 'The Soul City Walk' sounded like a throwback to the mid-1960s infatuation with dance crazes that name checked cities.  Another one that was probably more fun when you'd had a couple of beers and  were out on the dance floor.  Sure seemed longer than the four minutes shown on the liner notes.   

3.) Let's Go Disco   (John Whitehead - Gene McFadden - Victor  Carstarphen - Leon Huff - C. Gilbert) - 3:46   rating; * star

As much as I'd like to say something nice about 'Let's Go Disco' ...  well the song ended with a nice nod to 'Tighten Up'.   

4.) I Love You (But You Don't Even Know It)   (John Whitehead - Gene McFadden - Victor  Carstarphen) - 4:05   rating: **** stars   

To my ears the ballad 'I Love You (But You Don't Even Know It)' was easily the best song on the album.  One of John Whitehead, Gene McFadden, and Victor Carstarphen's prettiest tunes, for his part Bell seldom sounded as good.

 

While it was far from a comeback, the results were still fairly enjoyable, marking a nice return to the charts for the group.  Besides, how could you not instantly love their stage outfits (dig the white gloves).  Elsewhere TSOP tapped the album for three singles, all hitting the R&B charts:

 

- 'I Could Dance All Night' b/w 'King of the Castle' (TSOP catalog number ZS8-4767) # 25 R&B

- 'The Soul City Walk' b/w 'King of the Castle' (TSOP catalog number ZS8-4774) # 42 R&B

- 'Let's Groove (Part 1)' b/w 'Let's Groove (Part 2)' (TSOP catalog number ZS8-4775) # 7 R&B

 

The album actually proved their best seller, hitting # 95 on the pop charts.

 

 

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Where Will You Go When the Party's Over

Company: Philadelphia International

Catalog: 34323

Year: 1976

Country/State: Henderson, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG/G+

Comments: minor ring wear; original inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: SOLD

Price: $20.00

 

 

The group's second LP for Philadelphia International found them working separately with producers Bunny Sigler and the team of John Whitehead, Gene McFadden and Victor Carstarphen.  Musically 1976's "Where WIll You Go When the Party's Over" offered up what was a fairly standard mix of mid-1970s up tempo dance numbers and lush ballads.  That's to say the collection was a rather typical Philly International release.  As usual Bell and company were at their best on the faster numbers such as the title track and 'Don't Let Love Get You Down'.  Unfortunately, Bell had a major fight on his hands trying to stay afloat above the waves of orchestration, synthesizers and backing vocals. The fact that this wasn't simply background music (aka something from TSOP) spoke highly of namesake Bell.  While the results were never less than professional and listenable, nothing on the album was truly engaging.  

 

Elsewhere, anxious for a hit two singles from the LP the neither did much in terms of sales:

 

- 1976's 'Right Here Is Where I Want To Be' b/w 'Nothing Comes Easy (Philadelphia International catalog number ZS4-3605)

- 1977's 'Everybody Have a Good Time' b/w 'I Bet I Can Do That Dance You're Doing' (Philadelphia International catalog number ZS4-3615)

 

Unfortunately, neither did very well, nor did the parent album.

 

"Where Will You Go When the Party's Over" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Don't Let Love Get You Down   (John Whitehead - Gene McFadden - Victor Carstarphen) - 

2.) Where Will You Go When the Party's Over   (John Whitehead - Gene McFadden - Victor Carstarphen) - 

3.) Right Here Is Where I Want To Be   (John Whitehead - Gene McFadden - Victor Carstarphen) - 

4.) Dancin' Man   (John Whitehead - Gene McFadden - Victor Carstarphen) - 

 

(side 2)

1.) Everybody Have a Good Time   (Bunny Sigler) - 

2.) I Swear You're Beautiful   (Bunny Sigler) - 

3.) Nothing Comes Easy   (John Whitehead - Gene McFadden - Victor Carstarphen) - 

4.) I Bet I Can Do That Dance You're Doing   (John Whitehead - Gene McFadden - Victor Carstarphen) - 


 

 

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