Dramatics, The

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1965-)

- Ron Banks - tenor vocals (1965-83)

- Eldridge Bryant - vocals (replaced Elbert Wilkins) 


- Rob Davis - bass vocals (1965-68)

- Larry Demps (aka Lawrence Dempsey) - baritone vocals


- Robert Ellington - bass vocals (1965-)

- Willie Ford - bass vocals (replaced Rob Davis) (1968-)

- Barrington Henderson - vocals (replaced L.J. Reynolds)


- William Howard (RIP 2000) - lead vocals (replaced Larry

  Reed) (1968-73)

- Craig Jones - vocals (replaced Barrington Henderson) 


- Lenny Cornell Mayes (RIP 2004) - vocals (replaced 

  Eldrdge Bryant) (1973)

- Larry Reed - lead vocals (1965-68)

- L.J. Reynolds - vocals (replaced William Howard)


- Elbert Wilkins (RIP 1992) - tenor vocal (1965-)



- Ron Banks (solo efforts)

- The Capitols (Willie Ford)

- Chocolate Syrup (L.J. Reynolds)

- L.J. Reynolds (solo efforts)

- The Sensations

- Sunrise Movement On the Ghetto (Lenny Mayes)

- The Temptations (Eldridge Bryant)





Genre: soul

Rating: 3 stars

Title:  Dramatically Yours

Company: Volt

Catalog: VOS 9501

Country/State: Detroit, Michigan

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5550

Price: $15.00


To my ears The Dramatics always seemed somewhat out of place among the rest of the soul vocal groups signed by the Stax/Volt label.  The fact their roots lay in Detroit, rather than Memphis was obvious, but perhaps never more that on 1975's "Dramatically Yours".  Ironically, for an album that was recorded and released just as the Stax/Volt empire was collapsing, this collection was surprisingly good; the group perhaps benefiting from their physical and cultural distance from Stax/Volt.  Recorded at Detroit's United Sound Studios with Don Davis producing (Jimmy Roach handled production duties on the three tracks he wrote), exemplified by Ron Banks' silky falsetto and L.J. Reynolds raging leads, this was classic Dramatics soul.  That's not to say it would appeal to everyone.  The Dramatics were one of the true old school outfits, and unlike many of their contemporaries who were starting to explore more commercial directions, not one of these nine tracks paid any heed to popular trends like disco, or funk. In fact there was only one non-ballad - the mid-tempo 'Highway To Heaven'.   The good news was that power ballads like 'And I Panicked', 'I Made Myself Lonely' and 'Beautiful Feeling' were nothing short of wonderful.  The mix of Reynolds power, Banks falsetto and Robert Ellington's bass was classy throughout.  A nice addition to their catalog and their final release for Stax/Volt.  Elsewhere two singles were pulled from the album:


- 1974's 'And I Panicked' b/w 'Beware of That Man' (Volt catalog number VOA 4105)

- 1974's 'Highway To Heaven' b/w 'I Made Myself Lonely' (Volt catalog number VOA 4106)


"Dramatically Yours" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) And I Panicked   (Jimmy Roach) - 3:53

2.) I Dedicate My Life To You   (Roger Hatcher - Robert Holmes) - 3:30

3.) You've Got Me Going Through a Thing   (Tony Hester) - 4:10

4.) I Pray She'll Never Go Away   (David Jones - Wade brown) - 4:37


(side 2)
1.) I Made Myself Lonely   (Jimmy Roach) - 3:49

2.) Highway To Heaven   (Dennis Gilmore - James Dean) - 3:54

3.) Beautiful Feeling   (Fred Bridges - Richard Knight - Bobby Eston) - 3:57

4.) Toast To the Fool   (Arthur Snyder - Don Davis) - 3:22

5.) It's So Hard Trying To Get Over You   (Jimmy Roach) - 3:56





Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  The Dramatic Jackpot

Company: ABC

Catalog: ABCD-867

Year: 1975

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4697

Price: $10.00


Their second release for ABC, 1975's "The Dramatic Jackpot" is one of those soul albums that seems to have fallen victim to the public's growing interest in disco.  That's unfortunate since this is one of the group's most consistent and enjoyable releases.  While there's nothing particularly original here, backed by an extensive array of sessions players including keyboardist Earl Van Dyke, Ron Banks and company seldom sounded as sharp.  Musically the set offered up a nice mix of up tempo material and ballads (more of the former).  Highlights included Tony Hester's cute '(I'm Going By) the Stars In Your Eyes', 'Good Things Don't Come Easy' and 'Never Let You Go'.  In fact the only release loser here is a seemingly endless supperclub-ish remake of 'Me and Mrs. Jones'.  Stick with Billy Paul's smoldering version.


ABC pulled a pair of singles from the album:


- 1975's 'Me and Mrs. Jones' b/w 'I Cried All the Way Home' (ABC catalog number ABC-12090)

- 1975's ' Trying To Get Over Losing You' b/w '(I'm Going BY) The Stars In Your Eyes (ABC catalog ABC-12125)


"The Dramatic Jackpot" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) (I'm Going By) the Stars In Your Eyes   (Tony Hester) - 3:43

2.) Good Things Don't Come Easy   (Melvin Griffin - Gene Beene) - 4:43

3.) Trying To Get Over Losing You   (C.R. Cason) - 3:08

4.) I Cried All the Way Home   (Tony Hester) - 4:20

5.) Never Let You Go   (L.J. Reynold - Ron Banks - Willie Ford- 3:54


(side 2)
1.) A Thousand Shades of Blue   (Tony Hester) - 3:55

2.) Me, Myself and I   (C.R. Cason) - 3:37

3.) I Dig Your Music   (Jimmy Roach) - 3:30

4.) Me and Mrs. Jones   (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff - Cary Gilbert) - 6:15

5.) How Do You Feel   (Ron Banks - Paul Clark) - 4:05



Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Drama V

Company: ABC

Catalog: ABCD-916

Year: 1975

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD

Price: SOLD

Cost: $66.00


I own a slew of Dramatics album, but I've got to admit that 1975's "Drama V" was a real surprise to my ears. Mind you, sporting sophisticated arrangements and silky smooth vocals, material such as 'She's a Rainmaker', 'I was the Life of that Party' and 'Just Shopping (Not Buying Anything)' offered up classic mid-1970s soul vocal group fair.  While the ballads and mid-tempo numbers were all pretty good, Ron Banks and company surprised with a couple of stunning (and totally unexpected) slices of hardcore funk ...   'You're Fooling Who', the L.J. Reynolds-penned 'Things Are Changing' and the instrumental 'Dramatic Theme' are simply great and worth the price of admission alone.  Elsewhere ABC tapped the album for a pair of singles:


- ''You're Fooling Who' b/w 'I'll Make It So Good' (ABC catalog number ABC-12150)

- 'I was the Life of the Party' b/w 'Things Are Changing' (ABC catalog number ABC-12180)


Sure, there isn't anything here that will significantly change your life, but this set is actually far better than a lot of work by many of the albums put out by their better known competitors.

"Drama V" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) You're Fooling Who   (Tony Hester) - 3:34

2.) She's a Rainmaker   (Tony Hester) - 4:15

3.) I was the Life of that Party   (N. Toney) - 4:42

4.) Things Are Changing  (L.J. Reynolds) - 4:15

5.) I'm Gonna Love You To the Max   (Ron Banks - P. Clark) - 4:02


(side 2)
1.) Dramatic Theme/Treat Me Like a Man   (M. Henderson) - 7:15

2.) Just Shopping (Not Buying Anything)   (M. Henderson) - 5:07

3.) Come of Your Thing   (Tony Hester) - 3:12

4.) I'll Make It So Good   (Ron Banks - P. Clark) - 3:20



Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  10 1/2

Company: MCA

Catalog: MCA 3196

Year: 1980

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG+

Comments: includes insert

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 825

Price: $10.00



To their credit The Dramatics were one of the last classic soul vocal groups to succumb to  record label pressure to dive into disco.  Listening to 1980's Larry Reynolds produced "10 1/2" you got the feeling Ron Banks and the rest of the group knew they simply weren't cut out to be a dance outfit and it showed on their stilted and uncomfortable performances on the album's discofied numbers - 'Music Is the People's Choice', 'I Just Wanna Dance the Night Away').   Elsewhere, Reynolds seemed to have been listening to more than his share of George Clinton and the P-Funk family ('If You Feel Like You Wanna Dance, Dance').  At least to my ears the funk moves were somewhat disconcerting, though not as irritating as Reynolds use of then-cutting edge production effects such as gurgling synthesizers and syndrums ('Keep On Runnin'').  Hardly a great Dramatics album, but I guess you couldn't blame them for trying to find and hold on to an audience.   

"10 1/2" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Music Is the People's Choice  (Ron Banks - Cecile Womack) - 5:54

Remember those Temptations songs Norman Whitfield produced in the early-'70s ?  Well 'Music Is the People's Choice' sounded like a lame brained mix of Whitfield's production moves and mindless disco.   Unfortunately, the disco influences won out, making this a near worthless opening number.   The Dramatics were not cut out for disco ...   rating: * star

2.) Welcome Back Home   (Ron Banks - Raymond Johnson - Tony Green - Darnell Kimbrough) - 6:47

Thankfully, 'Welcome Back Home' found the group returning to a more suitable genre - in this case a big, breezy old-school ballad with a nice melody that showcased the group's impeccable harmony vocals.   MCA tapped it as the leadoff single.    rating: **** stars

3.) Runnin' From My Love   (Ron Banks - Raymond Johnson - Tony Green) - 4:55

Geez, opening a song with gurgling synthesizers ?   Syndrums ?  Not a good sign.   Luckily, 'Runnin' from My Love' found a decent groove that was more funky than disco.  Can't say it was a great track, but it was at least listenable.   rating: *** stars

4.) Love Is Here   (Kenneth Gamble - Leon Huff) - 5:29

The opening vamp is one of the cheesiest things you've ever heard and it seems to go on and on and on ...   Luckily, about a minute in Banks actually starts to sing which gives the song a chance.  The ballad itself wasn't that great, though there was a nice chorus.   rating: *** stars


(side 2)
1.) I Just Wanna Dance the Night Away   (Larry Reynolds) - 7:33

With a title like ' I Just Wanna Dance the Night Away' I figured this was going to be another throwaway dance number.  It was along with all the stuff that made disco so irritating - heavy percussion breaks, ricochet guitar effects, heavy synthesizer patterns, and the title repeated forever.  I'll give it an extra star since it let a couple of the other members handle lead vocals.     rating: ** stars

2.) If You Feel Like You Wanna Dance, Dance   (Larry Reynolds) - 5:55

Larry Reynolds handled lead vocals on this one and apparently wanted to take the group into George Clinton/Funkadelic territory.  Not horrible, but still kind of disconcerting.   rating: *** stars

3.) It Ain't Rainin' (On Nobody's House But Mine)   (Larry Reynolds) - 6:04

Another tune with Reynolds on lead vocals, 'It Ain't Rainin' (On Nobody's House But Mine)' was a wonderfully dramatic "broken-home" ballad (complete with hysterical storm sound effects).  Call me old-fashioned, but to my ears this was easily the album's standout performance and you had to wonder why MCA didn't tap it as the single.   rating: **** stars

4.) Be with the One You Love   (Larry Reynolds) - 3:37

The album closed out with an odd offering ... penned and sung by Reynolds, 'Be with the One You Love' was a bouncy, retro- soul number.  Sounding very mid-'60s, it was hard to image it was recorded in 1980.  Great tune that simply destroyed the disco crappola.   The picture and sound quality wasn't great, but YouTube had a clip of the group lip synching the song on a Soul Train performance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYjTtQGzROU   rating: **** stars


The album spun off one single which did okay on the S&B charts::



- 1980's 'Welcome Back Home' b/w 'A Marriage on Paper Only' (MCA catalog number MCA 41178)