Archie Bell & The Drells – 1968 – Tighten up

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An incredible bit of southern funk – the first landmark LP by Archie Bell & The Drells, and the first big burst of energy from the Texas scene of the 60s! The album’s incredible – with Archie up front on rough-hewn vocals, the band grooving in a mad tangle of guitar, bass, and drums, and some super-fierce horn work by the TSU Tornadoes! You’ve no doubt heard the band’s classic “Tighten Up (part 1)”, but this album also includes the incredible “part 2″ to the track – which takes the groove a million miles higher! (Dusty Groove).

Tracks
A1 Tighten Up (Part One) 3:10
A2 Tighten Up (Part Two) 2:52
A3 I Don’t Wanna Be a Playboy 3:00
A4 You’re Mine 2:46
A5 Knock on Wood 2:30
B1 Give Me Time 2:29
B2 In the Midnight Hour 2:27
B3 When You Left Heartache Began 2:36
B4 A Thousand Wonders 2:08
B5 A Soldier’s Prayer, 1967 2:54

Archie Bell formed his back-up singing group the Drells in 1966 with four local friends from Junior High School in Houston, TX. In 1967 Bell’s career got sidetracked when he was drafted and sent to Vietnam. While he was on leave back in the States in 67, he cut his most famous single Tighten Up, which became a #1 hit, selling almost three million copies. The single would later form the backbone of this LP, which also reached the RnB Top 20. Ironically, while Bell should have been basking in his fame, he was instead, recovering in a hospital in West Germany after being shot in the leg in Vietnam. He was only able to perform for short periods during leave and the Drells actually performed many times with a fill in, James Wise. The first time I heard the album I had to listen to it again. It opens up with Tighten Up (Part 1), but it’s a different mix than the one on the 45 that you hear on the radio all the time. This version starts off with an open bass line and seems a little slower. No matter which way it’s played though, it’s still a classic tune that has short drum break towards the beginning. The band also busts out with lively versions of Knock On Wood and In The Midnight Hour. I also like the cover artwork by Loring Eutemey who did a couple others for Atlantic that features a man and woman dancing in hip 60s gear.

Official biography and other stories on Soul Patrol.

Buy the vinyl of the group on Groove Collector.

Buy both albums on CD on Amazon.

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Archie Bell & The Drells – 1969 – There’s Gonna Be A Showdown

A stormer from Archie Bell & The Drells – one of our favorite soul albums ever, and a masterpiece of mid-tempo soul! Archie Bell & The Drells sound amazing here – light years from the rougher funk of their earlier years, yet still with a groove that’s undeniable – an incredible meeting of soul music scenes handled by the young Gamble & Huff team – who not only produce most of the record, but also wrote most of the tracks on the set! The groove is lightly lilting, and totally on the money – a sound that’s incredible, and hard to describe in words — but which really grabs us from the get-go. All tracks are great, and totally fresh (Dusty Groove).

Tracks
A1 I Love My Baby 2.42
A2 Houston, Texas 2.41
A3 (There’s Gonna Be A) Showdown 2.44
A4 Giving up Dancing 2.22
A5 Girl You’re too Young 2.23
A6 Mama Didn’t Teach Me That Way 2.39
B1 Do the Hand Jive 2.27
B2 My Balloon’s Going Up 2.27
B3 Here I Go Again 2.15
B4 Go for What You Know 2.07
B5 Green Power 2.23
B6 Just a Little Closer 3.25

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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.

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. The moved to Philadelphia International for 3 more albums between 1975-77.

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36 Comments
  • Soul is the Music
    Posted at 19:51h, 21 August 2009 Reply

    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. Great post. Thank u.

  • Lafayette
    Posted at 20:00h, 21 August 2009 Reply

    Wonderful! This one hits the spot for sure! :¬)

    /Laf

  • funk tone
    Posted at 20:16h, 21 August 2009 Reply

    +++

  • billymac
    Posted at 20:23h, 21 August 2009 Reply

    Thanks for this,guys. My brother interviewed Gamble and Huff for their Hall of Fame Induction, and I got got to sit in. They signed my Intruders album- their first album. They didn’t even own a copy. They studied the album as if they had never seen it before. Be good.

  • pedro
    Posted at 20:46h, 21 August 2009 Reply

    showdown and here i go again i remember buying em when released here i go was very big on the northern soul(soul to me)traps, great up thanks

  • Frank
    Posted at 20:56h, 21 August 2009 Reply

    great memories, hot summer nights, thanks for posting nick.

  • rich
    Posted at 21:22h, 21 August 2009 Reply

    thank u so much nikos cant wait to hear these two albums

  • Redddox
    Posted at 00:25h, 22 August 2009 Reply

    Such a classic!!!! Great stuff too…Thanks for sharing!

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 03:44h, 22 August 2009 Reply

    so many hits…a billboard band…so good ty for the share and the quality jean paris

  • Seth
    Posted at 11:31h, 22 August 2009 Reply

    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.

  • Kirk
    Posted at 10:53h, 23 August 2009 Reply

    Great posting-great group thanks!

  • Veronica
    Posted at 00:03h, 24 August 2009 Reply

    Looks really cool, thank you Nikos.

  • John
    Posted at 09:49h, 24 August 2009 Reply

    Simply put – thank you for such a brilliant site – the stuff on here is truly superb.

    Thanks and thanks again,

    John

  • phatrapper
    Posted at 11:30h, 24 August 2009 Reply

    Many thanks Nikos!

  • mellowgangsta
    Posted at 16:24h, 24 August 2009 Reply

    As usual – you´re the best! thanx for Archie. makes my week!

  • sir grimes
    Posted at 18:14h, 24 August 2009 Reply

    peace from Houston. this post hits home right here! good music.

  • bowlisha1
    Posted at 04:05h, 25 August 2009 Reply

    First let me say welcome back Nikos! I’m skipping around posts trying to play catchup so my comments are a bit out of order but I don’t think I welcomed you back. 🙂

    Ever see an ole lady dance with a cane? If not you missed my act when “Girl You’re Too Young” played. LOL It’s been awhile since I listened to that and man did it sound good to me.

    Thanks ever so much for the links! I have not finished them yet but it gives me something very nice to sit in bed with the laptop later on. I saved the audio interview for later purposely. You know, save the best for last. 😉

  • Adam
    Posted at 09:39h, 25 August 2009 Reply

    Great! Back when black music was at its peak in quality.

  • nikos1109
    Posted at 09:48h, 25 August 2009 Reply

    Bow, Nice to hear from you again. I try to imagine you dancing with a cane!!! As Adam said these were the golden days of black music.

  • Hercules
    Posted at 19:16h, 25 August 2009 Reply

    just found your blog.
    big thanks for this.

  • Gary
    Posted at 09:40h, 26 August 2009 Reply

    thumbs up! amazing albums!

  • Sayit
    Posted at 19:09h, 26 August 2009 Reply

    nice post, thanks a bunch nikos.

  • invisiblenigma
    Posted at 00:04h, 27 August 2009 Reply

    Good Stuff!! Much Thanks!!

  • Christopher
    Posted at 09:56h, 27 August 2009 Reply

    Thanks Nick!! I love when you post these good ol’ funk classics. Cheers!!

  • Elena
    Posted at 16:51h, 29 August 2009 Reply

    Love those classics.

  • noone noone
    Posted at 09:28h, 20 November 2009 Reply

    i m in love with style of music, since i was a kid.
    is it too bad doctor?
    😉
    thank you

  • Witchy Woman
    Posted at 12:53h, 03 December 2009 Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing these!!

    WW

  • ear3
    Posted at 01:24h, 18 March 2010 Reply

    Thanks for your efforts.

  • moggy
    Posted at 15:50h, 19 March 2010 Reply

    Thanks for those. I have a few soul comps, and AB always seems a highlight.

  • hamnegger
    Posted at 23:45h, 10 April 2010 Reply

    great 2fer, thankyou

  • Leila
    Posted at 20:01h, 19 May 2011 Reply

    Peasse, who was the saxophone player of Archie Bell & The Drells group in the 70s? Concert in Brazil

  • Leila
    Posted at 20:12h, 19 May 2011 Reply

    Peasse, who was the saxophone player of Archie Bell e The Drells group in the 70s? Concert in Brazil (sorry i’m Brazilian understand little English)

  • Curtis
    Posted at 14:25h, 25 May 2012 Reply

    Thanx so much !!!!!!!!!

  • stephphs
    Posted at 00:05h, 01 January 2013 Reply

    oh my god ! thanks thanks thanks

  • Jan
    Posted at 20:48h, 31 August 2013 Reply

    What beautiful albums to hear.

  • Art
    Posted at 08:22h, 17 September 2014 Reply

    Wow! Stumbled upon your blog lookin’ for Otis Clay…Saw these cats in high school here in Houston. Love “Gonna Be A Showdown”, off to Chambers Bros next…Thank you for this and all your other wonderful efforts here!

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