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).
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.
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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).
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
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.