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The Best of The Stylistics
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Classic, love drenched soul featuring ''You Are Everything,'' ''Break Up to Make Up'' and ''Betcha By Golly Wow!'' A million seller for good reason.
This is an early collection that gathers the group's hits up to 1975. While they continued to make the charts (albeit sporadically) for another decade, the Stylistics' golden years had drawn to a close by the time this record hit the stands, so almost all of their key tracks are here. Best of the Stylistics Vol. 2 and All-Time Classics cover different bases, while Greatest Love Hits is a theme compilation with some overlap. Yet another compilation, Very Best of the Stylistics, largely has the same material as the Best of... package. For an exhaustive selection of the group's best work, you'll have to go to the original albums. Top picks: The Stylistics, Round 2, and Let's Put It All Together. --Gavin McNett
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- Product Dimensions : 4.75 x 5.75 x 0.5 inches; 3.1 Ounces
- Manufacturer : Amherst Records
- Item model number : AEC006009
- Original Release Date : 1990
- Date First Available : December 7, 2006
- Label : Amherst Records
- ASIN : B000001O82
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #55,506 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
- Customer Reviews:
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Bell's style of production for the Stylistics was much like that of the Delfonics: lots of strings with french horns adding an expansive feeling to the arrangements. He accented the music with instruments not usually used in R&B recordings like oboes, bassoons and sitar. He wisely avoided all pseudo-Indian style with the sitar which had been typical in the mid-60's, and it became a trademark in his early sound. With the Delfonics the lyrics had been written by William Hart, the group's falsetto voice. With the Stylistics the lyrics were by Linda Creed. Thom Bell favored falsetto voices and the Stylistics had Russell Thompson, Jr. whose smooth voice was the lead in every song. This was the opposite of what the Stylistics had been doing which was a variation of doo-wop where the lower voices sang the lead and the falsetto only added accents. You can hear this on You're a Big Girl Now (included on this CD) recorded soon after the group was formed from members of two groups, the Percussions and the Monarchs. This was before they met up with bell and is not one of his songs.
The Stylistics recorded for Avco-Embassy, not Philadelphia International, so Gamble and Huff are not a factor here as they were with Billy Paul, the O'Jays, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes and other Philly groups. With the Stylistics Bell struck pure gold, a succession of national crossover hits, mostly top 10's from late 1971 to 1974 including five gold records for sales over a million. You can't get much better than that. The sound is heavenly with Thompson's voice soaring with Bell's arrangements, a prime example of the slow soul ballads popular at the time. The only really uptempo numbers are Rockin' Roll Baby, which has a show band feeling much like the Spinners would later do, and Heavy Fallin' Out, a non-Bell song with a Philly International disco-like production.
My favorite Stylistics song is the one that didn't do as well as the others, People Make the World Go Round, which only made it to #25, asawiched between million-sellers. When I first heard it in June of 1972 I was sure it was going to be one of the summer's big hits, especially with it's perfect opening of bass, synthesizer and even wind chimes joined by shimmering strings.The lyrics might have been the problem. It wasn't a love song like their usual, and wasn't biting social commentary either; it was more a statement like, "It's a crazy, funny world", not enough to interest most people. At least they included it here.
The CD itself is a mixed bag. If Amazon gave different scores for performance and Cd the CD would be a 3 or 4. But I can't give the Stylistics, one of the greatest R&B groups ever, anything less than a 5. The CD is a stripped down affair and the Stylistics deserved better. There are no notes: not one word about the Stylistics or their songs. All the hits are here at least and that's enough for most people. It even includes a couple of the songs written for them by Avco owners Hugo and Luigi after Thom Bell left them for Atlantic's Spinners. Also, when Avco went bankrupt in 1978 it was acquired by Amherst Records who put out this disc, so they have the master tapes and the sound is excellent. But there are only ten songs, a 36 minute disc. Not only that but they don't have the songs in the order of release. At least that is easily fixed on a computer. They only made a duplicate of the 1975 LP. Even in the early CD era, an hour was standard. There should have been material from their albums added. They had a chance to fix this when they put out the 30th Anniversary Edition, but all they did was add three bonus tracks from Russell Thompson's Stylistics (the most valid of the three current touring groups). I now see a two-disc import has been released that has all of their singles, even obscure ones like Peek-a-Boo and follows them through 1976. But I probably don't want that much of their late material and will likely get some of their early albums for more of their classic sound.
For most fans, old and new, this is the disc to get as it does have all the great Stylistics hits taken from original masters.
As long as there is romance, there will be reason enough to put on the Stylistics, and this CD delivers the "must-have" cuts in one neat package. Their anthem, People Make The World Go Round, sounds as fresh, sweet, and relevant today as when it was released. Betcha By Golly, Wow says what every lover wants to say and every lover wants to hear. Break Up To Make Up is bittersweet stuff, stinging with truth. You Are Everything is another ballad of crystalline beauty, as is Let's Put It All Together. Even the second-best songs on this disc were big hits in their day; this is a highly select offering. Everybody likes to rock out and everybody likes to Wang Chung, but if there's a part of you that resonates with the gentle vulnerability of love offered up like a flower, you will find that this music wraps you like a warm coat in winter and a welcome breeze in summer. Betcha by golly, wow, you're the one that I've been waiting for.