Founded in 1968 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Stylistics were one of the key players in the Philly Soul movement of the early 1970s. From 1971 to 1974, the group amassed 10 Top 40 hit singles that are as refreshing and relevant today as they were back then.
Specializing in breathtaking ballads, courted by elegant string arrangements and silky smooth textures, the Stylistics articulated amorous prose with emotional content smacking of sincerity. Lead singer Russell Thompkins Jr.’s sensuous Smokey Robinson-flavored falsetto is so full of life and love that it’s enough to melt both the heart and the records, while the group’s billowy harmonies are the frosting on the cupcake.
Penned of sweet poetry, pledging eternal devotion, tracks like “You Are Everything” and “You Make Me Feel Brand New” duly went onto become wedding staples. The Stylistics have a way of laying the romance on thick and heavy without resorting to syrupy sap.
Top brass production thrills and frilly but firm melodies also personify the celestial music of the Stylistics. Radiating with beauty and light, “Let’s Put It All Together,” “Stone In Love With You” and “Betcha By Golly Wow” dial in as some of the most perfectly sculpted and precisely performed tunes ever committed to disc.
Although the Stylistics concentrated on the soft stuff and made good by doing so, they weren’t immune to occasionally slipping a slice of jazz or funk into the show. Or rock and roll, as evidenced by the springy “Rock And Roll Baby,” which is indeed an ode to a toddler who digs rock and roll.
Stocked tight with first rate soul songs that deservedly gained universal appeal, The Best Of The Stylistics (Spectrum Records) posts a premium on pretty, while at the same time striking a confident pose oozing with coolness, class and style — pun intended!
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