Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Stylistics, The #80 Artist of the Seventies*

This great soul vocal group was created when two Philadelphia groups (the Percussions and the Monarchs) merged.  Russell Thompkins, Jr., James Smith, and Airrion Love were in the Monarchs, while James Dunn and Herbie Murrell had been with the Percussions.  In 1970, the group scored a regional hit with "You're A Big Girl Now" on Sebring Records. 

Shortly afterwards, the Stylistics signed a recording contract with Avco Records, and Avco took the song to #7 on the R&B chart.  Avco brought in producer Thom Bell to work with the group, a key factor in their success. 

The Stylistics released their self-titled debut album in 1971.  "Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)" reached #6 on the R&B chart but stalled with the general public.
But the next single kick started things, reaching #9, selling over one million copies, and helping the album go Gold.  The Stylistics were on their way with "You Are Everything".

The group had another winner lined up--the great song "Betcha' By Golly, Wow" became one of their biggest career hits at #3.  It too was a million-seller.

"People Make The World Go 'Round" reached #6 on the R&B chart but only #25 overall.  The Stylistics released the album Round Two in 1972, and the single "I'm Stone In Love With You" reached #9 in the U.K. and #10 in the United States.
"Break Up To Make Up" was a solid #5 follow-up, and the group's fourth Gold single.

"You'll Never Get To Heaven (If You Break My Heart)" gave the Stylistics another big R&B hit (#8) but only #23 overall.  In 1973, the group released the album Rockin' Roll Baby.  The title song went to #3 in the U.K., and hit #3 on the R&B chart and #14 overall in the U.S.
The Stylistics launched their biggest career international hit next.  "You Make Me Feel Brand New" was a #2 smash in both the United States and the U.K., and reached #3 in Canada and Australia.  It became yet another Gold single. 

The group connected with their R&B base for two more hits in that genre, "Let's Put It All Together" and "Heavy Fallin' Out", but "You Make Me Feel Brand New" was their last big hit.

Thom Bell moved on in 1974, and that kind of took the rug out from under the Stylistics.  The group has undergone several changes, but they are still together performing.

The Stylistics scored 17 hits in the decade with five Top 10 songs.

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