Thursday Open Thread |Male Groups of the 70’s – The Stylistics

Today we will enjoy the music of The Stylistics.

The Stylistics-1

The Stylistics are a soul music vocal group, and were one of the best-known Philadelphia soul groups of the 1970s. They formed in 1968, and were composed of lead Russell Thompkins, Jr., Herb Murrell, Airrion Love, James Smith, and James Dunn. All of their US hits were ballads, graced by the soaring falsetto of Russell Thompkins, Jr. and the lush productions of Thom Bell, which helped make the Stylistics one of the most successful soul groups of the first half of the 1970s.”[1] During the early 1970s, the group had twelve consecutive U.S. R&B top ten hits, including “Stop, Look, Listen”, “You Are Everything”, “Betcha by Golly, Wow”, “People Make the World Go Round”, “I’m Stone in Love with You”, “Break Up to Make Up”, and “You Make Me Feel Brand New”.[1]

Early years

The Stylistics were created from two Philadelphia groups, The Percussions and The Monarchs.[2] Russell Thompkins Jr., James Smith, and Airrion Love came from the Monarchs, and James Dunn and Herbie Murrell came from the Percussions. In 1970, the group recorded “You’re a Big Girl Now”, a song their road manager Marty Bryant co-wrote with Robert Douglas, a member of their backing band Slim and the Boys, and the single became a regional hit for Sebring Records.[1] Producer Bill Perry spent $400 to record the number in the Virtue Studios in Philadelphia. The larger Avco Records soon signed the Stylistics, and the single eventually climbed to number seven on the US Billboard R&B chart in early 1971.[1]
Success: The Bell/Creed years

After signing to Avco, the record label approached producer Thom Bell, who had already produced a catalogue of hits for The Delfonics, to work with the group.[3] The Stylistics auditioned for Bell, but he was initially unimpressed.[3] He ultimately agreed to produce the group because he believed in the potential of lead singer, Russell Thompkins, Jr.’s distinctive, nasal high tenor falsetto voice.[3] Avco gave Bell complete creative control over the Stylistics and he proceeded to focus the group’s sound exclusively around Thompkins’s voice.[3] On most of the group hits, Bell would have Thompkins sing virtually solo.[3]

The first song recorded with Bell and his collaborator, lyricist Linda Creed, was the lush “Stop, Look, Listen”.[4] Bell imported techniques he had perfected with The Delfonics and his arrangements worked perfectly with Thompkins’ falsetto.

Their hits from this period —distilled from three albums— included “Betcha by Golly, Wow” (U.S. #3), “I’m Stone in Love with You”, “Break Up to Make Up” (U.S. #5), “You Make Me Feel Brand New” featuring a rare double lead with Airron Love, the aforementioned “Stop, Look, Listen”, “You Are Everything”, and the Top 20 Pop hit “Rockin’ Roll Baby” (U.S. #14). “You Make Me Feel Brand New” was the group’s biggest U.S. hit, holding at No. 2 for two weeks just as the spring of 1974 turned to summer, and was one of the group’s five U.S. gold singles.

The Stylistics’ smooth sound also found an easier path on to adult contemporary airwaves than many other soul artists and the group made Billboard magazine’s Easy Listening singles chart twelve times from 1971 to 1976, with three entries (“Betcha by Golly, Wow”, “You Make Me Feel Brand New”, and “You’ll Never Get to Heaven (If You Break My Heart)”) reaching the Top 10. Every single that Bell produced for the Stylistics was a Top Ten R&B hit, and several—”You Are Everything”, “Betcha by Golly Wow!”, “I’m Stone in Love with You”, “Break Up to Make Up”, and “You Make Me Feel Brand New”—were also Top Ten pop chart hits.[1] The band also enjoyed commercial success with big hits with this material throughout Europe.
Changing style: Continuing international success

Thom Bell stopped working with the Stylistics in 1974,[1] and the split proved commercially difficult for the group in the U.S. Just as with the Delfonics, the Stylistics were to some extent a vehicle for Bell’s own creativity. They struggled to find the right material although their partnership with label owners, Hugo & Luigi as producers and arranger Van McCoy started well with “Let’s Put It All Together” (#18 pop, No. 8 R&B) and “Heavy Fallin’ Out” (#4 R&B, No. 41 pop). Following singles were notably less successful, but as U.S. success began to wane, their popularity in Europe, and especially the United Kingdom, increased.[1] Indeed, the lighter ‘pop’ sound fashioned by McCoy and Hugo & Luigi gave the group a UK #1 in 1975 with “Can’t Give You Anything”.[1][5] Further successes with “Sing Baby Sing”, “Na Na Is The Saddest Word”, “Funky Weekend” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love” consolidated the group’s European popularity.[1][5] They are one of the few U.S. acts to have two chart-topping greatest hits albums in the UK.[5]

The Stylistics switched record labels during this period as Avco Records transitioned into H&L Records in 1976.[1] Notwithstanding this, the band began to struggle with increasingly weak material, and although the singles and albums came out as before, by 1978 chart success had vanished. A move to Mercury in 1978 for two albums produced by Teddy Randazzo failed to produce any major success. Russell Thompkins Jr. wrote (in the sleevenotes for the re-issue of the 1976 album, Fabulous) that the group began to feel that the music they were recording was becoming dated and not in keeping with the popular disco sound of the late 1970s.

In 1979, they had a small part in the movie Hair, directed by Miloš Forman, where they play conservative army officers. They double Nell Carter in singing a tongue-in-cheek song called “White Boys”.

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33 Responses to Thursday Open Thread |Male Groups of the 70’s – The Stylistics

  1. rikyrah says:

    Ohio Charter School Chain Under Investigation – July 16, 2014

    The Ohio State Board of Education has ordered an investigation into
    19 charter schools in the Horizons Science network after allegations
    surfaced of severe misconduct among school officials at one of the
    schools in Dayton, according to The Columbus Dispatch. Four former teachers at the Horizon Science Academy Dayton High School leveled hefty accusations against their ex-employer at the state education board’s monthly meeting Tuesday.[….]

    The Columbus Dispatch article details other accusations and says this is not the only investigation Horizon Schools has been connected to recently: “Ohio’s Horizon schools are among 30 in the Midwest operated by the Chicago-based Concept Schools. Some of the schools also are part of a separate probe by the FBI, reportedly about the use of federal technology grants.[….]

  2. rikyrah says:

    The New Sundown Towns and Racism in Modern America.

    July 16, 2014 by Staff
    Filed under News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns


    ( Sundown towns are not part of Americans’ discourse on race relations, despite the fact that they form a foundational aspect of it. It seems that our linear, historical narrative of American history has confined “racism in America” to the deep South and the years of Jim Crow laws. In short, we have come to think that racism is confined mostly to Confederate flag-waving southerners and even more disturbing, that it’s a problem we’ve managed to largely “fix.”

    Of course, the story is far more complicated, and it turns out that these towns played (and still do) a major role in how African-Americans are treated. What is a Sundown town? They were–or rather, are–small, all-white areas (“towns”) in which African-Americans were banned from residing. In fact, any inauspicious “colored” person who found him or herself in these racially hermetic communities could face harassment, violence, or death. The name, “sundown town” comes from the signs posted on city limits that read, “Whites Only After Dark,” or some variation of the like. This writer came across this information while compiling research for my new book, titled: Good Advice Is Just That! (Circa 1929).

    The most shocking aspect of sundown towns isn’t their professed hatred for African-Americans, but the fact that they were not located in the South. This is a surprising fact for many. More disturbing is the fact that, since their origins, their numbers have not diminished very greatly in the U.S.

    Sundown towns have been around since 1890 and between then and 1930 (even through the 1950s) they began sprawling throughout the west and Midwest. According to the book, Sundown Towns by James Loewen, places like Elwood, Indiana had African-Americans physically threatened,racism-2014 even in 2002. Since the last century and through today Elwood has a zero black Black population and hosts an annual Ku Klux Klan parade. In fact, the “progressive” village of Oak Park, Ill, now heralded as a modern image of racial harmony and inclusion for its middle to upper income residents, was considered a sundown town, by virtue of its neglible minority population as recently as the ”60’s.” As a matter of fact; the state of Illinois itself has one of the largest sundown town populations—it is estimated that about 145 exist.

    Furthermore, Loewen’s research suggests that the “modern” sundown town can be a neighborhood or a suburb that is all-white. Thus, the idea that “Blacks simply don’t live” in certain places exists, historically, because they were banned from and threatened in those very places. What we see today as a conspicuously white neighborhood very likely has a “sundown” history or angle.

    The New Sundown Town Mentality

    Sundown towns were not just places, but a mentality (a way of thinking). This is a crucial aspect in understanding what sundown towns mean for race relations today. In the 1890s, this “sundown” mentality started as one of racial segregation, but today the sundown town mentality has taken the form of economic segregation and inequality.

    The truth is, African-Americans moved to northern cities and were confined to ghettos not because they chose to, but because they needed to in order to live normal lives. As such (something with which even Loewen agrees) the poverty and under-education among African-Americans is a result of their exclusion from wealthier suburban areas and better school districts.

    Mostly white and all-White neighborhoods, historically, have better schools, more safety and police involvement, and better infrastructure. African-Americans have been confined to inferior, urban areas and have had more limited opportunities. No matter what conservative Republican politicians like Paul Ryan will have their “base” voters believe, the lack of economic security among “urban males” has little to do with their supposed lack of initiative, and everything to do with the sub-par opportunities they’ve been given.

  3. rikyrah says:

    Viewing every black student as at-risk: Are we pathologizing children rather than helping them?

    By Maureen Downey

    Here is an interesting piece by University of Georgia professor Peter Smagorinsky on the over application of “at-risk” labels in school data collections.

    Smagorinsky says data collection is an example of the expected bureaucratic time-wasting built into organizational life. But he says the new wave of data gathering required of teachers is more than simply irritating and frustrating. It requires teachers judge which students are at risk for school failure based on broad demographic data that essentially leave only group label free — white middle-class kids.

    As Smagorinsky notes: “Every student who is not a native-English speaking white kid from a relatively affluent family must be categorized as at-risk; and relatively affluent, native-English speaking white students are treated in this system as free of risk factors.”

    As a former teacher, Smagorinsky points out some of his least successful students were suburban children of wealth, saying, “They were at-risk for living lives without consequences, which is not among the markers of at-riskness in the bureaucratic world of education.”

  4. rikyrah says:


    A White Girl Said She Was Shoved. A Black Boy Denied It. Guess Who Went To The Principal’s Office?

    The eight young men in this video are full of unfair stories like the one at 1:24 about being sent to the principal’s office. Some of the tales are frustrating, some are heartbreaking, some are rage-inducing. But the saddest part? They’re used to it. And despite being young, they have a brilliant analysis about why.

  5. rikyrah says:

    These were programs that got Black people INTO TRADE UNIONS, which, you should know, is ridiculously impossible in Chicago.

    I’ll say it again…



    but, programs that help kids find professions…kids that won’t be going to college, but COULD find a very decent living by working with their hands..

    they can’t find money for that.

    uh huh
    uh huh


    Budget critics air laundry list of school cuts

    By: Sarah Karp / July 17, 2014
    Tags: finance and budgets librarians school budgets

    With a new mandate that students have daily gym class and a policy calling for more arts instruction, school librarians are becoming increasingly rare, speakers charged at hearings on the district’s budget. At the Kennedy-King College hearing, one of three held late Wednesday, speakers also criticized cuts to Simeon High’s career education programs, cuts to welcoming schools that took in students displaced by closings, the additional money being funneled to charters and a plan to save $6 million by reorganizing bus aides for disabled students.


    imeon’s career education loses out

    Another principal decision that came under fire was the decision to close the electrician program at Simeon Vocational High School. Latisa Kindred said she was laid off after the principal and the network office decided the school could no longer afford the program, and that an automotive teacher was laid off as well.

    Kindred told the budget panel that she had been able to get students certified as well as into a union. “Working with their hands gives students hope,” she said. “I want to know how [career education] decisions are made? What guidelines are principals given when they make these autonomous decisions?”

    Asean Johnson’s mother Shoneice Reynolds said she was at a meeting at Simeon about these cuts on Tuesday night and many students came out to speak about the importance of the programs. “It was a beautiful meeting and we invited CPS and the fact that you did not come shows you do not care about our children,” she said.

    Also, an older gentleman spoke about being able to make a living based on his participation with the electrician program at Simeon.

  6. rikyrah says:

    Who Gets to Speak on Cable News?

    The identity of the whitest, malest show we found may surprise you

    By Peter Hart

    All In With Chris Hayes had the most ethnically diverse guestlist we found on cable news.

    A survey of major cable news discussion programs shows a stunning lack of diversity among the guests.

    FAIR surveyed five weeks of broadcasts of the interview/discussion segments on several leading one-hour cable shows: CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360° and OutFront With Erin Burnett, All In With Chris Hayes and the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, and Fox News Channel’s O’Reilly Factor and Hannity.

    Guests were coded by gender, race/ethnicity and occupation, as well as the affiliations of partisan guests-those who are identified with a party as current or former government officials or campaign professionals.

    Data was collected during the first two weeks of February, the first week of March and the first two weeks of April. (Fewer weeks were monitored in March to limit the distorting effects of the singular focus on the missing Malaysian plane story.) Guests who appeared in interview or roundtable segments were the only appearances that were included; taped segments, which normally include a correspondent and soundbites from various guests, were excluded.

    In total, there were 1,015 guests in the five-week period. Maddow was an outlier with only 49 guests during the study period; the other shows ranged from All In with 164 to AC360 and OutFront, both with 212.

    Among guests with a partisan affiliation, Democrats outnumbered Republicans, 104 to 84. That is almost entirely due to the lopsided nature of partisan-identified guests on MSNBC. All In With Chris Hayes had a 35-7 advantage for Democrats, while Rachel Maddow had 12 Democrats to two Republicans.

  7. rikyrah says:

    ‘The Talk’ beats ‘The View’ in key demos for first time ever
    July 17, 2014, 12:28 PM EST
    By Tim Kenneally

    CBS’ daytime talker “The Talk” hit a major milestone last week, beating out its ABC rival “The View” in the key demos for the first time ever.

    For the week ending July 13, “The Talk” — which features Sharon Osbourne, Julie Chen and Sara Gilbert — beat out “The View” in the women 18-49 demographic by 14 percent, notching a 0.8 rating /.05 share compared to a 0.7/05 for “The View.”

    Also from TheWrap: Joy Behar on Upcoming Rosie O’Donnell Season: ‘The View’ Will Go for ‘Fireworks’

    Among women 25-54, “The Talk” also emerged triumphant, besting “The View” by 10 percent with a 1.1/07 versus a 1.0/7 for “The View.”

    Compared to the previous week, “The Talk” grew 23 percent in total viewers for the week ending July 13, averaging 2.66 million. In the demos, the growth was even sharper. Among women 18-49, “The Talk” grew 60 percent, while the show surged 38 percent in women 25-54.

    In addition to the ratings defeat, “The View” has suffered much tumult in recent weeks, with the announcements that both Sherri Shepherd and Jenny McCarthy will be departing the show. Following news of their imminent departures, it was announced that Rosie O’Donnell, who previously served as a panelist on the show, would be returning to the series.

  8. rikyrah says:

    Broadway legend Elaine Stritch dead at 89
    July 17, 2014, 12:57 PM EST
    Entertainment Tonight

    Broadway great Elaine Stritch died on Thursday morning, according to The New York Times. She was 89.

    Though the five-time Tony nominee is perhaps best known for her stage presence (“Bus Stop,” “Sail Away,” “Company”), her TV and film resume is also quite impressive.

    From 2008-2013, she was nominated for an Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Primetime Emmy for her role as Colleen Donaghy, the mother of Alec Baldwin’s character Jack Donaghy on “30 Rock.” In 1993, she won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for “Law & Order.”

    She’s also appeared in two Woody Allen movies, “September” (1987) and “Small Time Crooks” (2000). Her other more recent film credits include “Monster In Law” (2005), “Autumn In New York” (2000), “Screwed” (2000) and “Out to Sea” (1997).

    As far as her musical background, Stritch has starred in “No No Nanette,” “The King and I” and “I Married an Angel.” She was also nominated for a Grammy Award in 2005 for Best Spoken Word Album for Children for “The Best Halloween Ever.” The actress was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1995.

    Stritch was married to John Bay in 1973. He passed away in 1982.

  9. rikyrah says:

    GOP governor implements GOP economics, disaster ensues

    By Paul Waldman July 16 at 12:28 PM 

    While we’ve gotten used to Tea Party primary challenges to popular and seemingly secure Republican incumbents, something unusual is happening in Kansas. Governor Sam Brownback is facing an organized revolt from centrist Republicans, over 100 of whom just endorsed the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor, so disgruntled are they with the effects of Brownback’s rule.

    In many ways, Brownback’s term has been a perfect experiment in Republican governance. Take a crusading conservative governor, give him a legislature with Republican super-majorities so he can do pretty much whatever he wants, and let him implement the right’s wish list. The result was supposed to be a nirvana of economic growth and budgetary stability. But the opposite happened.

    The disastrous results of Brownback’s economic and fiscal policies demonstrate that it’s one thing for your average Republican to go around saying things like “cutting taxes raises revenue!” even if nearly every economist agrees that the idea is absurd (Greg Mankiw, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under George W. Bush, famously called the purveyors of this idea “charlatans and cranks”). It’ll never really be tested, at least not in a context where there aren’t so many other variables at play that any inconvenient results can be explained away. Republicans know that it’s bogus, but they like the way it sounds; after all, who wouldn’t love a free lunch? But if you bet a single state’s future on the idea — and you have the power to take it to an extreme — you’re going farther than anyone in Washington ever has to go.

  10. rikyrah says:

    @Gawker: What does Hollywood racism look like? This “Straight Outta Compton” casting call.

    from the casting call:

    GIRLS: These are the hottest of the hottest. Models. MUST have real hair – no extensions, very classy looking, great bodies. You can be black, white, asian, hispanic, mid eastern, or mixed race too. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: subject line should read: A GIRLS

    B GIRLS: These are fine girls, long natural hair, really nice bodies. Small waists, nice hips. You should be light-skinned. Beyonce is a prototype here. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: subject line should read: B GIRLS

    C GIRLS: These are African American girls, medium to light skinned with a weave. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: subject line should read: C GIRLS

    D GIRLS: These are African American girls. Poor, not in good shape. Medium to dark skin tone. Character types. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: subject line should read: D GIRLS

    • Ametia says:

      WHAT IN THE HELL? So let me get this straight. These women are to grade, demean, Denigrate themselves according to this bullshit.

      LOL Wonder what Beyoncé thinks about her B-GRADING.

  11. Ametia says:

    A Malaysia Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur has crashed in eastern Ukraine, Russian news agency Interfax reported today.

    Get complete coverage of breaking news on CNN TV, and CNN Mobile.

  12. Ametia says:

    American blues guitarist and singer Johnny Winter died Wednesday in a hotel room in Switzerland, his representative said today.

    He was 70.

    “His wife, family and bandmates are all saddened by the loss of their loved one and one of the world’s finest guitarists,” spokeswoman Lori Haynes said.

  13. Rikyrah, I meant to comment on the music yesterday but I got distracted by the sheriff publishing the route of the refugee children and the killing of those 4 Palestinian boys.

    The series is wonderful. I love all the music, everyone song. Brings back such sweet memories.

    If I was feeling up to it, I’d dance to People Make The World Go Round this morning. But my heart is sad.

  14. rikyrah says:

    another dudebro. Give me a break about the libertarian bullshyt. They are nothing but fucking Republicans.

    When the fuck have Republican COMPROMISED.

    Middle of the road?


    Tech mogul Sean Parker ramps up GOP giving

    By ALEXANDER BURNS | 7/14/14 5:01 AM EDT Updated: 7/15/14 5:43 AM EDT

    Silicon Valley billionaire Sean Parker has sharply ramped up his political giving to Republicans, directing upwards of half a million dollars to GOP candidates and causes during the most recent quarter of 2014, sources said.

    Parker, the Napster co-founder and former Facebook president, boosted six Republicans seeking reelection – most significantly by donating $350,000 to a super PAC supporting Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran as he battled tea party challenger Chris McDaniel.


    Parker, who has recruited new advisers this year to help focus his political activities, has expressed a strong interest in backing middle-of-the-road candidates with a demonstrated interest in compromise and deal-making.

    “The theme across the board is encouraging or supporting elected officials who have shown themselves willing to work across the aisle,” Parker said in an interview earlier this year.

    POLITICO reported in April that Parker was embarking on an effort to carve out a space for himself in the electoral arena, seeking out advice from the Messina Group – the consulting firm founded by Obama’s former campaign manager – and longtime Washington GOP operator Charlie Black.

    The billionaire has made sustained overtures to national Republicans whom he and his advisers view as more moderate conservative voices on economic policy: He has met in Washington with Roskam, Simpson and Tiberi, among other Republican lawmakers, to speak about issues including how to drive economic investment to distressed areas of the country.

    Read more:

  15. rikyrah says:

    Did They Do This On Purpose?
    by BooMan
    Wed Jul 16th, 2014 at 07:50:42 PM EST

    Anytime Israel does anything militarily there are going to be accidents and there are going to be civilians that get hurt and killed, and the opponents of Israel will obviously make the most of those incidents for influencing world opinion. But sometimes Israel does things that just seem so incredibly counterproductive that I feel like they must be intentional. Why would they attack boys playing hide and seek on the beach right in front of the Al-Deira hotel where many journalists are staying to cover the conflict?

    Of course, I understand that it’s possible that this attack was done in error. But I think this man makes a lot of sense:

    As the reporters left, Mohammad Abu Watfah was wheeled out of a lift after surgery to remove the shrapnel in his stomach. As relatives gathered not far from the Al-Deira hotel to bury the four dead boys, barely 90 minutes after the attack on the beach, the boys’ uncle, Abdel Kareem Baker, 41, said: “It’s a cold-blooded massacre. It’s a shame they didn’t identify them as kids with all of the advanced technology they claim they’re using.”

    Earlier in the article it was mentioned that all the victims were members of “the extended Bakr family.” Could this have been collective punishment for the transgressions of the patriarch? Did Israel know precisely who they were attacking?

    I think this is a stronger possibility than that their drone operators can’t distinguish boys playing on the beach from members of Hamas.

    And, if this is correct, then Israel actually wants the bad publicity because the whole point is to get families to insist that no one within their extended family have anything to do with Hamas lest the Israelis liquidate them all. The more people who hear of this tragedy the better because it will have more deterrent effect.

    It might not even be the worst strategy for killing the resistance, but it’s impossible to reconcile with any human rights standard I can think of.

  16. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

  17. yahtzeebutterfly says:

    Good Morning, Everyone!

    I am enjoying the music you are bringing us this week, rikyrah.

    Love the Stylistics!

    “I can hardly wait for the day when we say ‘I do’!”

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