Saturday, 16 February 2019

The Dramatics - Stax Classics

  

The Dramatics were a Detroit vocal group who had been around since 1964 before they briefly made it with a couple of hits in 1971. They were in the shadow of The Stylistics, The Chi-Lites, The Detroit Spinners and The Delfonics in their particular field of soul, however. The four members from these classic years all passed away early, in their forties or fifties, three of whom from heart attacks, which was quite tragic.

TRACK LISTING

1. In The Rain
2. Watcha See Is Watcha Get
3. Get Up And Get Down
4. Hey You! Get Off My Mountain
5. And I Panicked
6. Your Love Was Strange
7. The Devil Is Dope
8. Thank You For Your Love
9. Toast To The Fool
10. Fall In Love, Lady Love
11. I Fell For You
12. Gimme Some (Good Soul Music)

The hits are the first two tracks on this impressive , remastered Stax compilation - “In The Rain” has a slightly reggae feel to its slow backing, although its vocal is proper smooth seventies soul. I also has a hint of Third World about it, for me. “Watcha See Is Watcha Get” was a hit single in 1971 and has a typical early seventies laid-back soul sound.

The group discover their funk in the James Brown-esque groove of  “Get Up And Get Down”. The falsetto vocal is excellent as is the lip-smacking funky guitar lick that is present throughout the song. “Hey You! Get Off My Mountain” is a Stylistics meets The Delfonics smoocher that once again is very representative of its era, in particular the super-sweet, high vocal. “And I Panicked” continues in the same vein and has a wonderfully, melodic, deep and slow bassline.

“Your Love Was Strange” is a punchy, bassy piece of grinding soul. It really pounds. It is one of my favourites of theirs. “The Devil Is Dope” begins with some infernal noises and maniacal laughter before we get a brassy, soulful message song condemning the evils of drug abuse. “Thank You For Your Love” is a very Chi-Lites influenced slow, rhythmic soul ballad. “Toast To The Fool” is a sumptuous, immaculately sung slow number that sees the group’s male voices harmonising perfectly.

“Fall In Love, Lady Love” continues in the same sweet soul vein. There is nothing ground-breaking in tracks like this, but there is nothing unplesasant either. “I Fell For You” ploughs the same furrow and features some impressive vocal gymnastics - high and low taking their turns. The collection ends with a brassy, bassy Temptations/Undisputed Truth soulful funker in “Gimme Some (Good Soul Music)”. It is a fine upbeat note upon which to end an appealing group of songs from a classic period for soul music.

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