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The Platinum Collection

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Album Review

Archie Bell & the Drells were from Houston, TX, and to take them at their word they could dance just as good as they walked...or if they couldn't, it didn't stop them from cutting a handful of great R&B dance tunes during their tenure at Atlantic Records. The Platinum Collection collects 20 tracks from the group's Atlantic catalog, and if "Tighten Up, Pt. 1" is far and away the biggest hit here, it was hardly their only memorable tune, and this compilation makes a great case for how diverse they could be. Bell and his bandmates were clearly most comfortable filling up the dancefloor, and the rough-and-ready high spirits he brought to "Tighten Up" carried through on "Do the Choo Choo," "(There's Gonna Be A) Showdown," "I Can't Stop Dancing," and a great cover of Major Lance's "The Monkey Time." But they could also make romance ("I Love My Baby"), lose romance ("When You Left, Heartache Began"), turn away underage admirers ("Girl You're Too Young"), head out to the big city ("Dog Eat Dog"), and look for some action on the rebound ("Wrap It Up") with equal panache. Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff wrote a number of Archie Bell & the Drells' most memorable sides, and while their Philadelphia International sessions with the Drells may have had more polish, on Atlantic Bell brought a gritty funk to their tunes that served them well, and this collection also includes Bell's striking cover of Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay," which he rewrote from the point of view of a soldier stationed in Germany (Bell was serving in Vietnam when "Tighten Up" belatedly hits the charts, so he certainly knew of what he spoke). While Rhino's 1994 collection Tightening It Up: The Best of Archie Bell & the Drells has a slight edge over this set, The Platinum Collection is still a first-rate overview of an underappreciated group, and this will get the party started in no time flat. Now make it mellow!


Born: 01 September 1944 in Henderson, TX

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s, '70s

Archie Bell & the Drells scored a left-field number one hit in 1968 with "Tighten Up," which epitomized the virtues of their music: funky, exuberant, danceable soul out for a rousing good time. Born in Henderson, TX, Bell grew up in Houston and began singing in church. In junior high, he joined a vocal group called Little Pop & the Fireballs, and formed the Drells in high school with friends James Wise, Huey "Billy" Butler, and Joe Cross (later replaced by Willie Pernell). The Drells won several...
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