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If You Come Back to Me

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Album Review

Having recorded some of their most essential work for Stax/Volt in the early '70s, the Dramatics were an obvious choice when Fantasy reactivated Volt in 1999. Although 1999's If You Come Back to Me isn't in a class with the Motor City soulsters' classic '70s output for Stax/Volt and ABC, it's a respectable outing that finds the voices of Ron Banks (the only remaining original member), L.J. Reynolds, Willie Ford, Wenzell Kelly, and Lenny Mayes, continuing to hold up nicely. No, there isn't another "Whacha See Is What You Get" or another "In The Rain," but diehard fans of the veteran group will be glad to hear how good they sound on such romantic ballads as "Hello Love" (which features Angel Sessions, one of the younger artists Volt signed in 1999), "Maddy," and "If You Come Back to Me." The most intriguing track, however, is an unlikely recording of the 16th Century British folk song "Scarborough Fair," which the Dramatics successfully give an R&B/pop makeover. Coincidentally, they weren't the only R&B artists to record "Scarborough Fair" in 1999 — Samantha Siva, a very promising urban contemporary singer who grew up in Manchester, England but currently lives in New York, gives the classic her own unique and personal interpretation on her second album, Identity. While Siva's interpretation is more hypnotic and subtle, the Dramatics' version finds Reynolds doing some gritty, gospel-influenced belting that somehow manages to bring the African-American church to the English countryside. But, as satisfying as it is, If You Come Back to Me won't go down in history as one of the Dramatics' essential albums — for casual listeners, The Best of the Dramatics (Fantasy's 16-song collection of their early '70s hits) would be a much better purchase. Even so, this CD demonstrated that they were still capable of delivering a meaningful album as they prepared to enter the 21st Century.

Biography

Formed: 1962 in Detroit, MI

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Before assuming the name the Dramatics, the vocal sextet comprised of Rob Davis, Ron Banks, Larry Reed, Robert Ellington, Larry "Squirrel" Demps, and Elbert Wilkens initially released two singles as the Dynamics on the Wingate imprint that saw no chart action. The group became a quintet upon Ellington's exit, and also changed their name to the Dramatics. They migrated to the Sport label and in 1967 released their first single to hit the charts, "All Because of You," which peaked at number 42 on the...
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If You Come Back to Me, The Dramatics
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