9 Songs, 29 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

After the great Philadelphia arranger Thom Bell had made stars of The Delfonics, he turned his attention to The Stylistics, a long-running Philadelphia harmony group that was in search of Bell’s golden touch. Bell became enamored of the vocals of frontman Russell Thompkins Jr., whose pinched falsetto was strikingly similar to the singers Bell had worked with in The Delfonics. Using Thompkins’ voice as a focal point, Bell constructed The Stylistics’ eponymous debut and furthered his quest for the ideal cherubic soul sound. Of the hits it spawned, take your pick: “Stop, Look, Listen to Your Heart,” “Betcha by Golly, Wow,” and “You’re a Big Girl Now” are feathered and airy, the pinnacle of Bell’s vision for white-cloud R&B music. For all their cleanliness, these songs have an eerie undercurrent that becomes explicit on “People Make the World Go Round.” That track might not be the album’s most enjoyable song, but it's the most interesting; its pensive, descending pattern gives the impression of a darkening delirium, and its vignettes of working people provide a spike of the realism that was emerging in harmony soul music.

EDITORS’ NOTES

After the great Philadelphia arranger Thom Bell had made stars of The Delfonics, he turned his attention to The Stylistics, a long-running Philadelphia harmony group that was in search of Bell’s golden touch. Bell became enamored of the vocals of frontman Russell Thompkins Jr., whose pinched falsetto was strikingly similar to the singers Bell had worked with in The Delfonics. Using Thompkins’ voice as a focal point, Bell constructed The Stylistics’ eponymous debut and furthered his quest for the ideal cherubic soul sound. Of the hits it spawned, take your pick: “Stop, Look, Listen to Your Heart,” “Betcha by Golly, Wow,” and “You’re a Big Girl Now” are feathered and airy, the pinnacle of Bell’s vision for white-cloud R&B music. For all their cleanliness, these songs have an eerie undercurrent that becomes explicit on “People Make the World Go Round.” That track might not be the album’s most enjoyable song, but it's the most interesting; its pensive, descending pattern gives the impression of a darkening delirium, and its vignettes of working people provide a spike of the realism that was emerging in harmony soul music.

TITLE TIME

Ratings and Reviews

4.6 out of 5
42 Ratings
42 Ratings
Ess Eff Arr ,

Truly Amazing

Although I wasn't born until 1968, I am pretty familiar with the Stylistics' songs (thanks to 5 older siblings). But what I didn't know was that "Stop, Look, Listen", "Betcha By Golly, Wow", "You're a Big Girl Now", "You Are Everything", and "People Make the World Go Round" were all on the same album. I say again, truly amazing!

brohow ,

"Timeless"

Let's give credit where credit's due, when these cats got together with the great Thom Bell (GTB) vocal soul as we knew it went in a whole 'nother direction. I mean where in the heck did he get the idea to use oboes, basoons and other instruments I couldn't even imagine. And it didn't hurt to have Russell Thompkins Jr. on the team either. And with Linda Creed supplying the lyrics this was a match made in vocal land heaven. They dropped off a tad after their first three albums, but with GTB at the helm this is what you call "timeless" vocal soul at it's best! By the way, I'm still looking for the girl.

KADossVA ,

Stop, Look, Listen (and Buy)!

The debut album of the Stylistics is an outstanding example of the classic R&B music of the early 70's. There are 5 essential songs by the group on this album - "Stop, Look, Listen (to Your Heart), "Betcha By Golly Wow (full length version), "You're a Big Girl Now", "You Are Everything", and the simply amazing full length version of "People Make the World Go Round". Even the filler is very good, "Country Living" and "Ebony Eyes" are upbeat cuts that are similar to "Rockin' Roll Baby". "Point of No Return" is a midtempo song that will keep feet tapping and "If I Love You" is a solid love song that might have been a hit in its own right had it not been on an album with so many other great songs. "The Stylistics" is essential listening ("Round 2" is also a 5 star record) and is absolute proof of Thom Bell's genius.

More By The Stylistics

You May Also Like