The Stylistics

The Best of the Stylistics, Vol. 2

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Just a year removed from their incredible run of early-'70s hits for Philly soul producer Thom Bell, the Stylistics began an association with the H&L (Hugo & Luigi) label that lasted from 1975-1977. While the glory days brought about by smashes like "You Are Everything" and "Betcha By Golly Wow" did not return during the H&L stay, the group did have some success with a few British hits. Part of the reason for the drop-off certainly was due to the almost total absence of Bell's sophisticated, soul-symphonic arrangements. This is made clear by the inclusion of the one Bell production that opens the disc: a rendition of Bacharach/David's "You'll Never Get to Heaven (If You Break My Heart)" that surpasses most of the remaining tracks on the record. This is not to say there aren't other worthwhile cuts here, especially considering the quality of H&L productions like the U.K. chart-toppers "Sing Baby Sing" and "Na-Na Is the Saddest Word," as well as updated Philly-bump charmers like "Sixteen Bars" and "Hey Girl, Come and Get It." Maybe not the group's finest hour, but an essential collection for fans all the same. Incredibly, a comprehensive collection of the Stylistics' fruitful output from the '70s has yet to been released. Until that great day, check out both volumes of the band's hits reissued on the Amherst label.

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