The Dramatics

Mellow Drama

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This CD proves that precious sounds can sometimes be found by exploring the vaults or reels of tapes ignored by record companies. Released in 1995, these tracks were recorded in 1972; Johnny Burton, Glynis Martin, and Don Davis updated the unreleased selections, even adding a rapper on one cut to achieve an amazing mixture of the old and the new. Intended as a tribute to the late Tony Hester, most of the cuts are his compositions, one notable exception being the opening track, "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show," written by V. Burks and G. Martin; it's not the Honey Cone hit, but a slow, self-asserting ballad that improves with each listening. "Hurt By Love" is a moving testimonial led by L.J. Reynolds; it's so soulful you'd think they recorded it in Muscle Shoals, AL, and not Detroit. Rapper K.D. adds some nice jabs to the infectious "You Sexy Devil You"; the horns are tastefully arranged on this mover, and Ron Banks, Lenny Mayes, Willie Ford, and Larry Demps sound as good as ever. (The CD cover depicts the Dramatics with a newer member who wasn't around when this was recorded.) Ron Banks' falsetto soars on "Cloud Nine" (not the Temptations song) like a flock of birds circling for flight. The relevancy of "Space Age" to what's happening now is eerie. Tony writes about a drug-addicted, fast, fly lady who's not unlike the crack-addicted strawberry walking the streets today. A longer remixed version of "Space Age" closes out the CD. Both versions are spectacular, with a stuttering "May Day, May Day" introduction, a slick rap, sassy lyrics, and the Dramatics switching leads like they were tossing a basketball around; a muted trumpet plays some well-spaced horn hits that will get you stepping. This CD is more satisfying than their Fantasy & MCA releases, and compares favorably to their latter works on ABC Records.

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