The Dells

Reminiscing

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When a vocal group lasts three or four decades there's a strong possibility that it has had some personnel changes over the years. You could write a book about all the different Temptations lineups that have existed, but at least they are justified in continuing to use that name -- if any group has the audacity to call itself the Ink Spots or the Mills Brothers in the 21st Century, it is guilty of blatantly false advertising. But amazingly, the Dells still had most of their original members after almost half a century. On 2000's excellent Reminiscing, four members of the original 1952 lineup are still on board -- Marvin Junior, Verne Allison, Michael McGill, and Chuck Barksdale -- and the newest member is Johnny Carter, who joined in the early 1960s. Their voices have held up well over time; from Junior's gritty baritone to Carter's smooth tenor, the Dells continue to sing with a lot of conviction. Thankfully they have strong material to work with on Reminiscing, which often sounds like it could have been recorded in the '70s instead of 2000. While the Dells' last album, I Salute You (1992), tried to balance soul and urban contemporary considerations, Reminiscing is pure, unapologetic Northern soul. Gems like "I Need You" and "Say That You'll Stay" make no effort to be relevant to the hip-hop-minded urban contemporary scene of 2000, and that's just as well. Reminiscing falls short of essential and isn't quite in a class with the Dells' classic 1960s and '70s recordings, but it's a solid, rewarding CD that the group's diehard fans will appreciate.

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