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About The Stylistics

The Stylistics are an American, Philadelphia soul group that achieved their greatest chart success in the 1970s. They formed in 1968, with a lineup of singers Russell Thompkins Jr., Herb Murrell, Airrion Love, James Smith and James Dunn. All of their US hits were ballads characterized by the falsetto of Russell Thompkins Jr. and the production of Thom Bell. During the early 1970s, the group had twelve consecutive R&B top ten hits, including "Stop, Look, Listen", "You Are Everything", "Betcha by Golly, Wow", "I'm Stone in Love with You", "Break Up to Make Up" and "You Make Me Feel Brand New", which earned them 5 gold singles and 3 gold albums.

The Stylistics were created from two Philadelphia groups, The Percussions and The Monarchs. Russell Thompkins Jr., James Smith and Airrion Love came from the Monarchs, and James Dunn and Herb Murrell came from the Percussions. In 1970, the group recorded "You're a Big Girl Now", a song their road manager Marty Bryant co-wrote with Robert Douglas, a member of their backing band Slim and the Boys, and the single became a regional hit for Sebring Records. Producer Bill Perry spent $400 to record the song in the Virtue Studios in Philadelphia. The larger Avco Records soon signed the Stylistics, and the single eventually climbed to No. 7 on the US Billboard R&B chart in early 1971.

After signing to Avco, the record label approached producer Thom Bell, who had already produced a catalogue of hits for The Delfonics, to work with the group. The Stylistics auditioned for Bell, but he was initially unimpressed. He ultimately agreed to produce the group because he believed in the potential of lead singer Russell Thompkins, Jr.'s distinctive, nasal high tenor and falsetto voice. Avco gave Bell complete creative control over the Stylistics and he proceeded to focus the group's sound exclusively around Thompkins's voice. On most of the group hits, Bell would have Thompkins sing virtually solo.

The first song recorded with Bell and his collaborator, lyricist Linda Creed, was "Stop, Look, Listen".

Their hits from this period — distilled from three albums — included "Betcha by Golly, Wow" , "I'm Stone in Love with You", "Break Up to Make Up" , "You Make Me Feel Brand New" featuring Thompkins singing a lead vocal duet with Airrion Love, "Stop, Look, Listen ", "You Are Everything" and the Top 20 pop chart hit "Rockin' Roll Baby" . "You Make Me Feel Brand New", the group's biggest U.S. hit, holding at No. 2 for two weeks in 1974, was one of the group's five U.S. gold singles.

The Stylistics also found a path on to adult contemporary airwaves, and the group made Billboard magazine's Easy Listening singles chart twelve times from 1971 to 1976, with three entries ") reaching the Top 10. Every single that Bell produced for the Stylistics was a Top Ten R&B hit, and several — "You Are Everything", "Betcha by Golly Wow!", "I'm Stone in Love with You", "Break Up to Make Up" and "You Make Me Feel Brand New" — were also Top Ten pop chart hits. The group also enjoyed commercial success with hits with this material throughout Europe.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "The Stylistics", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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