July 29, 2009

Archie Bell and The Drells//Tighten Up

The previous song is undoubtably a tough act to follow, but if some song's gotta do it, this is the one.

I think Ali first played this song for me, putting it on a mix, perhaps after Kate played it for her. Later, I played it for my dad, and he remembered it instantly, singing along.

There's a lot to love about this song. Archie Bell's truly energetic while also strangely laid-back voice seems to me to exhibit the ultimate in cool. And of course, The Drells are thoroughly tightened up. All this is captured remarkably well on analog recording technology, to give us a sound that's rich and well-balanced.

A little more info, from Wikipedia:

Archie Bell (born September 1, 1944, Henderson, Texas), (the older brother of world karate champion (and lead vocalist of Motown's Dazz Band) Jerry Bell, Eugene Bell Sr. and NFL player Ricky Bell (1955-1984)) moved to Houston as a young boy and formed the group in 1966 with his friends James Wise, Willie Parnell and Billy Butler. They signed with the Houston based record label, Ovide, in 1967 and recorded a number of songs including "She's My Woman" and "Tighten Up".

Surprisingly, Bell's promoter, Skipper Lee Frazier, began unsuccessfully pushing the flip side of "Tighten Up", but at the recommendation of a friend gave the other side a try. "Tighten Up", written by Archie Bell and Billy Butler, became a hit in Houston, and was picked up by Atlantic Records for distribution in April 1968. By the summer it topped both the Billboard R&B and pop charts. It also received a R.I.A.A. gold disc by selling 1 million copies. The line in "Tighten Up", "we dance just as good as we walk" was a little ironic, given that Bell had been shot in the leg and was consigned to a military hospital bed at the time. However the Army began allowing him to tour later in the year and discharged him on April 15, 1969.

So, what exactly was The Tighten Up? You can check it out (and memorize it for future dance parties) here.

Tighten Up.mp3

We don't only sing,
But we dance just as good as we walk.
In Houston, we just started a new dance, called "The Tighten Up."
This is the music we "Tighten Up" with.

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