When The Stylistics released their 1971 self-titled debut album, they had everything a new group (or even a veteran group for that matter) could ask for: A hit record, worldwide popularity, and songs that would be forever etched in the hearts and memories of music lovers for years to come. How could a group go wrong with Russell Thompkins, Jr.’s incredible falsetto and songs like “People Make the World Go Round,” “You Are Everything,” “Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)” and “Betcha by Golly Wow!”? No surprise, the album made it to number three on the Billboard R&B chart. In the next two years they released “I’m Stone in Love with You,” “Let’s Put It All Together,” “Break Up to Make Up” and the group’s mega-hit “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” which made it to the Top 10 in the U.K as well as the pop, R&B and adult contemporary charts in the states. Since then, their music has been covered by artists as varied as Prince, Aaron Neville, Angela Bofill, and Pat Metheny. Now, as Russell Thompkins, Jr. and The New Stylistics, the group continues to perform with members Raymond Johnson, once the group’s guitar player; Jonathan Buckson, a music writer and producer; and James Ranton, also the group’s choreographer. After forty years, the music of The Stylistics–accompanied by Thompkins’ superlative and unparalleled voice– still pleases audiences. The New Stylistics continue to perform some of the most memorable ballads in modern music.
Montrose Cunningham is an independent funk/rock/soul artist and devoted music aficionado residing in Dallas, Texas. When he isn’t digging through the crates–digital and analog–he’s jamming with his band or hanging with his daughters, sometimes both at the same time. Purchase his latest release “Inertia” at www.MontroseMusic.com, visit him online at Facebook, and follow him on Twitter @MontroseC.