Sweet sounds of the 70s with The Stylistics
“You can relieve your life through music; I think that’s great,” says Herb Murrell of The Stylistics, who come to the Ipswich Regent this Sunday.
“Good music, once it’s there and makes it’s little mark on the music industry never goes anywhere; especially when you put on a song and it takes you back to say your youth - the days when you were back in school, your first girlfriend, boyfriend.”
He knows what he’s talking about.
Their hits - like Rockin’ Roll Baby, Break Up to Make Up, You Make Me Feel Brand New and Can’t Give You Anything (But My Love) to name but a few - are as popular today as they were back in the late 60s and 70s.
The Stylistics formed in Philadelphia in the late 60s from two different groups - The Monarchs and The Percussions. When members from each went on to further education or were drafted those left, under the guidance of their high school English teacher Beverly Hamilton, joined forces.
The rest, as they say, is history.
“We were very fortunate and blessed from the beginning of our career to work with great producers like Thom Bell, along with the lyricist and writer the late great Linda Creed who penned most of all those songs that we did at that time. We were very fortunate that very first album had all those hits on,” says Herb, who along with Airrion Love was part of the original line-up.
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“We’ll do as many hits as we can during the show,” promises Herb; who says the addition of new lead singer Eban Brown and vocalist Van Fields has taken what they do to another level.
“We were fortunate to find somebody of his [Eban’s] calibre to replace our lead singer Russell Thompkins. Russell had this unique sounding tenor unlike any other tenors out there; to find somebody that could come in and still allow us to have that same sound, we were very blessed.
“With Eban and Van we’re now able to do a lot of songs that people would always request from us that we’ve never done in the past years of coming here, so it gives a freshness to each show and adds excitement to it. We’re looking forward to the show very much.”
The Stylistics aren’t ones to just stand in front of a mic and sing at the audience; expect to be on your feet singing and dancing along with them.
“Every song we’re doing there’s choreography to it and we’re very concerned and care about reproducing that same sound you’ve heard on the records over the years - even though those records were recorded with full orchestras and stuff of that nature. But the calibre of musicians we have with us come as close as possible to reproducing the sound of those records from that time.
“As the saying goes, all the way live not Memorex,” he laughs. “It’s got to be live. When you think about folks spending their hard earned money to come out to see you, you have to do everything within your power to make sure they have a good time – get them singing along with you, up and dancing with you.”
The group’s fans, to borrow a line from one of their greatest hits, are everything to them.
“We have our fans who grew up with us, their children are coming out and now they’re bringing their children, you know what I’m saying; and it’s exciting to look into the audience and see young folk coming along into our music.
“We get people come up and say to us ‘I know your song because my mom and dad played your songs all the time, so we’d be around the house singing ‘em right along with ‘em. As I got older my kids are listening to my songs and loving it and we bring them out to the show to see you, to let them know what our music was about then and they seem to enjoy themselves’.”
In this era of one-hit wonders and throwaway music, you could ask why a 70s soul band from Philly have endured. For Herb, the answer’s simple - the songs and their passion for performing.
“You have to care about what you’re doing - you’ve got to put on a show and bring that passion to the stage. Once you lose the passion for what you’re doing and start going through the motions it’s time to pull the plug and hang it up, you know what I mean.
“We just want to say thank you to all our fans for your support over the years, God bless you all and we’ll keep on keeping on as long as we can.”