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Hard Not To Like It (2014)

Archie Bell & The Drells

... read moreOf the four records Archie Bell & the Drells recorded for Gamble & Huff in the 1970s, Hard Not to Like It is arguably the strongest. Cut in 1977 at the height of disco fever, the Drells were certainly on the pulse of what was happening, as evidenced here. The set opens with "Glad You Could Make It,...

Review

Of the four records Archie Bell & the Drells recorded for Gamble & Huff in the 1970s, Hard Not to Like It is arguably the strongest. Cut in 1977 at the height of disco fever, the Drells were certainly on the pulse of what was happening, as evidenced here. The set opens with "Glad You Could Make It," a slippery backbeat groover that walks the line between hard, funky soul and disco. With the keyboard sounds tipping it in the mirror-ball direction, the bassline and backbone-slipping rhythm push it in the other. And for those who attribute the disco handclap sound to Chic, better take a listen here first. "Disco Showdown" is one of the first appearances of the "disco duck," with a killer calypso rhythm and horn line that might at first seem out of place on a modern disco plate; give it another couple of seconds and it turns itself inside out and becomes a thumping, roiling-floor track, though it cuts back to the calypso melody for the refrain. "Disco Fever" and "On the Road" rely much more on the funk groove-nee Ohio Players and Sly. On "It's Hard Not to Like You," the Drells bring all the inherent contradictions into one tune: It's a soul tune with a gorgeous chorus and a shimmering stroll of a funky backbeat groove, but the bassline and the textures in the strings and keyboards are pure disco heat. The set closes with a ballad, oddly enough, "I've Been Missing You." This is a fine testament to the diversity of the Drells, as they deliver this with the same conviction they put into their amazing and unreleased version of "Patches." In all, this is a fine addition to the Drells' catalog, even a necessary one. ~ Thom Jurek

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