As the Seventies ended and disco pushed into the mainstream, those who came of age during that period always seemed to be reminded that they had missed out on the great cultural revolution of the raging Sixties. As many recall, former Beatle John Lennon himself pretty much summed it up when he declared - in one of his last interviews - that the seventies "were a drag."
But thirty years later, there has been a renewed interest in the sounds of the Seventies, thanks in large part to the popularity of films that featured the decade's music. Titles ranging from Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction to Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous to Spike Lee's Summer of Sam reminded audiences how much they loved those songs. And that, plus copious sampling by popular hip-hop artists, eventually gave a new lease on life to groups like the Stylistics, who are headlining the current Seventies Soul Jam tour.
Formed in Philadelphia in the late sixties, this four-piece vocal group found great success during the first half of the Seventies under the tutelage of producer Thom Bell, who gave them hits like "You Made Me Feel Brand New, " "You Are Everything," and "Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)." Their signature sound came from the unmistakable falsetto of lead vocalist Russell Thompkins, Jr., who acrimoniously left the group in 2000 (he has since formed his own group, The New Stylistics). Founders Herbie Murrell and Airrion Love continue to soldier on, playing the disco and soul revival circuit with new members Van Fields and Harold Eban Brown. According to the band's web site, they have a new CD -- the first in decades -- slated for release in 2009.
Rounding out the lineup for the rest of the soul jam evening are South Florida's own Heatwave ("Boogie Nights"), Harold Melvin's Blue Notes ("If You Don't Know Me By Now"), and Main Ingredient ("Just Don't Want To Be Lonely"). It should be a long night - not that anyone is complaining.
Thursday, January 15, the Bernard and Chris Marden Stage at the Raymond F. Kravis Center for
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the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach. Show starts
at 8 p.m.; remaining available orchestra-level tickets cost $100.
-- Ernest Barteldes