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Archie Bell & The Drells

Vocal group Archie Bell & the Drells are known most for the funky, handclap-happy soul single "Tighten Up," a hit that reached number one on Billboard's R&B and Hot 100 charts in 1968. Bell and his Houston, Texas-based support -- which featured, at varying times, Archie's brother Lee Bell, Billy Butler, Joe Cross, Lucious Larkins, Willie Pernell, and James Wise -- went on to work extensively with Philly soul architects Kenneth Gamble and/or Leon Huff. Throughout the '70s, Bell and the Drells combined their smooth and sophisticated sound with top-rate showmanship and had amassed 20 charting singles by the end of the decade. Although their joyous dance hits were prominent, they also recorded several high-quality ballads prior to their 1980 split.

Born in Henderson, Texas and raised in Houston, Archie Bell grew up in a household that included seven brothers, including All-American football star Ricky Bell. His mother, Ruthie Bell, sang gospel and made sure her sons were involved in church-based activities. Because of his mother, Bell began singing in church at an early age. He formed Archie Bell & the Drells in his teens and started performing at local talent shows. While performing, the group was discovered by KCOH DJ Skipper Lee Frazier. Frazier had his own record label, Ovid, and on a handshake-based management deal, the Drells began recording for him. The group scored a regional hit in 1967 with "She's My Woman, She's My Girl."

Soon after, Bell was drafted to serve in Vietnam. While on short leave from the Army, Bell recorded "Tighten Up," which he and Billy Butler wrote with musical backing by the T.S.U. Toronadoes. Issued in December 1967, "Tighten Up" became a huge hit in Houston. The following May, after Atlantic picked it up for wide distribution, the song topped the Billboard R&B and Hot 100 charts for two weeks, and received a gold certification from the RIAA. The parent album, also titled Tighten Up, reached number 15 R&B and 142 pop. Bell was stationed in Germany as this developed. For performances, James Wise substituted for Bell and Charles Gibbs was brought in to add background vocals. Occasionally, Bell was allowed to return to the U.S. to do club dates.

The follow-up single, "I Can't Stop Dancing," marked the beginning of a long affiliation with production and songwriting duo Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff. It peaked at number nine on the Hot 100 and at number five on the R&B chart. Afterward, Bell and the Drells didn't threaten the pop Top Ten again, but they were a favorite among serious lovers of soul music. The group's last charting single for Atlantic was the David Crawford-produced cover of Sam & Dave's "Wrap It Up." Following one single for Henry Stone's Glades label, the successful "Dancing to Your Music," they recorded for the TSOP label, a subsidiary of Gamble and Huff's Philadelphia International Records, and quickly moved to PIR proper. This period was highlighted by the number 11 R&B album Dance Your Troubles Away (1975), the Top 40 R&B album Strategy (1979), and charting singles such as "The Soul City Walk," "Let's Groove," and "Strategy."

In 1980, the year Japan's Yellow Magic Orchestra appeared on Soul Train with their animated version of "Tighten Up," Archie Bell & the Drells broke up. Bell released a solo album, I Never Had It So Good, the following year on the Beckett label. He and the Drells eventually reunited, however, and continued to perform well into the latter half of the 2010s. They celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2016 with the two-disc Let's Groove: The Archie Bell & the Drells Story, released on BBR in the U.K. ~ Ed Hogan & Andy Kellman
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Strategy

1. Show Me How To Dance

2. I Can't Get Enough Of Your Love

3. How Can I

4. We've Got Something

5. Tighten Up At The Disco

6. Strategy

7. You're The Only One

8. We Got Um Dancin'

x

Track List: Hard Not To Like It

1. Glad You Could Make It

2. Disco Showdown

3. Disco Fever

4. On The Radio

5. It's Hard Not To Like You

6. There's No Other Like You

7. Real Good Feeling

8. I've Been Missing You

x

Track List: Where Will You Go When The Party's Over

1. Don't Let Love Get You Down

2. Where Will You Go When The Party's Over

3. Right Here Is Where I Want To Be

5. Everybody Have A Good Time

6. I Swear You're Beautiful

7. Nothing Comes Easy

8. I Bet I Can Do That Dance You're Doin'

x

Track List: I Can't Stop Dancing

1. I Can't Stop Dancing

2. Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay

4. You're Such A Beautiful Child

5. Monkey Time

6. Do You Feel It?

7. I've Been Trying

8. Jammin' In Houston

9. Love Will Rain On You

10. Sometimes I Wonder

11. Low Down

x

Track List: Rhino Hi-Five: Archie Bell & The Drells

1. Tighten Up (Pt. 1)

2. Girl You're Too Young

3. (There's Gonna Be A) Showdown

4. I Can't Stop Dancing

5. I Love My Baby

x

Track List: Where Will You Go When The Party's Over / Hard Not To Like It / Strategy

Disc 1

1. Don't Let Love Get You Down

2. Where Will You Go When The Party's Over

4. Dancin' Man

5. Everybody Have A Good Time

6. I Swear You're Beautiful

7. Nothing Comes Easy

8. I Bet I Can Do That Dance You're Doin'

9. Glad You Could Make It

10. Disco Showdown

11. Disco Fever

12. On The Radio

13. Its Hard Not To Like You

15. Real Good Feeling

16. I've Been Missing You

Disc 2

2. I Can't Get Enough Of Your Love

3. How Can I

5. Tighten Up At The Disco

6. Strategy

7. You're The Only One

x

Track List: There's Gonna Be A Showdown

x

Track List: I Can't Stop Dancing [Mono]

1. I Can't Stop Dancing

2. (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay

3. Do The Choo Choo

4. You're Such A Beautiful Child

5. Monkey Time

6. Do You Feel It?

7. I've Been Trying

8. Jammin' In Houston

9. Love Will Rain On You

10. Sometimes I Wonder

Comments

Report as inappropriate
justinjenny4 9 5
❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤
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This was back when music was music
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Real talk back in the day we had respect for our sisters let get back to respect brothers and sisters that old school family!! Don don Reese stlouis
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This song was one of the first songs that got me into loving music! I was very, very young then but it is in my mind like yesterday. Thanks AB and the Drells!
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izusu9
These guys are soo great! They R O C K ! Great vocals and instrumentat i o n . . HEAVY sound.. Love them!
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Do the tighten up..

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I loved Archie Bell and the Drells, since i was a child, still love the song Tighten up...and the dance
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ddy0815
this song always brings and instant file to my face.
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I love me some Archie Bell & The Drells !!!!!! Shell1965 oldies to sure
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I rember. The 8 tract
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I like to tighten it up like NOW! RQ/rlh
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Definitely coooooler than voodoo!
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listening to some good music couldn't ask for anything else
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No kiddin now... I see your feet tappin...... And the grin... Yeah busted on a groove. Better tighten up!
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Omg under grown oldies I remember when I first heard this song I loved it ;)♥·♥♡
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Nice)) 8 track tape, Classic))
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I was a kid when this song dropped back in 1967?? Daddy and momma played this to death and me and my sister's and brothers would dance on Saturday nights! This band was the bomb! I miss daddy.RIP Daddy.
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I remember Momma and daddy playing Tighten Up when I was a a kid in 67! I loved that song!! Memories of all of us kids dancing in the family room. RIP to all the family who have since passed.
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"I Just Want To Fall In Love"H-Town Listening
*978*5m14y~
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One of the best groups I know of. RASHON IBN ALMUHYI
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Add a little Bass...
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Groovin, My song! Miss hearing them! RQ/rxh
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<3
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jmorales3607
H-TOWN, stand-up, and get on down.
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I Could Have Danced All Night is still a great song.
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They just don't know today how to be clean free,and dance. Wowie
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Pure rhythm...goe s to your soul!
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rubenc2
One of the best group coming out from the texas area in the 60's.
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The Drells can groove
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everybody have a good time was their greatest hit!
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ONE OF THE VERY BEST OF TEXAS CHICANO OLDIES!
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This is a masterpiece here. Clean, crisp, sunshiny funk. you gotta love it.
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fhpetite
This is one of my favorites songs!
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THIS GROUP CAUSED A DANCE - KRAZE AND A MOVEMENT OF THE GENRE -"1960'S)
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wkillian
I enjoy listening to all the old groups that I grew up with, so of them I had forgotten but now since you are here I can relive my teenage years all over again. I could do all of the dances that came out. I wish that the kids of today could experince my childhood through our music instead of what their listening today. Thanks again. Winifred Killian Walker
Report as inappropriate
"Tighten Up" is just awesome! I gotta go groove now...
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I just love all these songs in this era
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One of my favorite groups of the sixties.

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