Russell Thompkins Jr. - lead singer; Airrion Love - vocals; Herbert Murrell - vocals; James Smith - vocals; James Dunn - vocals
One of the most popular of the Philly soul groups of the 1970s, The Stylistics had 12 consecutive top ten hits on the R&B charts during the decade, including such memorable and oft-covered tunes as "You Are Everything," "Betcha by Golly, Wow," "I'm Stone in Love with You" and "You Make Me Feel Brand New." Led by the soaring, distinctive falsetto of lead singer Russell Thompkins, Jr., The Stylistics brought their popular sweet R&B sound to the Nassau Coliseum, headlining a triple bill that also included the Cannonball Adderley Quintet and blues star B.B. King.
Opening their Sunday night set on a buoyant note with their current single release, "I Can't Give You Anything (But My Love)," The Stylistics shift into their stock in trade - velvety smooth romantic ballads - with "Thank You Baby" and "Tears and Souvenirs." There follows a slickly orchestrated romantic medley of earlier Stylistics offerings like "Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)," "You Are Everything" and "Break Up To Make Up." They take the energy level up a couple of notches in uncharacteristic fashion on the driving "Rockin' Roll Baby" (title track of their 1973 album) before settling into a lush doo-wop interpretation of "The Way We Were," Barbra Streisand's hit song from 1970. They follow with an energized rendition of the upbeat "She Did a Number on Me" (from 1974's Heavy) and close out their Newport Jazz Festival set with their biggest hit, the gorgeous "You Make Me Feel Brand New," which they dedicate, of course, to all the ladies.
Formed in 1968, The Stylistics were a consolidation of two Philly soul groups -- the Monarchs and the Percussions. Their scored their first regional hit in 1970 with "You're a Big Girl Now," but their career-arc climbed rapidly after they signed to Avco Records and came under the sway of successful R&B producer Thom Bell, who had crafted similar success stories with The Delfonics, The Spinners and the O'Jays. Bell built The Stylistics' sound around Thompkins' nasal falsetto voice, which dominated all their '70s hits. The Stylistics continued to tour and have hit singles through the '70s and into the early '80s. I n 1 9 8 5 , Russell Thompkins Jr., Airrion Love and Herbert Murrell began touring as a t r i o and remained together through 2 0 0 0 , w h e n T h o m p k i n s l e f t the group . L o v e a n d M u r r e l l br o u g h t i n t w o n e w m e m b e r s and continued performing on the oldies circuit as The Stylistics while T h o m p k i n s , J r . s t a r t e d a competing g r o u p called t h e N e w S t y l i s t i c s.
-Written by Bill Milkowski