Lost Gem: The Stylistics returned in glory on "I've Got This Feeling"

By 1981, it seemed like The Stylistics were on their third career. The group, led by the soaring falsetto of Russell Thompkins, Jr., broke out in a big way in the early to mid-70s with three knockout albums produced by the great Thom Bell, which included some of the most iconic songs written by Bell and his songwriting partner, Linda Creed, including "You Are Everything," "Betcha By Golly Wow" and "You Make Me Feel Brand New." But then, beginning with the first post-Bell album, Heavy, the bottom fell out for the group in the US, as as series of albums produced by Hugo & Luigi were both a commercial and critical step down -- though, interestingly, continuing the group's winning streak in Europe.

By 1981, it seemed like The Stylistics were on their third career. The group, led by the soaring falsetto of Russell Thompkins, Jr., broke out in a big way in the early to mid-70s with three knockout albums produced by the great Thom Bell, which included some of the most iconic songs written by Bell and his songwriting partner, Linda Creed, including "You Are Everything," "Betcha By Golly Wow" and "You Make Me Feel Brand New." But then, beginning with the first post-Bell album, Heavy, the bottom fell out for the group in the US, as as series of albums produced by Hugo & Luigi were both a commercial and critical step down -- though, interestingly, continuing the group's winning streak in Europe.

Then in 1980, The Stylistics came back to their Philly soul roots, signing with Philadelphia International Records, and landing a top 10 hit with the edgy Dexter Wansel/Cynthia Biggs El song, "Hurry Up This Way Again." That set the stage for 1981's Closer Than Close, and a partial reunion with Thom Bell. The album was solid, but a fateful decision to make the dance number "What's Your Name?" the lead single likely killed the disc's chance to have impact. And that's too bad, because the album included an instant classic Bell/Creed composition that harkened back to the group's biggest and best hits.

"I've Got This Feeling" is pure Stylistics. The gentle electronic keyboards and acoustic guitar intro led to one of Thompkins' purest vocal performances, all wrapped in the studio sweeteners (including the Sweethearts of Sigma singing background) that Bell had perfected over the years. 

This is stunning late night music, and a true Lost Gem that deserves to be heard again. Check it out below.

By Chris Rizik

 
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