New Smooth Soul Survivor - Hurry Up This Way Again

"Hurry Up This Way Again"
[Song Written by Dexter Wansel and Cynthia Biggs]

During the late 70s and early 80s Cynthia Biggs and Dexter Wansel were the preeminent songwriting partnership of Philadelphia International Records (PIR).  Their collective credits include hits such as "The Best Is Yet To Come' by Grover Washington, 'Nights Over Egypt' by the Jones Girls and 'If Only You Knew' by Patti LaBelle yet perhaps most memorable was this latest Smooth Soul Survivor, 'Hurry Up This Way Again' by the Stylistics.

"Hurry Up This Way Again"
[Song Written by Dexter Wansel and Cynthia Biggs]

During the late 70s and early 80s Cynthia Biggs and Dexter Wansel were the preeminent songwriting partnership of Philadelphia International Records (PIR).  Their collective credits include hits such as "The Best Is Yet To Come' by Grover Washington, 'Nights Over Egypt' by the Jones Girls and 'If Only You Knew' by Patti LaBelle yet perhaps most memorable was this latest Smooth Soul Survivor, 'Hurry Up This Way Again' by the Stylistics.

Biggs was born in North Carolina and raised in Philadelphia where, after learning to play piano as a child, she progressed to become a staff writer for PIR.  Despite early success, a contraction of operations at PIR threatened her ongoing employment.  She looked all set for the axe until upcoming songwriter and producer Dexter Wansel persuaded label executive Kenny Gamble to allow her to write with him.  Thus the writing team of Wansel & Biggs was born.  In what was a golden age for smooth sophisticated soul they delivered a string of hits that will forever live in the memory.  On many sessions Biggs also contributed backing vocals and, at times, played piano.  She stayed with the label until 1988 but as the music that had made Philadelphia great began to slip from favor Biggs took a job in corporate America only to return to the business in the mid 90s with Polygram.  It was an opportunity for her to collaborate with a new generation of writers and producers that most notably included Barry Eastmond and Rex Rideout who at the time were treading a new path in R & B-tinged contemporary jazz.  In 2003 Biggs received the International Association of African-American Music, 'Linda Creed Contributor's Award' for Promoting, Protecting, and Perpetuating African-American Music Globally.

As for Wansel he was very much a recording artist in his own right and stayed with PIR almost until its final demise.  The accolades he gained as a songwriter were mirrored by those for a sequence of quality solo albums that included the 1976 'Life on Mars', 'Voyager' from 1978, and 'Time Is Slipping Away' which followed a year later.

The sumptuous 'Hurry Up This Way Again' was the title cut of the 1980 album from The Stylistics that proved to be their last to impact the pop charts.  The track also provided the band with one final top 20 R&B hit.  But it was not until 1995, when a new generation was beginning to catch on to the sound of Philadelphia, that Regina Belle included her rendition of it on the critically acclaimed ‘Reachin' Back'.  This 'rediscovery' of a timeless sub-genre opened the floodgates to the cover version as an art form and it was no surprise when in the same year J Spencer featured 'Hurry Up This Way Again' on the CD 'Blue Moon'.  The magnificent Phyllis Hyman (for whom Biggs had previously written) made it part of her 1998 project 'Forever With You' and the song also appeared on Patrice Rushen's outstanding Signature from a year earlier.  Perhaps the best cover to date comes from Chicago smooth jazz guitarist Nick Colionne.  Originally included on the 1995 album Arrival, Colionne often still incorporates this instrumental gem into his live shows.  It invariably engenders rapturous applause and in so doing reflects the way in which this fabulous Smooth Soul Survivor has been received over the past thirty years.

By Denis Poole
http://www.smoothjazztherapy.com/

 
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