Quite possibly the only vocal group to ever give The Temptations a good run for their money.
Producers note: While putting the final touches on the research for this #blackhistorymonth program featuring classic soul greats The Dramatics, I have found out that their domain name, www.thedramatics.org, is up for sale. I don't know what this means, and makes me even more resolute in making certain their legacy is somehow given the props it needs, even if it is just on this crazy-ass website. Because let me tell you, they were a world-class R&B act in every sense of the phrase. #dramatics
“I believe if they hadn’t put Ron’s name out front, he would still be alive today. Fame will kill you if you let it, because everything comes to you and goes through you first. By that time, the damage was done.” – L.J. Reynolds on the Dramatics founder Ron Banks.
The Dramatics formed in 1964 in Detroit Michigan as the Dynamics; they obtained the name Dramatics due to a typo on one of their early singles, and it stuck. The group went from label to label, releasing only one nationally charted single, and went through several line-up changes before temporarily landing at Stax subsidiary Volt for an amazing single, “Your Love Was Strange”. They left the label, who at the time were struggling after the dissolution of Stax/Atlantic partnership a year earlier.
The group, who by this time was comprised of Ron Banks, William "Wee Gee" Howard, Elbert Wilkins, Willie Ford, Larry Demps and keyboardist James Mack Brown recorded another flop for yet another label but were still performing live. Don Davis and Tony Hester were starting to make names for themselves at Stax Records, with Hester being a triple threat of arranging, producing and songwriting; they offered the band a new contract. The resulting LP, Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get, is a solid stone groove and one of the most underrated R&B classics in history. It made the Pop top 20 on the albums chart, the R&B albums chart top 5, and spawned their two biggest Pop and R&B Top 10 singles, as well as a top 20 R&B fan favorite. Their follow-up LP, A Dramatic Experience, is equally impressive.
(Yes, these are my opinions here with the facts. Listen for yourselves and tell me I am wrong.)
The Dramatics, from the re-release of their debut LP in 1971. Photographer unknown, courtesy of Stax Records.
After seeing how well the name Dramatics was doing, Howard and Wilkins left the group, forming a “new” Dramatics, launched a tour and eventually released a single on Mainstream Records. It was at this time that long-serving member L.J. Reynolds joined the original group as a replacement. The original Stax-signed band temporarily changed their name to Ron Banks and the Dramatics until 1976, when a court awarded the core group legal rights to their name. After Stax had again ceased operations permanently in 1975, they moved to ABC Records (and then MCA Records after they purchased ABC) for a string of high charting R&B hits for the remainder of the 1970's and continued to place minor hits on the R&B charts for another decade.
They continue to record and tour with new members (Banks, Howard, Wilkins and Brown have all since passed away) and made a huge comeback in the mid-1990’s singing back-up for Snoop Doggy Dogg on his massive selling Doggystyle LP.
Our tracks this week: Title, Year, Album Source
1. Get Up And Get Down, 1971, Whatcha See is Whatcha Get
2. No Rebate on Love, 1975 , non-LP single A-side on Mainstream*
3. In The Rain, 1971, Whatcha See is Whatcha Get
4. Hey You! Get Off My Mountain, 1973, A Dramatic Experience
5. I Just Wanna Dance With You, 1979, Any Time, Any Place
6. The Devil Is Dope, 1973, A Dramatic Experience (also the B-side to “Hey You! Get Off My Mountain”)
7. Beware Of The Man (With The Candy In His Hand), 1973, A Dramatic Experience (also the B-side to “And I Panicked”)
8. Shake It Well, 1977, Shake It Well
9. Toast To The Fool, 1972, Dramatically Yours••
10. Fell For You, 1973, A Dramatic Experience
11. Your Love Was Strange, 1969 original release single A-side/1972 re-release “Toast to the Fool” B-side
12. And I Panicked, 1973, A Dramatic Experience
13. Finger Fever, 1976, Joy Ride
14. Whatcha See is Whatcha Get, 1971, Whatcha See is Whatcha Get
•Dramatics splinter group with Howard and Wilkins
**billed as Ron Banks and the Dramatics
Love to you all.
Ben "Bear" Brown Jr., owner
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