ARCHIE BELL AND THE DRELLS-WHERE WILL YOU GO WHEN THE PARTY’S OVER?

ARCHIE BELL AND THE DRELLS-WHERE WILL YOU GO WHEN THE PARTY’S OVER?

One of the many highlights on Tom Moulton’s recent Philadelphia Classics-The Tom Moulton Remixes was Tom’s remix of Archie Bell and The Drells’ Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over? Of the thirty-one remixes, that was one of my favorites. That set me thinking, that it was time I reviewed one of Archie Bell and The Drells’ albums. Obviously, given how much I enjoyed Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over?, where better place to start than that album, Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over? This was Archie Bell and The Drells’ second album for Philadelphia International Records, and the follow-up to 1975s Dance Your Troubles Away, which had been their first album since signing to Philadelphia International Records. It had reached number ninety-five in the US Billboard 200 and number eleven in the US R&B Charts, when it was released in December 1977. Thirteen months later, in January 1977, came the follow-up, Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over?, with its anthemic title-track. Before I tell you about the music on Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over?, I’ll tell you about the making of the album.

Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over would be Archie Bell and The Drells’ fifth album since their debut album Tighten Up, released on Atlantic Records in May 1968. It had reached number 142 in the US R&B Charts and number fifteen in the US R&B Charts. The follow-up was I Can’t Stop Dancing, released in February 1969, reaching number twenty-eight in the U R&B Charts. Their final album for Atlantic Records was There’s Gonna Be A Showdown, released in August 1969 and reaching number 163 in the US Billboard 200. Six years later, came their first album for Philadelphia International Records, Dance Your Troubles Away, released in January 1977. This saw an upturn in the group’s fortunes, reaching number ninety-five in the US Billboard 200 and number eleven in the US R&B Charts. This wasn’t the first time Archie Bell and The Drells and Gamble and Huff had worked together. Gamble and Huff had produced I Can’t Stop Dancing and There’s Gonna Be A Showdown. However, like their previous album Dance Your Troubles Away, it wouldn’t be Gamble and Huff who’d produce Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over. Instead it would another of Philadelphia International Records successful songwriting and production teams Gene McFadden, John Whitehead and Victor Castarphen. 

For Archie Bell and The Drells’ fifth album McFadden and Whitehead would play an important role in what would become Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over. Together with Victor Castarphen the trio cowrote three songs, plus another with Leon Huff. However, one of the two tracks that McFadden and Whitehead would provide the anthemic title-track, Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over. Of the other three songs on the album, Bunny Sigler wrote and produced two tracks, Everybody Have A Good Time and I Swear You’re Beautiful. Vinne Barrett and Yvonne Gray cowrote the other track on the album Dancin’ Man. Recording of the eight tracks on Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over would take place at Philly’s legendary Sigma Sound Studios.

With M.F.S.B. having left Philadelphia International Records in 1976, to form the Salsoul Orchestra, it was a different M.F.S.B. that would accompany Archie Bell and The Drells. Gone were the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section, with musicians like drummers Keith Erroll Benson and Scott Miller, bassists Jimmy Williams and Raymond Earl and guitarists that included Bunny Sigler, Kim Miller, Ronnie James and Theodere Life replacing them, Some things stayed the same, with Larry Washington playing bongos and Dexter Wansel playing piano. Arranging the eight tracks were Jack Faith and Richard Rome, while Gene McFadden, John Whitehead and Victor Castarphen produced six of the tracks on Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over. With the album recorded, all that was left was for Philadelphia International to release Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over.

Before the release of Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over, Nothing Comes Easy was released as a single, but failed to chart. This lead to Philadelphia International Records’ marketing department changing the album’s release date. Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over would be released in January 1977 reaching number forty-seven in the US R&B Charts. There wasn’t a single released to support the album, until the Bunny Sigler penned Everybody Have A Good Time was released in April 1977, reaching number sixty-eight in the UK. Meanwhile, in the UK, Don’t Let Love Get You Down was released as single, reaching number forty-nine in the UK Charts. The anthemic title-track Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over was also released as a single in the UK, and while it wasn’t a hit, it’s since become a firm favorite among Philly Soul fans. So although Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over didn’t match the success of their previous album Dance Your Troubles Away, it was still a successful album, with a truly anthemic title-track. However, what does the music on Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over sound like, that’s what I’ll now tell you.

Opening Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over, is Don’t Let Love Get You Down which Gene McFadden, John Whitehead and Victor Castarphen cowrote with Leon Huff. Produced by McFadden and Whitehead, with Jack Faith arranging the track, Archie’s vocal is accompanied by layers of lush strings, while rasping horns punctuate the arrangement and the rhythm section  add drama to the beauty of the strings. The Drells add tight, sweeping harmonies, as Archie’s vocal is impassioned and emotive. Not only this a beautiful track to open the album, but one full of drama and passion.

It’s always puzzled me why such an anthemic track as Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over, wasn’t a huge hit. Written and produced by McFadden and Whitehead and featuring a classic Jack Faith arrangement. Opening with a slow sultry saxophone solo, hissing hi-hats, rhythm section, keyboards and cascading strings. Together they produce a sound that’s sweet and dramatic. Then, The Drellss enter, before the strings and rhythm section drive the track along. Punchy, rasping horns enter before Archie’s vocal enters. It’s sassy and impassioned, accompanied by harmonies, strings and horns. Together, these ingredients result in a track that’s totally joyous, uplifting sound and irresistible.

Archie Bell and The Drells drop the tempo on Right Here Is Where I Want To Be. Flourishes of piano, occasional chiming guitars and rasping horns, before The Drells add impassioned harmonies. When Archie’s vocal enters, it’s totally heartfelt and impassioned. He gives way to The Drells, who add some of their most soulful harmonies, as lush strings sweep slowly. A piano drifts in as horns rasp and the rhythm section build the drama gently. This sets up Archie Bell and The Drells as they surpass themselves, delivering the lyrics with equal parts of emotion and passion. Together, they deliver one of the most heartfelt ballads that you could hope to hear.

Dancin’ Man has a quite different sound from the previous tracks. It’s much funkier, almost exploding into life after a few bars. Gene McFadden, John Whitehead and Victor Castarphen produced the track. When Archie’s vocal enters, it’s a signal for the band to kick loose. The rhythm section provide the funk, with the help of keyboards and guitars. Archie’s vocal is powerful, with a crash of the drum signaling it’s time for The Drells to answer Archies call. They do this a punchy style, before Dexter on keyboards adds a prolonged keyboard solo that pushes the track further in a direction marked funk. Although quite different from other tracks, this track gives Archie Bell and The Drells plus M.F.S.B. Mk. 2 the chance to kick loose, which they do with aplomb and seem to throughly relish and enjoy doing.

Everybody Have A Good Time is the first of two consecutive tracks written and produced by Bunny Sigler. It’s another uptempo, uplifting and joyous track, with blazing horns, sweeping, swirling strings, sizzling guitars and a rhythm section that provide the track’s powerful and stirring heartbeat all playing their part. Archie’s vocal is powerful and joyful, while The Drells add subtle, cooing harmonies. Wah-wah guitars, flourishes of piano, cascading strings and braying horns provide a backdrop for Archie whose transformed into a  strutting, showman, relishing a peerless performance from M.F.S.B. Mk. 2. He raises his game even higher, matching them stride for stride for passion, flair and flamboyance and in the process, produces one of the highlights of Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over.

I Swear You’re Beautiful is an uplifting, beautiful jazz tinged ballad. Here swathes of strings add to the track’s beauty, while rasping horns and guitars add to the jazz influence. Meanwhile, the rhythm section sprinkle funk, while Archie’s vocal is powerful, impassioned and heartfelt, accompanied by bursts of rasping horns. The Drells answer Archie’s vocal adding bursts of punchy, but soulful harmonies. During this hook-laden, beautiful and seductive song, M.F.S.B. Mk. 2 produce the a stunning backdrop, seamlessly combining elements of jazz, soul and funk.

Nothing Comes Easy is a track written and produced by Gene McFadden, John Whitehead and Victor Castarphen. They’ve produced another great track, one that very quickly, draws you in and where resistance is impossible. Best to just sit back as M.F.S.B. Mk.2 fuse soul and funk. Keyboards, blazing horns, wah-wah guitars and rhythm section combine, before Archie’s powerful, confident vocals enters. Key to the track’s success are the rhythm section, Dexter Wansel’s keyboard playing and bursts of punchy, rasping horns. Later, The Drells add equally powerful, joyful backing vocals, while bursts of horns and the funky rhythm section play their part in the track’s sound and success. Why is wasn’t a successful single seems strange, given its vocal hook and anthemic sound.

Closing Where Will You Go When The Party’s Over is I Bet I Can Do That Dance You’re Doin,’ another track penned and produced by Gene McFadden, John Whitehead and Victor Castarphen. Opening with a dramatic crash of drums, the rhythm section take the arrangement in the direction of funk, before dancing strings and a wah-wah guitar enter. After a minute, Archie Bell and The Drells enter, before the strings reenter, giving the track a lush sound. It’s replaced by wah-wah guitar, then bursts of blazing horns. The vocal drifts in and out, being replaced by the funk of M.F.S.B. Mk. 2. Together, they feed off each other, the interplay seamless and resulting in track that allows both M.F.S.B. Mk. 2 and Archie Bell and The Drells to shine. 

Listening to Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over, it seems quite incredible that the album wasn’t a much bigger commercial success. On Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over Archie Bell and The Drells fuse Philly Soul and funk, over eight tracks. Key to the success of the album’s sound were four men. Three of these men were Gene McFadden, John Whitehead and Victor Castarphen, who cowrote five tracks and produced six of tracks on the album. The other man was Bunny Sigler, who wrote and produced two tracks on Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over. Together, these four men made Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over such a great album, an album that deserved to fare so much better commercially. Although the album is best known for its anthemic title-track Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over, there’s much more to the album than just one track. This includes uptempo tracks like Don’t Let Love Get You Down, Everybody Have A Good Time and Nothing Comes Easy, while there are two beautiful ballads on the album Right Here Is Where I Want To Be and the Bunny Sigler penned I Swear You’re Beautiful. What makes the sound of Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over even more remarkable, is that Philadelphia International Records’ legendary house-band M.F.S.B. had left the label, becoming the Salsoul Orchestra. Their departure meant that other musicians had to fill their shoes. They did this with aplomb, while arrangers Jack Faith and Richard Rome both played their part in making Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over such a great album. Thankfully, for anyone yet to discover Archie Bell and The Drells’ music, Demon Music released a trio of their albums on a two-disc set. This includes Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over, plus 1977s Hard Not To Like It and 1979s Strategy. So good is the music on these three albums is that the only problem is, Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over? Standout Tracks: Don’t Let Love Get You Down, Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over, Everybody Have A Good Time and Nothing Comes Easy.

ARCHIE BELL AND THE DRELLS-WHERE WILL YOU GO WHEN THE PARTY’S OVER?

 

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