10 Songs, 43 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

By the time they released their third album in 1973, The Stylistics were still the exclusive territory of arranger/songwriter Thom Bell, who'd molded the Philadelphia group in his singular musical vision. The falsetto vocals of Russell Thompkins Jr. are still the leading element, but Rockin’ Roll Baby is noticeably more corporeal than The Stylistics’ previous efforts, which were resolutely ethereal. The album has a weightiness to it that's evident in the first notes of “Only for the Children,” which begins—in Thom Bell’s typically grandiose fashion—with a torrential fanfare. The preponderance of message songs is representative of the direction both of Philadelphia International Records and soul music in general. In accordance with the times, there's something about Rockin’ Roll Baby that feels more urgent—heavier—than in the past. The centerpiece track is “Payback’s a Dog,” a brooding song that shifts between planes of utter dreaminess and creeping anxiety.

EDITORS’ NOTES

By the time they released their third album in 1973, The Stylistics were still the exclusive territory of arranger/songwriter Thom Bell, who'd molded the Philadelphia group in his singular musical vision. The falsetto vocals of Russell Thompkins Jr. are still the leading element, but Rockin’ Roll Baby is noticeably more corporeal than The Stylistics’ previous efforts, which were resolutely ethereal. The album has a weightiness to it that's evident in the first notes of “Only for the Children,” which begins—in Thom Bell’s typically grandiose fashion—with a torrential fanfare. The preponderance of message songs is representative of the direction both of Philadelphia International Records and soul music in general. In accordance with the times, there's something about Rockin’ Roll Baby that feels more urgent—heavier—than in the past. The centerpiece track is “Payback’s a Dog,” a brooding song that shifts between planes of utter dreaminess and creeping anxiety.

TITLE TIME

More By The Stylistics

You May Also Like