Nicholas Ashford - vocals; Valerie Simpson - vocals, keyboards; Bobby Gene Hall, Jr. - lead guitar; John P. Cooksey, Jr. - drums; Eluriel "Tinker" Barfield - bass; Kevin Nance - keyboards, clavinet; Nathaniel Adderley Jr. - piano; Raymond Simpson - backing vocals; Ullanda McCullough - backing vocals
Ashford & Simpson were one of the few songwriting teams from the golden age of pop and R&B to make the transition to performing artists, although they waited nearly a decade to do it. The duo will always be best known for the classic Motown hits they wrote for popular, top selling artists; however, the material they cut for their own records was often just as compelling and infectious. As a live performing act, the group never crossed over to large audiences, but they often toured to enthusiastic crowds at venues such as New York's Bottom Line, where this show was captured in 1977 for the King Biscuit Flower Hour.
Chances are you're pretty familiar with the music of Ashford and Simpson. Together as a songwriting team and a couple since 1964 (they finally married in the late 1970s), this due first started writing hits for Ray Charles and Dionne Warwick before moving over to Motown in the late 1960s to write for Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell and Diana Ross, just after she had left The Supremes for a solo career in 1970.
Those songs are timeless, and have become an unequivocal part of the fabric of American pop music history. "You're All I Need To Get By," "Ain't Nothin' Like The Real Thing" and "Reach Out And Touch Somebody's Hand" are just a few of the classics they composed. The duo tried launching a performing career in the 1970s, and although they made some critically acclaimed recordings and a few medium-level radio hits, they never saw a great deal of commercial success. Their live shows are primarily a mix of original new material and a collection of their classic Motown hits.
"I Need Your Light/Tried, Tested and Found True" opens the show at New York's intimate Bottom Line club in a medley that is over 11 minutes long. Other A&S gems such as "Somebody Told A Lie" and "Remember Me" are among the other highlights. They do throw their best Motown and soul music classics into one nine-minute medley that includes "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," a hit for the late Tammy Terrell and later for Diana Ross; "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" (a tune made popular by Marvin Gaye), "You're All I Need," (again a hit for Terrell and legend Marvin Gaye); and another song that became a hit for Diana Ross, post Supremes: "Reach Out."
Although their enthusiasm is there, they are no match for the performers who had hits with these classic songs during the 1960s and '70s. They close with "Give Me Something Real."