Nickolas Ashford - Vocals; Valerie Simpson - Vocals; Ray Chew - Piano; Peter Cannarrozi - Synthesizer, Keyboards; Andy Schwartz - Guitar; Eluriel Barfield - Bass; Ray Manandaldo - Trumpet; Vincent Della-Roca - Tenor Sax; George Opalisky - Alto Sax; Ralph McDonald - Percussion; Yogi Horton - Drums
A songwriting, production and performing powerhouse for nearly three decades, Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson's musical legacy is one of the most impressive in all of popular music. From writing songs for Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles in the mid-1960s to becoming staff writers and producers during the heyday of Motown (where they firmly established their credentials writing and producing major hits for Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and Gladys Knight, among others) the duo's impact on popular music cannot be overestimated.
Although Ashford and Simpson performed and recorded throughout their career, it wasn't until the late 1970s that the performing and recording side of their career really took off. The duo's last three albums of the decade, 1977's Send It, 1978's Is It Still Good to Ya, and 1979's Stay Free set a standard of excellence they could never really surpass and established the duo as major stars and vocalists.
This era, which extended into the 1980s, was arguably Ashford and Simpson's peak era as performing artists, as can be heard on the recording presented here. Captured on the 1980 tour promoting the duo's A Music Affair album, which followed the three aforementioned albums, this performance is a near perfect time capsule of this era. During the middle of this set there is an emphasis on the new album material, including three of its finest songs, "Love Don't Make It Right," "Get out Your Hankerchief," and "Happy Endings, but it the rest of this performance that shine's brightest, as they showcase choice material from all three of those late 70s albums and more.
The tail end of the set, which features the funky 1977 hit, "Don't Cost You Nothin," followed by an extended medley of "Landlord," "Clouds" and "The Boss" is a prime example of Ashford and Simpson's romantic relay working an audience into a frenzy and leaving them nothing short of delirious by the set's conclusion.