Nicholas Ashford - vocals; Valerie Simpson - vocals, keyboards; Kenneth Bichel - synthesizers; Don Grolnick - keyboards; Steve Khan - guitar; Rick Marotta - drums; Francisco Centeno - bass
Unless you've been living on a planet somewhere millions of light years beyond our galaxy, 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.
These 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," to name a few. 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, 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.
This performance was done as part of a tour promoting 1977's Send It album, and represents a sort of sampling from the record they were working on at the time, Is It Still Good to Ya. From these two albums, both of which would eventually attain gold status, "Over and Over," "Somebody Told A Lie," "Tell It All" and the captivating "Gimme Something Real" are represented on this recording.
This is a top quality recording, and the musicianship on every Ashford and Simpson tour is always first class. Still, in the end, we might have been better served with at least a sampling of their past glory from the Motown catalog.