“Tighten Up” Performed By Archie Bell & The Drells (1968)

September 20, 2010

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#1 R&B, #1 Pop

Archie Bell & The Drells, of Houston Texas, had been singing Chicago Style Soul Music together since high school. After winning a few local talent shows they were able to acquire a manager Skipper Frazier put them on his Ovid record label.

The group had a regional hit but then Drell was drafted for the Vietnam War. On leave in 1967 he  recorded “Tighten Up.”

Composed by Archie Bell and group member Billy Butler,  “Tighten Up” was a B-Side that was slowly flipped, played and zoomed to the top of both the R&B and Pop charts, selling 3 million records while  Archie was stationed in Germany in the U.S. Army.

Of course the record company wanted an album to follow-up on this big hit: the Tighten Up LP hit #15 R&B and #142 Pop in summer 1968.

And naturally performances to support the music were required so the Army would let Archie return stateside for some club performances and other times fake Archies performed on stage.

I think that this song as GOT to have one of the funkiest bass lines of this era outside of James Jamerson’s bass lines at Motown! The backing band on “Tighten Up” was the TSU Tornadoes out of Houston Texas. I would love to hear more about them so please check in and spill the details if you have them.

After watching this vintage YouTube video to see the Drells performing the “Tighten Up” dance, check out Soul Patrol’s Archie Bell & The Drells Page to find out from Archie himself what a Drell is in an audio interview and read a detailed biography of the group.

Musically Yours,

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Filed under:Archie Bell & Billy Butler,Archie Bell & The Drells,Dance to the Music,Guy Groups,Ovid/Atlantic,Pop/Dance,Pop/R&B,Sixties,Tighten Up

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SupaStarry September 24, 2010 at 5:47 am

i just knew you were gonna post this song and i only heard it about a week ago!

i have a question SonDan, i watched this performace on PBS (i stay on that channel lol) and my mom’s boyfriend walked by and was like “what you know about this?!”. i told him it was my first time seeing it. he said used to dance to it when he was young but he never got to see what the guys (or the dance for that matter) looked like. Then the classic performance of I Wish It Would Rain by The Tempts at the Hollywood Palace came one and he was talking about how he never seen that either. Now here i am thinking about what it would be like to always see the greats on TV and stuff and he said if it wasnt on Soul Train, he didnt see it. (He was talking about how black people didnt get those channels). did he just not know where to find these programs?? because he confused the hell out of me!


2 SonDan September 25, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Hi lovely. Hmm, dude confuses me too Supa because I watched PBS and Hollywood Palace and Ed Sullivan all the time growing up. Sunday night was the night for Bonanza and The Ed Sullivan show. Sullivan was the place to see all the Motown and Stax acts along with the British Invasion groups. As I recall Sullivan came on CBS. Didn’t this man have CBS on his tv? (LOL)
I can’t remember the day or channel for Hollywood Palace, but it was one of the other places (besides American Bandstand) to see the “Colored” musical acts in the Sixties. I have a VHS tape of The Temptations on the Palace and love it.


3 SupaStarry October 17, 2010 at 1:44 am

Thanks for clearing that up SonDan! :), i just knew it had to be him lol.


4 SupaStarry September 24, 2010 at 5:48 am

wow, just noticed how long that was…sorry for the four page letter lol


5 SonDan September 25, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Length of posts is never a problem. Keep it coming lady.


6 Luann March 9, 2011 at 12:02 am

Does anyone have on VHS or DVD the night Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show?? According to Tammi’s sister, she DID appear on Ed Sullivan around mid 1968. Since Tammi died so quickly, there isn’t much of her on video. I did tape The Unsung show and have found 3 live performance of her and Marvin on You Tube. If anyone has any VHS of her on any TV show in the 1960′s, I will pay you a nice price. I know she did appear on TV up until 1968. Also, if anyone knows where I can get magazines that she appeared in while she was still alive, let me know that too. I’ve got Ebony late 1969 and have been outbidded on E-Bay for 2 Soul Magazines – I was mad. I blinked and lost. I’ve got most of her songs but there’s gotta be more out there.

Anyone can help me, I will very much appreciate it.
TTerrell Fan 4-ever


7 SonDan March 10, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Hi Luann,

I hope some Tammi lovers see your post and contact you about vintage memorabilia. She was fabu — wasn’t she?
I was pleased as punch when I got the Marvin and Tammi Complete Duets that had the Tammi bonus material on it.
She could have been a great solo act IMHO

Welcome to OSML. I appreciate your participation greatly.


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