#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.