Personnel: Marvin Brown , Byron Summerville, Elton Lynch, Steve Jackson (vocals).
Photographer: Byron Summerville.
Arrangers: Edward Whitehead; Charles Armstrong; Horace Ott; Roy Norman; Landy McNeal; John Lampkin; Patrick Adams; Sammy Lowe; Van McCoy.
The easy harmony sounds of Baltimore's Softones -- Marvin Brown, Steve Jackson, Elton Lynch, and Byron Summerville -- enjoyed limited popularity in the States, rarely ranging beyond the boundaries of the East Coast. Under Hugo & Luigi guidance, they scored with a fancy reworking of "That Old Black Magic" on H & L Records, but got labeled as remake artists and Hugo & Luigi studio puppets -- the producers/writers who stifled the Stylistics' record sales in the States. The Softones were forced to sing bad material, period! The Best of the Softones features one live cut, "You Go Your Way, I'll Go Mine," recorded in Japan, and 16 studio productions. They shine on the wistful "My Dream," written by lead singer Brown, whose bell-clear falsetto floats like a bar of Ivory on the lush ballad. There is more slow magic, including "I'm Gonna Prove It," "Hey There Lonely Girl," and "Silly Billy," a rare Ohio Players tune, but four insipid, campy compositions by Hugo & Luigi render this unplayable unless programmed first. ~ Andrew Hamilton