3 LPs on 2 CDs: WHERE WILL YOU GO WHEN THE PARTY'S OVER/HARD NOT TO LIKE IT/STRATEGY.
This Edsel three-fer covers Archie Bell & the Drells' tenure at Philadelphia International and their collaborations with such hitmakers as Gamble & Huff, McFadden & Whitehead, and Bunny Sigler. Listening to the three records in chronological order, one can hear the group's transition from soul-funk stalwarts to disco band extraordinaire. The first album, 1976's Where Will You Go When the Party's Over, featured two minor hits in "Don't Let Love Get You Down" and "Everybody Have a Good Time," but the title track also would go on to be a cult classic at such famous discos as the Paradise Garage and Studio 54 as well as David Mancuso's famous Loft parties in New York City. But it is 1977's Hard Not to Like It that finds Bell & the Drells in a full-force embrace of disco, with song titles like "Disco Showdown" and "Disco Fever" making the declaration for those who may not have noticed the band's new upbeat sound upon first listen. This eight-song session is probably the best the band got during this time, as 1979's Strategy is all but exhausting, and sometimes downright awful ("Tighten Up at the Disco" being one of the principal offenders). This is a nice pickup for die-hard fans looking to get all of these records in one place, but casual fans may just want to stick to a greatest-hits compilation instead. ~ Rob Theakston