By James Calemine
Stax Records president Al Bell brought in Detroit producer Don Davis to work with artists such as Carla Thomas and Johnny Taylor to diversify the label’s sound. The Dramatics were a vocal group from the Motor City. This album was recorded in Memphis and Detroit in the summer of 1971. The Concord Music Group re-released this classic soul album.
The 2011 version of this album features 9 bonus tracks. The Dramatics included Ron Banks, Larry Demps, Willie Ford, Lenny Mayes, L.J. Reynolds and William Howard. The songwriter Tony Hester began working with the group during this Stax era, and he wrote various hits for the group. Rob Bowman, author of Soulsville, U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records, wrote in the new album liner notes: “Hester’s masterful arrangement represented all that was fine about sweet soul in the early seventies.”
Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get begins with “Get Up And Get Down”, which hit #16 on the R & B charts. “Hot Pants In The Summertime” seemed to play off Sly & The Family Stone’s hit “Hot Fun In The Summertime”. The title track hit #9 on the Billboard charts in July 0f 71. A gem, “In The Rain” shot to #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 the following year, and The Dramatics attained a rare success in a short period of time. “Gimme Some” would easily chart as a hit for any band these days.
The first bonus track on this collection is “The Devil Is Dope”, which almost travels to Funkadelic territory. “Hey You! Get Off My Mountain” charted at #43 in May of 1973 before The Dramatics faded from the Stax roster. The final cut, “Hum A Song” was produced at Atlantic South Criterion Studios by the legendary production team of Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin.
Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get will make you want to get up off that thang, and dance til’ you feel better…