The Dramatics: Whatcha See is Whatcha Get

Two-fer of classic 1972 soul LP and its 1973 follow-up

The Detroit-based Dramatics first full-length album, Watcha See is Whatcha Get, was also their ticket to the national soul scene. The group had been kicking around in a variety of forms since the mid-60s, but made only light impressions on the charts. They hooked up with Stax in the late ‘60s, but it wasn’t until they returned to Detroit and cut “Whatcha See is Whatcha Get” with producer/songwriter Tony Hester that they really broke through. The single’s chugging Latin beat, tight strings and horns, and a lead vocal that flowed between the group members proved irresistible, and the single rose into the national Top 10. The funky follow-up “Get Up and Get Down” momentarily stalled the group’s commercial momentum, but the album’s next single, “In the Rain” rose to #5 Pop and topped the R&B chart. The album version of the latter hit stretches out the single’s 3:29 to an even more inviting 5:11.

The group continued to score on the R&B chart, but never again found the same level of cross-over success. Additional personnel changes altered the group’s vocal balance, with lead singer William Howard replaced by Larry Reynolds in 1973. You can hear the transition in this disc’s bonus tracks. Concord’s reissue includes the group’s entire second album, A Dramatic Experience (including the superb anti-drug “The Devil is Dope”), as well as the funky bonus tracks “Stand Up Clap Your Hands” and “Hum a Song (From Your Heart).” The entire disc has been remastered in 24-bit audio by Joe Tarantino, and given the low quality of vinyl sold in the early ‘70s, this is very likely the best these discs have ever sounded outside the studio. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

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