Archie Bell and the Drells – Tighten Up

First Hit #1: May 18, 1968

Continuing 1968’s odd sound, Archie Bell and the Drells give us a song that has one foot in the future, and one in the past. Tighten Up is about some kind of special dance, like all the special dance songs from the earlier part of the decade. You get dance instructions, which are kind of vague but sound like fun, but you mostly get Archie Bell going spoken word and giving instructions to the band, while singing the hook on occasion. The sound is new, and different, and honestly would fit perfectly in the middle of the ’70s, after the funk it predicts becomes a sensation. Listening to it, I also wonder how much influence it’s going to have on musical forms like hip hop, Bell might not quite be rapping as we know it, but he’s definitely doing something that could be considered a prototype to the style, and the overall sound is something new, fresh, and interesting, all while being tied to the cheesy dance hits of long ago. It’s a warning of things to come, and really good and interesting things that will change the music landscape for the better, and for the worse, depending on the artist picking up the cues.

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