My introduction to the husband and wife song-writing/singing team of "Ashford & Simpson" was with their 80's hit "Solid (As A Rock)." I would come to learn that this dynamic duo was also responsible for some of the best known songs that came out of Motown during its heyday in the 60s like "Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "You're All I Need To Get By," all recorded by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. They were also responsible for producing and writing most of the songs on Diana Ross's solo album Diana Ross (aka Ain't No Mountain High Enough).
This CD, THE REAL THING: THE SONGS OF ASHFORD, SIMPSON AND ARMSTEAD, Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson are joined by former "Ikette" Joshie Jo Armstead, and this CD collects the trio's best work from 1964-1967, before Motown and before the solo recordings by Valerie Simpson and then as "Ashford & Simpson."
The only song I've heard before was Betty Everett's "Too Hot To Hold" (also available on Very Best of Betty Everett), which I love, so the rest of these songs are all new to me.
And I have to say that I'm really loving them! Although the songs are recorded by various artists, the lyrical writing style of Ashford, Simpson & Armstead is short, sweet and catchy. Most of the songs are less than 2 1/2-minutes but they have really good hooks and are instantly likable.
The tracks here capture a sound very different from the "Motown sound" and different from say "surf rock" like the Beach Boys or even "British Invasion" like the Beatles, but still manage to have that 60's beat.
This is a UK import, which is why it costs more, but Ace Records did a fantastic job remastering the songs. The tracks sound loud and clear and THE REAL THING comes with a small booklet with bio info, song info, and some pics written by Mick Patrick in 2009(who also compiled this set).
If you like 60s type music or just great music in general, I would highly recommend THE REAL THING: THE SONGS OF ASHFORD, SIMPSON AND ARMSTEAD.