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  Ashford and Simpson
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You'd never know it by looking at the critical acclaim they've received, but Ashford and Simpson have had one of the most consistent careers in r&b.  They have written and produced hits for Motown, Chaka Khan and Ray Charles in addition to their own singing career. 

Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson met in a New York church in their youth, where Nick said he joined the choir solely to get close to Valerie.   They soon discovered their mutual interest in music and began writing songs.   In 1966, they submitted a song for Ray Charles and, to their suprise, "Let's Go Get Stoned" became of his largest 60s hits. 

From there, they moved to Motown, where they were responsible for most of the classic Marvin Gaye-Tammi Terrell duets, including "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "You're All I Need to Get By" and "Your Precious Love."   Their powerfully romantic lyrics meshed perfectly with the emotional chemistry between Gaye and Terrell, resulting in a magical combination that has kept those tunes in circulation.  Simpson replaced Terrell in the studio once she fell ill.

Their next project was getting Diana Ross off to a solid solo career.   The majestic, dramatic production of her version of "Mountain" helped cement her status as a diva and she turned to them throughout her career for material.

Simpson had recorded a couple of albums for Motown in the early 70s with little fanfare (or promotion), but when they began their singing career in earnest upon signing with Warner Brothers.  Some scoffed at Ashford's high-pitched vocal tone, but there was no denying the soulfulness of their voices.

As disco dominated the latter part of the decade, they switched gears and made some of the most mature, soulful dance tracks of the time courtesy of "Found A Cure," "Stay Free," and "It Seems to Hang On."  Many of these tracks were mixed by the legendary Jimmy Simpson, who did the entire Stay Free album. 

In the 1980s "Solid," "High Rise," and "Street Opera" kept them in the public eye.  An album with Maya Angelou is the last known recording of theirs I'm aware of.

Ashford and Simpson's Deepest Grooves

Exposed (Tamla, 1970)
Valerie's solo debut, featuring "Silly Wasn't I."

I Wanna Be Selfish (Warner Brothers, 1973)

So So Satisfied (Warner Brothers, 1974)

Send It (Warner Brothers, 1977)

Is It Still Good To Ya (Warner Brothers, 1978)
The title was remade by Teddy Pendergrass.  "It Seems to Hang On" is also here.

Stay Free (Warner Brothers, 1979)
The disco-soul masterpiece where they truly came to terms with the prevailing sound and made it work for them.  Having Jimmy Simpson involved doesn't hurt either.

The Boss - Diana Ross (Motown, 1979)
A & S come to Miss Ross's rescue once again.  With "The Boss" and "Nobody Gets the Prize."

A Musical Affair (Warner Brothers, 1980)

Street Opera (Capitol, 1982)

Solid (Capitol, 1984)

Capitol Gold (Capitol, 1993)

Been Found (Ichiban, late 1990s)
A low-key collaboration with Maya Angelou proving themselves to be in fine form lyrically and vocally.

Best Of Ashford & Simpson (Rhino, 2002)
New compilation focuses on the Warner Brothers albums, making this preferable to Capitol Gold.  Includes a live medley and "Stuff Like That," their song with Quincy Jones.

Copyright ©2001, 2002  All rights reserved.

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