“And The Beat Goes On” by The Whispers (1979)

Related but not related: I was in a fairly crappy mood yesterday (as I’ve been most days lately), and while at work I decided to tune out the noise and listen to Questlove Supreme on Pandora (something I’ve been wanting to do since all the episodes were archived ummmm…six months ago? I operate on my own schedule). Babyface was the guest on the episode I was listening to, and someone (I can’t remember who) asked ‘Face if the twin Scott brothers of The Whispers (Walter & “Scotty”) always recorded their vocals in unison. The answer was…well, you should probably be listening to Questlove Supreme. So consider this my free advertisement for a great show.

Anyway. “And The Beat Goes On” was the first national hit for these same Whispers, a hit that arrived after more than a decade of touring the Chitlin Circuit and scoring hits up and down the Soul chart. It was one of the songs that announced the genius of writer/producer Leon Sylvers III, who occupied a space at the helm of Black music right before Kashif (who took a lot of stylistic cues from Sylvers) and Jam & Lewis (who Sylvers straight up mentored.) “Beat” (which younger folks may remember thanks to Will Smith’s wholesale jacking of it for “Miami”) is pure ear candy. Everything is a hook, from the three note synth squonk that opens the song (and reappears during the bridge) to that glorious chorus (and the pre-chorus!) to the Whispers’ harmonies. I was 3 when this song came out, but had I been 10 years older, I’m sure I would’ve busted my ass getting to the record store after hearing this Whispers and Leon Sylvers heater.

Danceable but not disco, funky but light enough for top 40 radio, “And The Beat Goes On” is perfection. The Whispers’ first R&B chart topper, their first gold single, recipient of at least 100,000 “THAT’S MY JAM”s, and a song that’s still capable of leading a charge to the dance floor.

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