“The Bells” by The Originals (1970)

I’ve talked myself into bumping this song up a star, as it’s one of the best vocal group songs from the early ‘70s . It bridged the gap between doo-wop and the smooth Philly soul of Thom Bell (The Stylistics). There have been several amazing cover versions of “The Bells”, but I’m going to go with the original version by, uh…The Originals for this entry. You can picture “The Bells” being played as the last dance at one of those blue light basement parties that were popular in the Black community at the time. Motown’s house band cooks (special shout out to whoever played sax), and you’ve also gotta remember that Marvin Gaye co-composed (and played drums on!) “The Bells” right before the beginning of his imperial phase. Of the cover versions, Laura Nyro and LaBelle’s version comes closest to the magic of the original version, but Color Me Badu’s 1993 remake (produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis) is no slouch. Bryan Abrams sings his lungs out here. Gonna include videos for all three versions; the CMB clip is a pretty stunning a capella version recorded for MTV.

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