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THE DRAMATICS MARCH 1977 INTERVIEW
"We're still singin' like we're starvin'"!

Starvin' they ain't, but the Dramatics still put every ounce of effort into their work. Over the years, they've scored heavily with singles but now they're really getting established in the album market.


ALTHOUGH they've actually been to gether for a total of nearly thirteen years now, The Dramatics are in no doubt about the way they approach their work. "We're still singing like we're starving!" they report jokingly.

With each successive album proving more popular than the last, the group may not be starving any more but there's no question about the fact that they really work hard.

The latest offering from the group is their third for A.B.C. Records. The group were with Stax for several years before that company's unfortunate demise and enjoyed some of their strongest sales success with the label. Hits like "In The Rain", their debut "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get", "The Devil Is Dope" and "Hey You! Get Off My Mountain" sustained the five-man team through quite a few years.

Since joining A.B.C., the group haven't scored too heavily on the singles charts, but their previous sets, "Jackpot" and "Drama V" have established them strongly in the album market.

"Joy Ride" is the name of the new set and the group were anxious to talk about it. "For this album, we used a particular concept. One side is basically ballads, the other is uptempo, disco. The idea really came from L.J. (Reynolds) because he felt that it would appeal to everyone. It really emerged after he'd been listening to some other current albums.

"We believe it gives a variety of sounds — which is also why we used different people as producers and arrangers on different cuts."

The Dramatics' message is basically one that deals with love and relationships between people. "We got off into other kinds of messages earlier with albums like "Dramatic Experience" where we dealt with the whole drug situation on songs like "The Devil Is Dope" and to be honest, we feel that it may well have been ahead of its time. Public and the radio were just not opened up to it.

"For instance, say three years ago, you couldn't use the word 'booty'! Now — look at K.C. with "Shake Your Booty". Times change."

"We feel that if it's something we can feel, then it's got to be something that other people can relate to," the team comments.

"No, we don't get bored dealing with love because there are so many situations and phases. Either you've lost someone and can't get over it, or you're in love with someone and can't break loose — just think about all the different combinations there are!"

Career-wise, the group say they're constantly looking for things bigger and better. They confess that they feel that they need a strong national hit to get them across to a wider audience and state that "a lot of our material has been very good — we just need that one song to do it.

"Part of the problem must lie behind the scenes. There hasn't been a coordinated effort on the part of everyone involved — the record company, management and the group — to really sort out our direction. But we are changing that. It has been a definite problem up until now and we feel that things might have happened more for us if more coordination had been involved."

The Dramatics have worked hard to create an image for themselves. "We've succeeded to a point collectively and individually — mostly through our own style. We don't sound like any one else. But we realize the importance of getting that image over.

"Today, black music is more important than ever and we feel that with a little more time and effort on behalf of the record company, we can contribute strongly to the scene. We're hoping that with this new album, we'll get that kind of support."

The gentlemen feel sure that "this is our best album yet. We always want to do the best possible job and it's very important to grow and expand with each new project. We feel that that's what we're doing and we're very much aware that music has become far more universal and our albums are made with that in mind.

"We all recognize the importance of the international market outside the States and that's another area we'll be concentrating on strongly in the future."

The Dramatics are one of the few groups who use Detroit as a recording base. "Yes, the city still has a particular sound to it. The studio have a certain something. You'll notice that a lot of Motown people were on the album — like Earl Van Dyke. And every place has its own sound.

"We've thought about recording in Philly but it never came about. But Detroit's home for us — so we'll probably stick with it"

The group doesn't feel it has to follow every new fad "because when you're versatile you can do anything! As long as whatever you do is good, people will accept it. The secret is to adjust to your environment. We know there's a lot of good competition out there — but that creates energy for us, makes us want to do better.

"We've felt that we've had records that matched whatever was going on out there at the time, but that lack of support we talked about earlier meant that we missed out. Nevertheless, we're thankful for the support we have gotten from the public and we want them to know that they can look to The Dramatics for some good listening music in the future!"

With their intention of working closely in conjunction with all those associated with their career, the group can look to enjoying the kind of crossover acceptance which is now rightfully theirs.


About the Writer
David Nathan is the founder and CEO of SoulMusic.com and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as 'The British Ambassador Of Soul.' From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create SoulMusic.com Records as a leading reissue label.
  
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