Song of the Week – People Make the World Go Round, The Stylistics


The Stylistics were one of the best soul groups of the early ‘70s. They scored numerous hits that crossed over to the pop charts on the strength of lead singer Russell Thompkins Jr.’s falsetto, the work of ace producer Thom Bell, and the songwriting by the team of Bell and lyricist Linda Creed. Between 1971 and 1974, they charted an impressive series of consecutive R&B Top 10 hits, including:

Stop, Look, Listen (#9 R&B, #39 Pop)
You are Everything (#10 R&B, #9 Pop)
Betcha by Golly, Wow (#2 R&B, #3 Pop)
I’m Stone in Love with You (#4 R&B, #10 Pop)
Break Up to Make Up (#5 R&B, #5 Pop)
You’ll Never Get to Heaven (#8 R&B, #23 Pop)
Rockin’ Roll Baby (#3 R&B, #14 Pop)
You Make Me Feel Brand New (#5 R&B, #2 Pop)

The best was 1972’s “People Make the World Go Round” (#6 R&B, #25 Pop), today’s SotW.

Bell and Creed’s orchestral style was often reminiscent of the Bacharach/David team. (Dionne Warwick probably agreed since she popularized so many Bacharach/David songs and also recorded a hit with the Bell/Creed penned “You’ll Never Get to Heaven.”) The similarity is especially evident in “PMtWGR,” with its use of mixed time signatures.

The track also follows the early ‘70s trend originated by Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder to write songs that reflected social issues of the day; in this case, addressing inner city issues like garbage and bussing strikes, and air pollution.

Trashmen didn’t get my trash today
Oh, why? Because they want more pay
Buses on strike want a raise in fare
So they can help pollute the air

The story behind this song’s chart success is that it was originally an album track, not intended for release as a single. But so many fans demanded radio airplay that the label rushed the record into release as a single. That was a good decision!

Enjoy… until next week.