Ashford & Simpson: Nickolas Ashford; Valerie Simpson (piano); Eric Gale, Steve Khan (guitar); Ray Chew, Robert Sabino, Philip Woo (keyboards); Francisco Centeno (bass); Christopher Parker, John Sussewell (drums); Ralph MacDonald, Dave Carey (percussion).
Producers: Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson.
Send It is not only one of Ashford & Simpson's finest releases, it is also the album that made them major stars as vocalists. As songwriters and producers, the Nick Ashford/Valerie Simpson team had been providing major hits since the '60s -- Gladys Knight & the Pips, Marvin Gaye (with Tammi Terrell), and Diana Ross are among the R&B/pop artists who had recorded their songs. But it wasn't until 1977's Send It that Ashford & Simpson's singing became as famous as their songwriting and producing. Send It was the first Ashford & Simpson album that went gold in the U.S., where over 500,000 copies were sold -- and it isn't hard to see why it did so well. From the sentimental title song to more up-tempo offerings like "By Way of Love's Express," "Top of the Stairs," and the funky "Don't Cost You Nothin' (a major hit), this album is excellent. Send It also includes the dance-oriented instrumental "Bourgie Bourgie," which became a vocal number when, in 1980, lyrics were added for a remake by Gladys Knight & the Pips. "Bourgie Bourgie" was a bigger hit for that group, although Ashford & Simpson's original version enjoyed a fair amount of exposure in dance clubs. Sleek, polished, and sophisticated, but not without grit, Send It is the essence of '70s Northern soul. If you only have a few Ashford & Simpson releases in your collection, the essential Send It should be one of them. ~ Alex Henderson