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Bell & James

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Drummer/guitarist Leroy Bell met guitarist/bassist/keyboardist Casey James while both were members of Philadelphia band Special Blend. After the band disbanded, the two began a songwriting partnership. Bell’s uncle was Philly soul mainstay Thom Bell, a key player at Gamble & Huff’s Philadelphia International Records. He signed the duo to a music publishing contract with Mighty Three Music, a company he co-owned with Gamble & Huff. Their songs were covered by Elton John(the gold number nine pop/Top 36 R&B hit “Mama Can’t Buy Me Love,”) MFSB, LTD, the O’Jays, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Freda Payne, and Pockets. Another one of their songs was included in the 1979 basketball movie The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh. Around that time, A&M Records signed them to a record deal. Their debut single “Livin It Up (Friday Night)” went gold, going to number seven R&B and number 15 pop in the spring of 1979. That and the truthful ditty follow-up “Never Know What You’ve Got” were included on their debut LP, Bell and James. Their other album was Only Make Believe which spawned the R&B charting singles “Shakedown” and “Only Make Believe.” “Livin It Up (Friday Night)” can be found on Soul Hits of the ’70s: Didn’t It Blow Your Mind, Vol. 20, Disco Years, Vol. 7: The Best Disco in Town, ’70s Disco Ball Party Pack, Disco Box, and Soul Train: The Dance Years 1979.

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