Taking Their Time: The SOS Band

Thesis

The SOS Band also known as Sounds of Success is an electro-funk group who gained fame in the 1980s. They played a great part in the disco era for their hit song  “Take Your Time (Do It Right)”

Formation

The band started in 1977 in Atlanta, GA. The group was made up of keyboardist/vocalist Jason Bryant, saxophonists Billy Ellis and Willie “Sonny” Killebrew, guitarist Bruno Speight, bassist John Alexander Simpson, drummer James Earl Jones III, and lead vocalist Mary Davis. Originally the name of the group was called Sounds of Santa Monica.

Their manager sent a demo to Clarence Avant, head of Tabu Records. Successfully they were signed. Avant suggested they worked with songwriter/producer Sigidi Abdullah. Abdullah then came up with a new band name, The S.O.S. Band, with S.O.S. standing for “Sounds of Success”. 

Early Success

Abdullah produced and co-wrote “Take Your Time (Do It Right)” – which went platinum – with Harold Clayton, the song parking at number one R&B for five weeks and peaking at number three pop on Billboard’s charts in spring 1980. 

Their second album, Too, went to number 30 R&B in the summer of 1981.

The Later Years

On the band’s third album, III, they worked with producer Leon Sylvers III and writers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Their breaking single, “High Hopes”, hit number 25 R&B in the fall of 1982 while the album went to number 27 R&B in late 1982.

Jam and Lewis took over the production duties on their fourth album, On The Rise, scoring with the number two hit “Just Be Good To Me” and the number five beatbox ballad “Tell Me If You Still Care”. On The Rise became their second gold album, hitting number seven R&B in the summer of 1983.

The formula continued to work: Just The Way You Like It (including the number six R&B single “Just The Way You Like It”) went to number six R&B in the fall of 1984 and Sands Of Time (including the number two R&B hit “The Finest”) went gold and hit number four R&B in the spring of 1986. Many of these releases, as well as the sound of early releases, helped to popularize the now-classic sound of the TR-808 Roland drum machine.

The Break-Up

In late 1986, vocalist Mary Davis left The S.O.S. Band to pursue a solo career.

 

One of Many Nights, with lead vocalist Chandra Currelley and produced by Curtis Williams, followed in 1991. It failed to chart.

The Make Up

In August 1994, former lead vocalist Mary Davis reunited with Abdul Ra’oof and together they reconstructed a new band with the same funky S.O.S. sound, appearing on comedian Sinbad’s HBO concert specials.

 

Currently, the SOS Band is still performing all across the country. They recently performed at the BET Awards paying tribute to Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis.

Conclusion

The SOS Band has created music that has lasted generations. Their hits continue to get played at parties, family gatherings and etc. Their name doesn’t usually come up in the Disco world  but their contribution in the music period is undeniable.

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