The S O S Band is one of the most influential groups in the history of R&B music. Their sound, which combines funk, soul, disco and synth-pop, has inspired countless artists and genres over the years. In this blog post, I will explore some of the highlights of their career and legacy, as well as share some of my personal favorites from their discography.
The S O S Band was formed in 1977 in Atlanta, Georgia, by keyboardist and vocalist Jason Bryant, saxophonist Billy Ellis, guitarist Bruno Speight, bassist John Simpson, drummer James Earl Jones III and lead singer Mary Davis. The name S O S stands for Sounds of Success, which reflects their ambition and confidence. They signed with Tabu Records, a label founded by legendary producer Clarence Avant, who gave them creative freedom and support.
Their debut album, S.O.S., was released in 1980 and featured the hit single “Take Your Time (Do It Right)”, which reached number one on the R&B chart and number three on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was co-written by Sigidi Abdullah and Harold Clayton, who also produced the album along with Bryant. The song is a catchy and upbeat dance anthem that encourages listeners to enjoy life and love at their own pace. The song also showcases Davis’ powerful and soulful vocals, which became one of the band’s trademarks.
The band followed up with their second album, Too, in 1981, which included the singles “Do It Now (Part 1)” and “You”. The latter was a collaboration with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who were then members of The Time. Jam and Lewis would become the band’s main producers for the next four albums, starting with III in 1982. This album marked a shift in the band’s sound, as they incorporated more synthesizers and drum machines, creating a sleeker and more modern feel. The album spawned the hits “High Hopes” and “Have It Your Way”, as well as the classic ballad “Tell Me If You Still Care”, which has been sampled by many hip-hop artists such as Monica, Nas and Jay-Z.
The band reached their peak of popularity with their fourth album, On the Rise, in 1983, which featured their biggest hit, “Just Be Good to Me”. The song was written by Jam and Lewis and is a smooth and seductive groove that warns a lover not to cheat or lie. The song was a crossover success, reaching number two on the R&B chart and number 55 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also became an international hit, reaching number 13 on the UK Singles Chart. The song has been covered by many artists such as Deborah Cox, Beats International and The Sugarbabes.
The band continued to release successful albums throughout the 1980s, such as Just the Way You Like It (1984), Sands of Time (1986) and Diamonds in the Raw (1989). They also collaborated with other artists such as Alexander O’Neal, Cherrelle and Kurtis Blow. Some of their notable songs from this period include “The Finest”, “No One’s Gonna Love You”, “Weekend Girl” and “Borrowed Love”. The band’s last album with Davis as the lead singer was One of Many Nights (1991), which featured the single “Sometimes I Wonder”.
Davis left the band in 1992 to pursue a solo career. She was replaced by Chandra Currelley-Young, who recorded two albums with the band: No Lies (1993) and S.O.S. Band (1995). The band went on hiatus after that until 2006, when they reunited for a tour with Davis back as the lead singer. They have since performed at various festivals and events around the world, celebrating their legacy and entertaining their loyal fans.
The S O S Band is one of the most respected and influential groups in R&B music history. Their sound has shaped generations of artists and genres, from new jack swing to neo-soul to hip-hop. Their songs have been sampled, covered and remixed by countless musicians across different styles and eras. Their lyrics have touched millions of listeners with their messages of love, empowerment and positivity. Their legacy is undeniable and timeless.