Lets just kiss and say goodbye – The Manhattans
The Manhattans were formed in the early 60s in New Jersey as a quintet led by writer/bass vocalist Winfred “Blue” Lovett and emotive lead singer George Smith, along with Edward “Sonny” Bivins, Richard “Ricky” Taylor and Kenneth “Wally” Kelly, all of whom had just returned from service in the armed forces.
The group was popular regionally and had minor national success on the strength of some solid recordings for Carnival Records (their version of the country tune “From Atlanta to Goodbye” was a gem) in the late 60s before gaining the attention of Columbia Records in 1970. Unfortunately, their Columbia signing coincided with the sudden illness and untimely death of lead singer Smith. During a tour through North Carolina, the Manhattans came upon a college student with an amazing Sam Cooke-like voice. Recognizing the incredible talent of this 21 year old, the group invited Gerald Alston to join, and he became the lead singer who would bring stardom to the quintet.
After “Kiss and Say Goodbye,” the Manhattans spent the remainder of the decade scoring almost exclusively on the R&B charts. Then in 1980, they again surprised the Pop world, crossing over for a Pop top 10 hit with their loping 1980 ballad, “Shining Star.” The group continued to record through the 80s, hitting on the Soul charts with such hits as “Crazy” and “Honey Honey.” Their last album for Columbia records was the wonderful but overlooked 1986 disc, Back To Basics, produced in part by Bobby Womack and featuring a young Regina Belle singing background vocals. Unfortunately, the Manhattans’ smooth, adult soul style seemed out of place in the frenetic, electric funk sounds dominating late 80s music, and they were dropped by Columbia records in 1987.
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