Herbert Feemster (later known as Herb Fame) hooked up with Francine Hurd Barker on the advice of disco pioneer and friend Van “The Hustle” McCoy, and enjoyed a string of local and national hits with ‘Let’s Fall In Love’, ‘Close Your Eyes’, ‘For Your Love’ and a fine cover of Mickey & Sylvia’s standard, ‘Love Is Strange’, where they stuck to the original template of dialogue and repeated phrases. Other important takes on this track are by Lonnie Donegan, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly and Paul McCartney’s Wings, who included it on the Wild Life album. Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton and Everything But The Girl also put their spin on the 50s hit.
Dubbed the Sweethearts Of Soul (though they weren’t strictly an item), Peaches & Herb dominated the circuit in the late 60s and early 70s. But legal wrangling over royalties persuaded Herb to put the project on ice until 1976, when he left his day job in the police department and called McCoy who, again, steered Herb in the right direction with a new partner, Linda Greene. That duo released seven albums.
The first, a self-titled disc for MCA, in 1977, was a spectacular return. Produced by McCoy, it featured a hot ensemble including Richard Tee, Hugh McCracken and Eric Gale. Back in the spotlight – and in demand – the 1978 album, 2 Hot!, was a smooth delight, with producer Freddie Perren and arranger Wade Marcus capturing the classic Peaches & Herb sound on ‘We’ve Got Love’, ‘Shake Your Groove Thing’ and the more experimental ‘Easy As Pie’. Stellar personnel included David T Walker, Melvin “Wah Wah Watson” Ragin and James Gadson. When you see those names on the credits, you know the song is worth hearing.
The true crossover smash was ‘Reunited’, a triple-platinum blockbuster that spent a month atop the Billboard R&B and Hot 100 Singles charts and sold in excess of two million copies, hence its No.5 ranking in the end-of-year summary. It also went silver in the UK and would be memorably performed by David Hasselhoff at the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Twice The Fire and Worth The Wait, mined that ecstatic funky groove and trademark R&B with smart brass, strings and synths, reaching an apotheosis with Sayin’ Something (1981) and the key numbers ‘Wear You Out’ and ‘Picking Up The Pieces’. Both tracks are perfect examples of that Peaches & Herb recipe for the boudoir.
Released in 1983, Remember spawned the title track hit, proving that the duo’s name had longevity and maintained a place in the hearts of their following. Behind the tender music, Herb’s philosophy is quite simple and refreshingly honest. “As long as I’m alive the name will stay there, the name will stay alive. I work. I believe in work. I believe if a man is capable of working… if he’s healthy enough to do it… then you do it. I don’t believe in retirement. I’ll just work until I fade away. I believe in working.”
That much is evident in the authentic sound of 2009’s Colors Of Love, where Negre revives the brand perfectly. For further discovery, check out Best Of Peaches & Herb, Reunited or the ever-reliable 20th Century Masters collection. Sweethearts of soul will love those essential, sensual grooves.
The original Peaches And Herb, former sales assistant Herb Fame and vocalist Francine Barker, were teamed by Van McCoy. Their debut album sounded a bit trite at times, but was redeemed by a couple of wonderful duets. This was their second album of 1967, rushed out to keep the momentum going from the response to the two chart hits from their debut. They remained hot with an entertaining version of "Love Is Strange," which had sparkling production and nice harmonies. Words: Ron Wynn
The first of two albums by the duo Peaches And Herb issued in 1967. This debut LP started slowly as the title track got good response, then exploded when the songs "For Your Love" and "Close Your Eyes" became huge soul hits and even attracted some pop attention. They continued rolling along until 1970, when Barker left to get married. Fame was left without a partner until 1975, when McCoy arranged for Fame to meet and work with Linda Green, reviving Peaches And Herb. Words: Ron Wynn
Disco jams and sweet ballads are featured on Peaches & Herb's return to the charts after a long absence. "Reunited," a majestic ballad about lovers getting back together, pulverized the charts, it topped the pop and the R&B charts, it stayed at number one for four weeks running on Billboard's Pop 100 Chart. A new Peaches, Linda Greene, is featured. Francine Barker was the original Peaches who scored with Herb Fame (Feemster) in the '60s with "Close Your Eyes" and "Lets Fall in Love." This new Peaches oozed sexuality, and her voice could raise the dead. Producer Freddie Perren, well aware of the disco rage, balanced their slowies with rump shakers like "Shake Your Groove Thing," and "We've Got Love," two of their better uptempo numbers. "Groove Thing" went to number five in the country and was their biggest record ever until "Reunited." The duo's specialty were ballads, and "Fours a Traffic Jam" is a beauty, Fame's sweet falsetto and Greene's sexy phrasings are intoxicating. Words: Andrew Hamilton
This long overdue set coincided with Polygram's mid-'90s reissues of R&B that fell under the corporate umbrella. This 1996 set covers the duo's 1978-1981 work with Polydor. In the late '70s, Herb Fame met up with a new Peaches, Linda Greene, and they began a four-year string of hits. The disco classic "Shake Your Groove Thing" perfectly captured the disco's near frantic party vibe. The anachronistic and charming ballad "Reunited" was the duo's biggest hit. What bogs The Best of Peaches & Herb down is the remarkable falling off of the quality. The later songs that capitalized on the formula, "Roller- Skatin' Mate" and the sweet to the point of nausea "Pledge My Love," are almost as good as the better known songs. But by the time the bland and derivative "Lovey Dovey (Girl & Guy)," "Freeway," and "Surrender" rolled around it is clear producer Freddie Perren was shooting blanks. The Best of Peaches and Herb also includes the disco version of "Shake Your Groove Thing." This doesn't offer any tracks from their long gone 1977 MCA album or the instant cutout they did for Columbia in 1983. But for a solid compilation, this is pretty good. Words: Jason Elias