Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye’s 1974 version of “You Are Everything” holds a rightful place among Motown’s most soulful entries of the 1970s, and its most beautifully-turned duets. But the original version of this elegant song, written by the peerless team of Thom Bell and Linda Creed, rarely gets the limelight it deserves. It was by those prolific 1970s hitmakers from Philadelphia, the Stylistics, and it took its bow on the R&B chart on October 30, 1971.
That was a memorable debut year for the soul troupe, in which they had already enjoyed their first two soul chart entries, both Top 10 successes, in “You’re A Big Girl Now” and “Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart).” The first had been a regional hit in 1970 before the Stylistics were snapped up by Avco Records, and the second was another Bell & Creed original, which indeed Ross and Gaye would cut as their follow-up to “You Are Everything,” again from the Diana & Marvin album.
The Stylistics’ version of the song featured the distinctive lead vocals of Russell Thompkins Jr., and while he didn’t attempt the ad-libbed inflections so familiar in Gaye’s part of the later version, the Stylistics’ single was a classy recording in its own right. It entered Billboard’s Best Selling Soul Singles list at No.43 and, a week later, started its ascent of the Hot 100. It rose steadily on both charts to spend two weeks at No.9 pop in January and reach No. 10 on the soul side. It became the group’s first gold disc.
Inexplicably, Diana and Marvin’s fine remake of the song was never released as an American single, but it became a firm favourite across the Atlantic, reaching No.5. “Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)” then followed up with a No.25 peak. Later versions of “You Are Everything” included one by Rod Stewart, for his 1991 album Vagabond Heart, and the track has been repeatedly sampled by soul stars, including by Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Lopez, Craig David and Usher.
The Stylistics’ original of “You Are Everything” is on You Are Everything: The Essential Stylistics, which can be bought here.