The Very Best of Ashford & Simpson

You've no doubt hummed a Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson tune.

You've no doubt hummed a Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson tune. That's because the prolific husband-and-wife tunesmiths wrote several enduring Motown classics ("You're All I Need to Get By," "Ain't Nothin Like the Real Thing"), as well as such catchy numbers as "I'm Every Woman," "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)," and "Let's Go Get Stoned" (covered by Ray Charles, it was the duo's first songwriting hit). The A&S formula—melding dual church upbringings with R&B/ pop crescendos and from-the-heart lyrics—sparked a new brand of contemporary gospel and launched the duo's own career as a musical act, first with Warner Bros. and later with Capitol. That's the focus of this 15-track collection, which opens with a live medley of A&S' Motown hits, then leads into such top 10 titles as "It Seems to Hang On," and "Found a Cure," plus the still-wrenching ballad "Is It Still Good to Ya" and their collaboration on Quincy Jones' "Stuff Like That." While A&S didn't notch as many No. 1s on their own—the pair's only chart-topper was 1984's "Solid"—this compilation is definitely solid proof of their talent.—GM

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