Soul with touch of west coast music…

Drummer/guitarist Leroy Bell met guitarist/bassist/keyboardist Casey James while both were members of Philadelphia band Special Blend. After the band disbanded, the two began a songwriting partnership.

Bell’s uncle was Philly soul mainstay Thom Bell, a key player at Gamble & Huff’s Philadelphia International Records. He signed the duo to a music publishing contract with Mighty Three Music, a company he co-owned with Gamble & Huff.

Their songs were covered by Elton John(the gold number nine pop/Top 36 R&B hit “Mama Can’t Buy Me Love,”) MFSB, LTD, the O’Jays, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Freda Payne, and Pockets. Another one of their songs was included in the 1979 basketball movie The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.

Around that time, A&M Records signed them to a record deal. Their debut single “Livin It Up (Friday Night)” went gold, going to number seven R&B and number 15 pop in the spring of 1979. That and the truthful ditty follow-up “Never Know What You’ve Got” were included on their debut LP, Bell and James. Their other album was Only Make Believe which spawned the R&B charting singles “Shakedown” and “Only Make Believe.” “Livin It Up (Friday Night)” can be found on Soul Hits of the ’70s: Didn’t It Blow Your Mind, Vol. 20, Disco Years, Vol. 7: The Best Disco in Town, ’70s Disco Ball Party Pack, Disco Box, and Soul Train: The Dance Years 1979.

Words from


In Black And White

A&M Records 1980

Tracks: Love Call My Name, You Got The Power, Gimme The Gun, Wind And Rain, Is It Fire, Runnin' For Your Life, In Spanish Harlem, Radiation, Don't Take The Money & Renegade.

Musicians on the In Black And White album: LeRoy Bell, Casey James, Jeff Porcaro, Carlos Vega, Robbie Nevil, John Morton, Neil Stubenhaus, Tag Henning, Gary Herbig, Jerry Hey, Gary Grant, Kim Hutchcroft, Bill Reichenbach, Kelly Harland, Patty Holly & The Waters.

Only Make Believe

A&M Records 1979

Tracks: Shakedown, (Babe) You Don't Love Me Like You Should, Only Make Believe, Stay, Say It's Gonna Last Forever, Laughing In The Face Of Love, Nobody Knows It & Fare Thee Well.

Musicians on the Only Make Believel album: Leroy Bell, Casey James, Jeff Baxter, Chuck Rainey, Tom Erak, Ernie Watts, The Seawind Horns & The Jones Girls.

Bell And James

A&M Records 1978

Tracks: Livin' It Up (Friday Night), Three Way Love Affair, Just Can't Get Enough (Of Your Love), Ask Billie (They Tell Me), You Never Know What You've Got, I Need You (Beside Me), Don't Let The Man Get You & I Love The Music.

Musicians on the Bell & James album: Leroy Bell, Casey James, Carla Benson, Harriet Tharpe & Yvette Benton.