70s disco group Ecstasy Passion & Pain boasted the vibrant, supple lead vocals of Barbara Roy and dance classics produced by Philly Soul arranger/songwriter Bobby Martin.
Ecstasy, Passion and Pain were formed in 1973 in New York. Besides singer/guitarist/songwriter Roy (she wrote their hits, “I Wouldn’t Give You Up” and “Ask Me”), the group lineup included drummer Althea “Cookie” Smith, bassist Joseph Williams, guitarist Jimmy Clark percussionists Carl Jordan and later Alan Tizer, organist Billy Gardner and keyboardist Ronnie Foster who went on to record for Blue Note, Columbia (“Midnight Plane”), become a prolific producer (Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder, Dee Dee Bridgewater, David Sanborn, The Temptations, Stanley Turrentine) and was a popular contemporary jazz artist and top session player in the 80s and 90s. Though they were an actual band, Martin used MFSB (featuring the core rhythm section of guitarist Norman Harris, drummer Earl Young and bassist Ron Baker) and the background vocals of The Sweethearts of Sigma sisters Evette and Carla Benson and Barbara Ingram on their hits. Born Barbara Gaskins in Kingston, NC, she recorded with her niece Brenda Gaskins as Barbara and Brenda (“Let’s Get Together” b/w “Shame”on Avanti, “That’s When You’ve Got Soul” b/w “Hurtin’ Inside”, “Special Kind Of Love” and “One More Chance” on Heidi and “If I’m Hurt You’ll Feel The Pain”, “Never Love A Robin”, Don’t Wait Up For Me Mama”- all on the Musicor imprint, Dynamo and favorites of the devotees of the UK Northern Soul scene and “That’s Enough”).
Her niece retired from the music business and Barbara Roy began playing guitar for Inez and Charlie Foxx (“Mockingbird”) and on various recording sessions in New York. In 1973 Ecstasy Passion and Pain was formed and shortly afterwards through manager Phil Braxton, the group had a recording contract. Getting a deal with Roulette Records, Ecstasy Passion and Pain recorded astream of hits in the mid-70s: “I Wouldn’t Give You Up”, #17 R&B, #102 Pop, early 1974, “Good Things Don’t Last Forever”-written by Bunny Sigler, Norman Harris and Allan Felder hit #14 R&B, 93 Pop, summer 1974, the chugging “Ask Me”-written by lead singer Roy with an intro that recalls First Choice’s “Armed and Extremely Dangerous”, # 19 R&B, #52 Pop, fall 1974, the jubilant “One Beautiful Day”, #14 R&B, #48 Pop, early 1975, “Touch And Go”-another Sigler/Harris/Felder song, # 71 R&B, 98 Pop, spring 1976 and “Passion”, #99 R&B, early 1977.Four years later, the group resurfaced on the lead singer’s own Roy B label with the 12″ single, “If You Want Me”, a dance club hit. In 1986, Barbara Roy was a solo act on RCA Records charting #83 R&B with “Gotta See You Tonight” in the fall of that year.She was later heard on the 1989 Paul Simpson/Togetherness LP, We Are The Ones for Simp House/Cooltempo.
In 1999, UK label Westside/VCI issued the excellent 2 CD set, Good Things: The Roulette Recordings 1973-77, a treasure-filled collection of their hits, B-Sides, remixes (“Touch and Go”- the Tom Moulton 1976 remix and a 1986 Sunnyview 12″ remix ), lost gems (“Don’t Burn Your Bridges Behind You”, Martin’s “I’ll Do Anything For You”, “Somebody’s Loving You”, “Let’s Love”, “Born To Lose You”, a punchy cover of The Spinners’ “It’s A Shame”, the liberated women theme of “We Can Do It Too”, “There’s So Much Love All Around Me” and the Jurgen Korduletsch-produced “Dance The Night Away”) and eye-opening demo versions. Koch International reissued the group’s only LP, Ecstasy Passion & Pain on CD in February 1999. ~ Ed Hogan, All Music Guide