Valerie Simpson and the late, great Nick Ashford might be best known as the songwriting duo behind some of Motown’s biggest hits, including Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing” and Diana Ross’s “Reach Out And Touch Somebody’s Hand”, not to mention Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” and the couple’s own 1984 mega-smash “Solid”. But Ashford & Simpson also excelled as album artists as well, especially once they signed to Warner Bros. in 1973 and released Gimme Something Real, a stirring collection of songs that showed they saved the best stuff for themselves. Its title track is one of the most beautiful secular gospel songs of our time, while deep gems like “Bend Me”, “Can You Make It Brother” and “I Need Your Light” showcase the duo’s skills as a straight-up funk group more than their ballads ever did. Had Motown and Warner Bros. focused on Nick and Valerie as a marquee act instead of the R&B Goffin and King, they would have had a lot more hits in their own cache than they had. And for that reason alone, Gimme Something Real is a lost soul classic well worth revisiting.