required listening

CD Reviews


The Sound Of Philadelphia : A Tribute To Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff, Vol.1

Society Hill/Essential Media (US) 942326816-2 (cd)

SOCIETY HILL ORCHESTRA-T.S.O.P. (The Sound Of Philadelphia)/PEOPLE’S CHOICE-Me And Mrs Jones; Back Stabbers; Do It Any Way You Wanna/JEAN CARNE feat. MICHAEL UPSHAW-Hope That We Can Be Together Soon/DAVID BEASLEY’S FABULOUS EBONYS-It’s Forever/TONY STRONG & the PHILLY ALL STARS-Together/ILLUSIONS-Darlin’ Darlin’ Baby (Sweet Tender Love)/THIRD WORLD-Now That We Found Love/MELLOW MOODS-Tell Love Hello/LEGENDARY BLUENOTES feat. SUGARBEAR-The Love I Lost/THREE DEGREES-When Will I See You Again/GLENN LEONARD feat. JEAN CARNE-You Know How To Make Me Feel So Good/JOHNNY FLASH-You’re My Latest My Greatest Inspiration/TONY STRONG & the PHILLY SOUL-Friends No More


The Sound Of Philadelphia : A Tribute To Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff, Vol.2

Society Hill/Essential Media (US) 942326842-2 (cd)

LEGENDARY BLUE NOTES feat. SUGARBEAR-If You Don’t Know Me By Now; I Should Be Your Lover/JEAN CARNE-Don’t Let It Go To Your Head/PEOPLE’S CHOICE-Let’s Groove; I Wanna Know Your Name/JOHNNY FLASH-Don’t Leave Me This Way; Slow Motion/PHILLY CREAM-Cowboys To Girls/TONY STRONG & the PHILLY SOUL-I’ll Always Love My Mama/VICKI AUSTIN-Dance Turned Into A Romance/ILLUSIONS-Let’s Make A Baby/ARTHUR PRYSOCK-When Love Is New/THREE DEGREES-Dirty Ol’ Man/JEAN CARNE-Free Love/SOCIETY HILL ORCHESTRA-T.S.O.P. (The Sound Of Philadelphia) (TV version)

The two volumes here paying tribute to the songwriting prowess of the team of Philadelphia International founders, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff highlight the high standard of their writing abilities but, with (almost) all being comparatively recent studio productions - mainly by Butch Ingram - they tend not to be able to match the original versions of the material, given that the production and arrangement artistry of the back-in-the-day recordings were, in themselves, damn near matchless.  Interestingly, only Arthur Prysock’s ‘When Love Is New‘ (from volume 2) - originally a Polydor release in 1976 and produced by John Davis - is actually a product of the era, elsewhere relying on remakes by the original artists or a ‘handover‘ to other Philly associates.  Versions of the T.S.O.P. theme top and tail the double and, perhaps more than elsewhere, demonstrate the magic to be missing, whereas People’s Choice deliver a credible ‘Me And Mrs Jones‘ and the ever-polished Jean Carne excels in the Sharon Paige rôle duetting with Michael Upshaw on ‘Hope We Can Be Together Soon’.  (Upshaw was a new name to this writer but a quick google reveals his usual genre to be religious music.)  Ms Carne enjoys a further duet, sharing the mic with former True Reflection and Temptations‘ member, Glenn Leonard (‘You Know How To Make Me Feel So Good’), while David Beasley’s Fabulous Ebonys come over well on their revisit to the Ebonys‘ classic, ‘It’s Forever‘ and Philly Intruders‘ group member, Tony Strong sounds pretty good leading ‘Together‘ and ‘Friends No More’.    Among those linking the two cds we have the latest Three Degrees incarnation - Valerie Holiday, Helen Scott and Freddi Poole - revisiting their hits, ‘When Will I See You Again‘ and ‘Dirty Ol‘ Man’, their non-Butch Ingram productions sounding fuller than many others on display but Johnny Flash is sadly no Teddy Pendergrass when it comes to his selections.  Jean Carne turns up again, this time solo reworking her ‘Don’t Let It Go To Your Head‘ and ‘Free Love’ and Philly Cream do nicely updating the Intruders‘ ‘Cowboys To Girls’.  All in all, a little bit of a curate’s egg but a worthy project and for those folks who can never get too much of a good thing and/or the ‘version collectors’, this pair must have strong appeal.

review posted 31/8/18