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Album Review

The Sound Of Philadelphia [coll] – [Soul Jazz Records] (33 rpm)

Hunter Gatherer   3/20/2005   12-inch, Soul

Soul Jazz Records has put together an awesome 20-track set of songs from the mid-60s to the mid-70s when funk and soul recordings made in Philadelphia dominated the charts and airwaves. (This is actually part two of a series started with their Philadelphia Roots compilation, which we have in the Soul collections on CD.)

This Philly compilation differs from most in that it reaches beyond the obvious Gamble and Huff hits (though they are certainly present here) and includes more obscure tracks, especially ones featuring the session musicians that made the Philly Sound possible. They are listed in the liner notes, but since they only got union fees for their playing I will list them here as well: Ronnie Baker (bass), Norman Harris (guitar), Earl Young (drums), Karl and Roland Chambers (drums, guitar), Vince Montana (vibes), Bobby Eli (guitar).

Though one or more of these musicians are on almost every track, in particular check out A3, B3 (The Family is actually MSFB), and B4.

The music is varied and not laid out in a neat stylistic order, so you will have to bounce around to find a track that works for you. There is straight ahead soul by uber-foxes The Three Degrees and Frankie Beverly. There are proto-disco tracks like 100 South Of Broadway and Hot Pants. There’s some party R&B by Ruby & the Party Gang. There’s soul with fuzz guitar by Yellow Sunshine. All tracks are worthwhile, just bounce around and you’ll find something you like.

There is a little bit of confusion around two of the tracks by The Three Degrees: D5 is the instrumental version of B2. They both appeared together on a 7″ on Neptune Records. The A side (with vocals, B2 on this collection) is called What I See and the B side (instro, D5 on this collection) is called Reflections Of Yesterday. A minor point sure, but one that must be cleared up.

Instrumentals: A5, B3, B4, C1, D2, D3, D5

–Hunter Gatherer

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