Not all records classified as Philly Soul come from Philadelphia-based artists, though all share characteristics – orchestral string arrangements married to rhythm and blues with a funk influence that bridged the way toward disco. Here are thirty examples of the genre, with the songwriting-production team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff working on the lion’s share of these releases.
Inspired by the season and the December 23 birthdays of Pearl Jam‘s Eddie Vedder, The Chi-Lites’ Eugene Record, Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes, Esther Phillips, Tim Hardin, Chet Baker, Harold Dorman, Johnny Kidd, Rainbow’s Graham Bonnett, and Harry Shearer.
Inspired by the August 11 birthdays of A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Death Cab For Cutie/The Postal Service’s Ben Gibbard, Joe Jackson, Eric Carmen, Joe Rogan, Kris Kross’ Chris Kelly, Mike Douglas, and producer/composer Kenny Gamble.
You may not know their names, but you know many of their songs. Individually, but more often as a team, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff wrote and/or produced a lot of timeless classic songs in the soul music genre. They were the pre-eminent rhythm and blues architects of the first half of the 1970s, and their production style paved the way for disco, before that genre got watered down. Plenty of their records found their way to the top of the pop charts as well.
Today is Kenny Gamble’s 75th birthday. To celebrate, Tunes du Jour presents a playlist of twenty great Gamble and Huff sides.
On May 31, President Obama issued a proclamation declaring June 2016 as African American Music Appreciation Month. The designation has actually been around since 1979, when President Carter commemorated the cultural and financial contributions of music made by African Americans at a reception at the White House. Back then it was Black Music Month, an idea conceived by music industry executive and radio personality Dyana Williams and her husband, Kenny Gamble.
You may not know Gamble’s name, but you know his music. The co-founder of Philadelphia International Records with Leon Huff, Gamble and his music partner have written and produced hits for Diana Ross & the Supremes and the Temptations, Dusty Springfield, the Jacksons, the O’Jays, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Jerry Butler, Archie Bell and the Drells, the Three Degrees, Joe Simon, MFSB, Billy Paul, the Soul Survivors, Teddy Pendergrass, the Intruders, Lou Rawls, People’s Choice and the Jones Girls.
Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party celebrates African American Music Appreciation Month with twenty dance floor packers, kicking off with a few of Gamble and Huff’s gems.
Today is Amelia Earhart’s birthday. She was born on July 24, 1897, and for all we know she is celebrating her 118th birthday with a glass of Chardonnay and a cannoli.
During a 1937 attempt to fly around the world, aviator Earhart disappeared over the Pacific Ocean. Women. Am I right, fellas? Of course not.
Earhart went off the grid before “going off the grid” became part of our everyday vernacular. Maybe not everyday, but our at-least-twice-a-year vernacular.
Sometimes I contemplate going off the grid, but it seems the rewards of doing so are not worth the efforts.
This would have been a good week for me to be off the grid. It started out good. Sunday morning was the fourth and final day of an entrepreneur conference I attended whereat I got educated and motivated and met many cool people with inspiring stories. On my way home I got into a car accident. I’m fortunate I came out unscathed. My car? Not so much.
When I arrived at home I called my insurance company, then set about to make some lunch. I put my food in the microwave and set it on high for six minutes. When the machine beeped the food was still frozen. I know I’m fortunate in that I had a microwave that served me for 17 years, but did it have to die at that moment?
My car got towed to a body shop. They emailed me forms to sign and return. I couldn’t print them, however, as it turns out my printer and microwave were having an affair and the printer decided she could not go on without the microwave in her life. Women. Am I right, fellas?
Feeling a bit depressed about the turn my week/life had taken, I found it difficult to focus on the tasks at hand. Then I saw a videoclip of a colorblind young man who, thanks to new technology, experienced vibrant colors for the first time. His joy in seeing a patch of grass or a container of Clorox put things in perspective.
There is so much beauty in the mundane, and so much that I take for granted for which I should be grateful. My toaster oven, for example.
I have a music consulting business. I love my clients. I love that I can choose with whom I wish to work. I love the projects I’m handling.
I think I’ll stay on the grid for a while.
Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. Kicking off this week’s playlist is Stephanie Mills with “Pilot Error.”
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Every April, to coincide with Tax Day, my former Sony colleague Rich Appel creates the IRS countdown. In this case, IRS stands for It Really Shoulda, as in It Really Shoulda been a top ten hit. People vote for songs that they feel should have but didn’t make the top ten of Billboard’s Hot 100. Rich collates all of the entries and comes out with the Top 100 IRS songs.
Today is my birthday. Usually on birthdays, Tunes du Jour creates a playlist around the music of the birthday boy or girl. As Friday is dance day in these parts, I decided I would take inspiration from Rich’s IRS countdown and present to you a playlist of songs that I love to dance to that didn’t crack the pop top ten. Here are fifty such IRS tracks. (Actually, fifty-one, not because that’s how old I am but because the Diana Ross entry is two songs.) It’s my birthday and I need to dance!