The Sound of Philadelphia

Gamble and Huff were inducted into the Rock and Roll of Fame in 2008, three years after their biggest stars, the O’Jays.

Gamble & Huff, with former PIR artist Patti Labelle
Gamble & Huff, with former PIR artist Patti Labelle

That soulful dude Arthur from down south (hemisphere) asked me: “Are you planning a post on the end of Philadelphia International Records “The Sound of Philadelphia” (TSOP)? I’d be really curious to hear your take.” I hadn’t heard the news. As you may know, I do take requests, and any excuse to fill a post with music links is welcome.

Even before the official Philadelphia International Records label, you had the songwriting/production team of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, who produced one of the very few singles I actually bought in the 1960s, Expressway To Your Heart by the Soul Survivors, a US Top 4 hit in 1967. I love songs that lived on the bottom.

I just recently played that classic album Gonna Take A Miracle by Laura Nyro, with Labelle, and never knew that this was a Gamble-Huff production, prior to their PIR days. LISTEN to the title track.

It’s possible that I didn’t notice Gamble-Huff on records as songwriters until The Pointer Sisters’ Love In Them There Hills [LISTEN] in 1974.

It took me a while to recognize TSOP as a “sound.” I was familiar with Motown, whose move west in 1972 seemed to correspond with its lesser output, at least to my ears. Stax Records, out of Memphis, was in commercial decline around that same time. Philadelphia International filled that “soul” gap.

In fact, as it turns out when I hooked into that sound corresponds with that very year. LISTEN to these PIR songs:
Me And Mrs Jones – Billy Paul (#1 for three weeks in 1972).
If You Don’t Know Me by Now – Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes (#3 in 1972)
When Will I See You Again – The Three Degrees (#2 in 1974)
TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)- MFSB (#1 for two weeks in 1974). This was the theme to the long-running television show Soul Train.
Enjoy Yourself – The Jacksons (#6 in 1977). This was the first hit after Michael and his brothers left Motown.

Still, in spite of a great roster of musicians, I most closely associate the O’Jays with the sound of Philadelphia. LISTEN TO:
Back Stabbers (#3 in 1972)
Love Train (#1 in 1973)
For the Love of Money (#9 in 1974)
I Love Music (#5 in 1976)

Gamble and Huff were inducted into the Rock and Roll of Fame in 2008, three years after their biggest stars, the O’Jays.

February Rambling: Military Draft, Muppets and Graceland

“’Soul Train’ was the first and only television show to showcase and put a spotlight on black artists at a time when there were few African-Americans on television at all, and that was the great vision of Don.”


When I mentioned the military draft earlier in the month, I may not have been very clear. Think of a large goldfish bowl with 365 or 366 balls with every date for the year represented. The first date for a particular year pulled would be the first selected for military service, the second date pulled the second selected, etc. There would be a cutoff number, based on the need for the war effort. Check out this article and then this one.

The food stamp President; note that Arthur had this BEFORE helped propel it viral. He also remembers the first anniversary of the Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake, the 50th anniversary of John Glenn’s flight aboard Friendship 7, and the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens.

Rosa Parks Did Much More than Sit on a Bus

The Stories I Tell: “Like most of us I was raised to tell the truth and be honest. This can present a minor dilemma for resellers.”

How a mom used Star Wars to answer life’s questions

Marvel/Disney wages petty, vicious war against Ghost Rider creator. Yeah, there are two sides to this story, but Disney’s treatment of writer Gary Friedrich is still most unfortunate. Here’s a more nuanced piece that links to a donate to Gary site. Incidentally, in the comments to the former piece, someone was complaining that Friedrich was selling the art of Mike Ploog, penciler of Ghost Rider. I don’t know about the specifics of this case, but as former Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter explained here and here, art pages, which previous to the 1970s were rarely returned at all by comic book companies, were distributed to various participants of the story; this included the writer, though they usually got last dibs. Shooter does explain Marvel’s likely point of view, and here’s a Marvel rebuttal.

I swear I had the same problem as Mitch O’Connell.

I read in Entertainment Weekly about this website that has the feature If 2012’s Oscar-nominated movie posters told the truth. This one riffing on The Help is funny, but so are several others.

I was saddened by the death of “Soul Train” host Don Cornelius of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. From the LA Times: “Don Cornelius’ legacy to music, especially black music, will be forever cemented in history,” said Clarence Avant, former chairman of Motown Records. “’Soul Train’ was the first and only television show to showcase and put a spotlight on black artists at a time when there were few African-Americans on television at all, and that was the great vision of Don.”
But I also remember tuning in when unlikely guests would show up, such as David Bowie performing Fame and Golden Years.

Read about comic book legend John Severin, who died at the age of 90, here and here and here.

The Wicker Muppet and A Muppet phenomenon and REALLY early Muppets.

The film trailer for “Under African Skies,” “the documentary from award-winning filmmaker Joe Berlinger. Paul Simon travels back to South Africa 25 years after his first visit, chronicling the creation and lasting influence of his groundbreaking album, Graceland. Simon revisits the making of the record, surveying from the vantage of history the turbulence and controversy surrounding the album’s genesis.”

HOW TO mix a grody-looking Alien Brain Hemorrhage cocktail

Interestingly, on most of these, I don’t get many comments. But I DO get an occasional LIKE on Facebook or retweet on Twitter, so it’s all good. Oh, and speaking of Facebook, I now have but one Facebook account. So if you want to “friend” me, it needs to be this account, the one with the duck logo.

Obviously, we’re still working on that “change the world” thing – also noting Graham Nash’s 70th birthday.


Secrets of the public bathroom

Caring about Multiple Things Simultaneously, which is less about Whitney Houston, and more about people who think other folks shouldn’t care about Whitney Houston’s death

Alan Moore’s Twilight Proposal. Flashmob Fridays’ final outing.

Even a Megaphone Might Have Helped: Albany’s Black History Month bit

Scott Ritter is…complicated

In the spirit of Woody Guthrie. Well, maybe funnier.

The City of Albany didn’t even know the sign was missing until someone – OK, I – pointed it out.

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