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Oldies Music Encyclopedia: "Philly Soul"


Oldies Music Encyclopedia:

The O'Jays' original 45 of "Love Train"

Definition: Like Motown and Stax-Volt, the style known as "Philly Soul" was born largely of one label, in this case the city's own Philadelphia International Records, headed by the songwriting and production team of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff. The duo first struck gold in the late Sixties on Atlantic, creating such classics as The Soul Survivors' "Expressway To Your Heart," The Intruders' "Cowboys To Girls," and Jerry Butler's "Only The Strong Survive." Their signature sound -- sweet pop-soul with a funky but simple backbeat, laden with strings and horns and the occasional sitar-like guitar -- struck a chord with R&B fans who wanted something less abrasive than pure funk, and their successes led them to found their own label in 1971.

The label picked up its first hit that year with a creation of Philadelphia International's other great production/songwriting team, Gene McFadden and John Whitehead: The O'Jays breakthrough hit, "Back Stabbers." But the next single by the group, "Love Train," bore the Gamble and Huff stamp and defined the new genre perfectly. Thom Bell, another producer at the label, helped create the ballad sound of Philly Soul with the Delfonics' late-Sixties hits, and would later move to other labels and oversee big hits in the style with the Stylistics and the Spinners.

The rest of the decade's R&B was ruled in part by Philly Soul, as even artists not associated with the genre capitalized on the sound's popularity with smashes like Hall and Oates' "Sara Smile," Lou Rawls' "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine," and Elton John's ode to the sound, "Philadelphia Freedom." Ironically, Philly Soul's lush romanticism and simple funk gave birth to the rise of disco later in the decade, a genre which would eventually supplant it, though the genre's stars merely adapted slightly to stay popular.

Also Known As: Philadelphia Soul, Seventies R&B, Philadelphia International, Disco
  1. "The Love I Lost," Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes
  2. "Love Train," The O'Jays
  3. "T.S.O.P. (The Sound of Philadelphia)," MFSB
  4. "When Will I See You Again," The Three Degrees
  5. "Could It Be I'm Falling In Love," The Spinners
  6. "Break Up To Make Up," The Stylistics
  7. "Hey There Lonely Girl," Eddie Holman
  8. "Sideshow," Blue Magic
  9. "I'll Always Love My Mama," The Intruders
  10. "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)," The Delfonics
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  5. Philly Soul
  6. Philly Soul - What is Philly Soul? - Oldies Songs and Artists

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