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  1. #1

    Rhodes, Chalmers and Rhodes

    I know that this is not Motown related per se, but since Motown released some of Al Green's material on CD, I hope this post gets a pass.

    The background vocal done by Rhodes, Chalmers and Rhodes were, in my opinion, absolutely fantastic. For the longest time, I assumed they were black. I was taken by surprise that they are, indeed, white.

    I'd like to see a piece done about them.

  2. #2
    Gary, I, too, am a fan of Rhodes, Chalmers, & Rhodes. I've loved the back-up harmonies of that trio since discovering Willie Mitchell's productions back in the mid-'70s. Like Phil Spector's Blossoms and Motown's Andantes, Rhodes, Chalmers & Rhodes sang back-up on not only Al Green's recordings, but on several (if not all) of the HI Records roster of artists produced by Willie Mitchell including Syl Johnson, Ann Peebles, O.V. Wright, etc. Like you, I'm super-surprised -- almost shocked, in fact! -- to learn that they're white. You sure could have fooled me! I've included a photo of them below. I hope it works.

    https://images.app.goo.gl/J8SUrRsmF4GB6kao8

  3. #3
    And here's some Rhodes-Chalmers-Rhodes bio info. contained within the photo link above.

    http://www.sirshambling.com/articles...odes/index.php

  4. #4
    Interesting stuff. They released an album of their own in 1980, Scandal.

    https://www.discogs.com/artist/51861...halmers-Rhodes

  5. #5
    Yeah, they did, Tom. I listened to the "Scandal" track on YouTube. You would never know it was the same group at all. (White Pop/Rock) I guess R-C-R needed Willie Mitchell's Memphis-soul HI productions to give them their signature sound that we've known and loved.

  6. #6
    they also backed Mary Wells on her Reprise single "I Found What I Wanted"bw"I See A Future In You" produced by Rick Hall & Sonny Limbo in Muscle Shoals early 70's.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by motony View Post
    they also backed Mary Wells on her Reprise single "I Found What I Wanted"bw"I See A Future In You" produced by Rick Hall & Sonny Limbo in Muscle Shoals early 70's.
    Thanks for the information, motony. I wasn't aware that Mary Wells had recorded anything on Reprise, let alone this single co-produced by Rick Hall at Fame studio. Thanks to YouTube, I see the label copy says that Charles Chalmers did the String and Vocal arrangements. As always, Rhodes-Chalmers-Rhodes' back-up vocals are sweet and soulful as ever on both sides of the record. I wonder if the single ever came out on CD, most likely on a various artists-type sampler, if ever.

  8. #8
    This is what Soulful Detroit is all about. I remember the names on the back of Al Green albums, but never realised they had such an interesting back story. We learn all the time. Thanks for this thread

  9. #9
    Thanks for all of the responses. What a joy this website can be! Such a wealth of information.

  10. #10
    Like a lot of African American women in the 1970s, my mother was a HUGE fan of Al Gsreen. I remember that she went to see him at the Latin Casino in Cherry Hill, NJ. I also remember the hens gathering at our house to listen to his albums. Ahhh, the memories!

  11. #11
    The attached article tells how Charles Chalmers got started playing sax with Willie Mitchell, and how Willie Mitchell got Charles started with Rhodes Chalmers Rhodes as permanent back-up singers for HI Records. Even more surprising is how Charles' talent afforded him the opportunity of working with Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd -- playing sax and writing the musical arrangements for Aretha's biggest early hits at Fame studio for Atlantic Records. What an all-around talented guy Charles is!

    http://www.charliechalmers.com/bio.htm

  12. #12
    very interesting.I would love to hear the other 2 songs that Mary Wells recorded there at Muscle Shoals.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by motony View Post
    very interesting.I would love to hear the other 2 songs that Mary Wells recorded re there at Muscle Shoals.
    Here you are, motony.

    MARY WELLS (Reprise Records):

    I Found What I Wanted
    https://youtu.be/ULSCpB3LlI0

    I See A Future In You
    https://youtu.be/95UcOkjwuqM

  14. #14
    Here is a photo of Charlie Chalmers playing sax at an Etta James recording session for which he did the horn arrangements, followed by an interview discussing what it was like working with Jerry Wexler, Rick Hall, Willie Mitchell, Etta James, Aretha, Wilson Picket, etc. Very interesting and informative.

    https://www.al.com/life/2019/04/the-...etha-hits.html

  15. #15
    yea, I have my original 45 of "I Found What I Wanted" but she recorded 2 other songs at those same sessions but she couldn't remember their titles.

  16. #16
    Love the Al Green sound. Was a dedicated fan as soon as I first heard it on TIRED OF BEING ALONE. This is new information about it for me. Good stuff.

  17. #17
    Me, too, Boogie. Back in the day, that's what inspired me to check out some of the other HI Records artists like Syl Johnson, Ann Peebles, and O.V. Wright. As it turned out, I love all of them. They've all got the same Willie Mitchell "sound". If you like Al Green's sound, you'll like the others. Their lead vocalists could have been pretty much interchangeable with each other's albums (same producer, same musicians, all with Rhodes-Chalmers-Rhodes on back-up vocals) just like Philles artists were interchangeable, as were Motown's, '70s Philly Soul, or any other specialized "sound". To me, that's a good thing, not a detriment. Here are some examples:

    SYL JOHNSON - "We Did It"
    https://youtu.be/5cPY77fJTEk

    SYL JOHNSON - "I'm Yours"
    https://youtu.be/gPw-7-0P3RQ

    SYL JOHNSON - "Back For A Taste Of Your Love"
    https://youtu.be/X6gSqGrf7SQ

    O.V. WRIGHT - "Trying To Live My Life"
    https://youtu.be/WkmiokUIXFw

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by motony View Post
    yea, I have my original 45 of "I Found What I Wanted" but she recorded 2 other songs at those same sessions but she couldn't remember their titles.
    Here they are, motony:

    MARY WELLS (Reprise):

    "If You Can't Give Her Love (Give Her Up)"
    https://youtu.be/czrlaOaGw4Q

    "Cancel My Subscription"
    https://youtu.be/D8_CY7zowd0

    NOTE: Some copies of "If you Can't Give Her Love (Give Her Up)" were released with "Don't Keep Me Hanging On" as the B-side. Unfortunately, no one has uploaded "Don't Keep Me Hanging On" to YouTube.
    Last edited by Philles/Motown Gary; 05-25-2019 at 10:34 AM.

  19. #19
    Oh, those were done a few years later, Produced by Bobby Womack in LA. The other 2 tracks I was talking about were done in Muscle Shoals, Produced by Rick Hall & Sonny Limbo with Rhoades, Chalmers & Rhoades on BG.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by motony View Post
    Oh, those were done a few years later, Produced by Bobby Womack in LA. The other 2 tracks I was talking about were done in Muscle Shoals, Produced by Rick Hall & Sonny Limbo with Rhoades, Chalmers & Rhoades on BG.
    When I Googled Mary Wells on Reprise, the two singles I listed (one produced by Rick Hall and the other by Bobby Womack), that was all that came up. Maybe Mary was recalling tracks that she recorded which remained in the vaults, unreleased?

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Philles/Motown Gary View Post
    Me, too, Boogie. Back in the day, that's what inspired me to check out some of the other HI Records artists like Syl Johnson, Ann Peebles, and O.V. Wright. As it turned out, I love all of them. They've all got the same Willie Mitchell "sound". If you like Al Green's sound, you'll like the others. Their lead vocalists could have been pretty much interchangeable with each other's albums (same producer, same musicians, all with Rhodes-Chalmers-Rhodes on back-up vocals) just like Philles artists were interchangeable, as were Motown's, '70s Philly Soul, or any other specialized "sound". To me, that's a good thing, not a detriment. Here are some examples:

    SYL JOHNSON - "We Did It"
    https://youtu.be/5cPY77fJTEk

    SYL JOHNSON - "I'm Yours"
    https://youtu.be/gPw-7-0P3RQ

    SYL JOHNSON - "Back For A Taste Of Your Love"
    https://youtu.be/X6gSqGrf7SQ

    O.V. WRIGHT - "Trying To Live My Life"
    https://youtu.be/WkmiokUIXFw
    Very interesting , listening to those Syl Johnson tracks. Vocally, I'd call him sort of a poor man's Al Green.

    Looks like Al Green was already at Hi and working with Willie M. when Syl came on board in the early seventies. I wonder what Al thought of that , and if the two were friends or rivals?
    Al Green definitely had the advantage of being ten years younger with all that goes with it.

    Green is one of the few artists I pursued each new release of. I even bought the retro BACK UP TRAIN LP recorded before his HI times when it came out.


    from it:


  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    Very interesting , listening to those Syl Johnson tracks. Vocally, I'd call him sort of a poor man's Al Green.

    Looks like Al Green was already at Hi and working with Willie M. when Syl came on board in the early seventies. I wonder what Al thought of that , and if the two were friends or rivals?
    Al Green definitely had the advantage of being ten years younger with all that goes with it.

    Green is one of the few artists I pursued each new release of. I even bought the retro BACK UP TRAIN LP recorded before his HI times when it came out.


    from it:

    A "poor man's Al Green"!!! That's funny! Now I'm gonna think of that every time I play Syl Johnson! LOL!!! I have no idea what the relationship was like between Al Green and Syl Johnson. The only thing I've read between the two is that Al Green wrote the HI recording "Take Me To The River", but Syl Johnson had the hit with it. Seems to me that both guys made royalties on that record (Al as songwriter and Syl's performance), and both would be grateful to each other. In reality, however, that may or may not have been the case. One thing is for sure -- Al Green was 'king of the hill' at HI Records. I remember his massive popularity well at the time. He could do no wrong on the charts, and the quality of his albums was consistently high from LP to LP. (Like you, I bought each and every one of them -- up through and including "The Belle Album".) That's what made me check out Syl Johnson and Ann Peebles, as I couldn't get enough of Willie Mitchell's sound. I even like the pre-Hi recording you provided for "Guilty". It actually sounds like it could have been an early Hi recording before Willie perfected his sound. I just may have to seek out that CD, if it's still available.

    Here's a quick comparison of Al Green's version of "Take Me To The River" and Syl Johnson's, of which I love both equally:

    AL GREEN's:
    https://youtu.be/9FBUgdhxe9M

    SYL JOHNSON's:
    https://youtu.be/jF-VGjAwh9E

  23. #23
    Hi!

    From my Syl Johnson story:

    Syl: "I made a mistake of going to Hi (in late '71). All attention was on Al Green. When I had my first press party, I went to New York. 'Take Me to the River' was a big hit, and I thought I had a press party. Next thing I know, Willie Mitchell comes over 'say, can you boys play Al's songs.' I asked why. 'Al's on the show tonight.' And it was my press party! That's why I made a mistake. I should have gone to Atlantic, but that's too late now. If Willie Mitchell was good, why didn't he produce a big hit on me. It was like a lousy set-up."

    https://www.soulexpress.net/syljohnson_discography.htm

    Best regards
    Heikki

  24. #24
    Thanks for sharing that, Heikki! I sure wasn't expecting to hear that. You wouldn't expect to be double-crossed and humiliated by your own record producer. It surely must have been hard for Syl to work with Willie again after that slap in the face.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Philles/Motown Gary View Post
    A "poor man's Al Green"!!! That's funny! Now I'm gonna think of that every time I play Syl Johnson! LOL!!! I have no idea what the relationship was like between Al Green and Syl Johnson. The only thing I've read between the two is that Al Green wrote the HI recording "Take Me To The River", but Syl Johnson had the hit with it. Seems to me that both guys made royalties on that record (Al as songwriter and Syl's performance), and both would be grateful to each other. In reality, however, that may or may not have been the case. One thing is for sure -- Al Green was 'king of the hill' at HI Records. I remember his massive popularity well at the time. He could do no wrong on the charts, and the quality of his albums was consistently high from LP to LP. (Like you, I bought each and every one of them -- up through and including "The Belle Album".) That's what made me check out Syl Johnson and Ann Peebles, as I couldn't get enough of Willie Mitchell's sound. I even like the pre-Hi recording you provided for "Guilty". It actually sounds like it could have been an early Hi recording before Willie perfected his sound. I just may have to seek out that CD, if it's still available.

    Here's a quick comparison of Al Green's version of "Take Me To The River" and Syl Johnson's, of which I love both equally:

    AL GREEN's:
    https://youtu.be/9FBUgdhxe9M

    SYL JOHNSON's:
    https://youtu.be/jF-VGjAwh9E

    Ha! Ha! Gary! Glad you are amused. I'll explain my poor man's comparison.

    When I worked in a record store in San Francisco in the early eighties, free tickets to events often came my way. When Sheena Easton's tour passed through SF , (at the Orpheum Theatre on Market St.?) , I went with a co-worker and her husband . When it was over , and we were discussing the night , Gloria called Sheena "a poor man's Barbra Streisand" . I was struck by it , and have ever since gauged some artists against others in that way . lol!

    Immediately ,the stand out difference of the two TAKE ME TO THE RIVERs is the harmonica on Syl's version of which his playing is apparently a big part of his stage persona.
    That version's intro reminded me of MISS YOU by The Rolling Stones , so I looked it up to see if that was Syl Johnson playing on it . (no)

    For me , each of Al Green's single releases topped the one before it , until his sound culminated to its peak in the uplifting "YOU OUGHT TO BE WITH ME". ( the later "L-O-V-E" though has proved itself a perennial favorite for me). Album cut faves include HOW CAN YOU MEND ... and FOR THE GOOD TIMES . How about you Gary?

    I had the good fortune at the age of sixteen to first see Al Green in concert in 1971 and in.... Detroit!! and it was quite a memorable experience . I'll have to share the details here sometime.

    Of my favorite concerts , that one comes to mind, that and the Ohio Players when at their peak, Donna Summer in the 70's, and ....and in the late eighties, ...Barry Manilow!!!! lol!!
    Last edited by Boogiedown; 06-02-2019 at 04:06 PM.

  26. #26
    Boogie, your "Poor Man's" theory has caused me to compare more artists than I care to admit to here! To avoid offending anyone, I think it's safest if I keep the results to myself! HaHa!!!

    Yeah, Syl Johnson's "Take Me To The River" contains a harmonica, while Al Green's has strings in the intro as well as in the bridge of the song. Other than Al's spoken intro, both versions are pretty much the same backing track. (I sure love Charlie Chalmer's horn arrangements! They're stellar!)

    I agree, I love all of Al Green's singles. He also had an array of super album tracks. Since you asked, my favorites, in addition to the ones you've already listed above, are: I Can't Get Next To You, Love And Happiness, The City, ONE-NIGHT STAND (my all-time favorite), I'm Hooked On You, Let's Get Married, That's The Way It Is, Keep Me Cryin', Smile A Little Bit More, I Tried To Tell Myself, and The Truth Marches on. I wasn't crazy about "The Belle Album". For me, the appeal of Al's albums, as well as Syl Johnson's and Ann Peebles', was the sound of Willie Mitchell's productions. Without that element, "The Belle Album" didn't cut it for me. How about you, Boogie? Did you like it?

    For the benefit of those who may not be familiar with Al Green's "One-Night Stand", I rate it as my favorite because it's the perfect combination of Willie Mitchell's production, Al Green's lead vocals, Rhodes-Chalmers-Rhodes' back-up vocals, and those Memphis horns! Everybody involved was cookin' in high gear. Here's why:

    AL GREEN - "One-Night Stand"
    https://youtu.be/rYXayKgMVl8

    Living in Detroit in 1971, as you were, I can easily imagine you being in the center hub of everything musical -- especially Motown, for at least another year before their exit to California. October '71 was when I was given a tour of Motown's Donovan Building. Just as 1960's Phil Spector and Motown had made an incredible impact on my life, Hi Records' 1970's Memphis Sound and '70s Philly Soul made an equally gigantic impact on me. Musically speaking, it was an exciting time to be alive! The 1973-1982 Disco era was equally thrilling for me -- at least the American disco productions of which most of the best were Black. The Euro-Disco white-artist productions not so much, although they were widely revered by some disco fans.

    Even Barry Manilow, eh?!!! Don't feel bad -- I have my own favorite middle-of-the-road artists as well, like Karen Carpenter and Anne Murray. Heck, I even love Billy Vaughn & His Orchestra!
    I have all 50+ of his Dot albums on CD. When I admit that, people younger than me usually cringe! But that's alright. I seriously couldn't get enough of his twin-sax sound, as on his biggest '50s hit "Sail Along Silvery Moon". To each his own!
    Last edited by Philles/Motown Gary; 06-02-2019 at 07:41 PM.

  27. #27
    Hi Gary. yes , I agree ONE NIGHT STAND incorporates well all the needed ingredients of the Mitchell sound. Thanks for mentioning The City, I'm enjoying it a lot , think it might've worked as a single , if Al were willing to depart from his ongoing romantic themes. What's glaringly missing from THE CITY though , is the title of this thread ...those back up singers! Time for another round of listening to LOVE AND HAPPINESS too.
    I agree that THE BELLE ALBUM was weak and revealed the importance of Willie Mitchell, just not the same without him, and that was the end of a great run.
    I do remember hearing I FEEL GOOD at one of the bigger discos in SF at the time and it was satisfying to know his sound was being welcomed there.

    We parallel a lot it seems in our musical journey Gary. I never distinguished at the time that the Philly sound was so largely responsible for the music that was dominating the club scene . I knew the Ojays and Harold Melvin, Lou Rawls etc.... they were PI, but not Salsoul and The Trammps and John Davis and on and on. I just was enjoying the music and hadn't taken the time to connect the dots.
    One of the things I most treasure about the disco era , was its color blindness . It just didn't matter what color the producers of the music were --- Patrick Adams , Warren Schatz, Hal Davis, Rinder and Lewis ... all just anonymous names behind the music. Same with the performers, many remained faceless even on the album covers.

    Just as it's so interesting to now learn that R C and R , the voices backing Al Green were white. Who knew? Who cared ? Who gave it a thought? I think it's a good thing though , because it just proves the point of ....who cares.

    My taste in music is pretty vast, that's why Top 40 worked so well for me, the diversity of it. Sad that's gone . I'm not apologetic about any of , I liked Barry Manilow's stuff pretty consistently. I had to mention him when it comes to concerts though because his really stood out. I've attended many concerts. What made this one of Barry's special was that it was an outside show at a fair grounds hardly the Barry Manilow image one might have as a setting for him. This was at a point in his career where he couldn't yet claim legendary status and just hang out in Vegas. He was doing less than choice gigs. SO it was a hot summer day at the fair, and they had a huge fan blowing for him. Barry performed as if he was having the time of his life , lots of banter and spontaneity . At one point he could hear another performer on one of the lesser stages. he asked the crowd "who is that?" Jack Johnson!!! "Hey ,Jack Johnson !, " Manilow shouts into his microphone , "Shut UP !!" lol!
    Then at another point he centered himself in front of the giant fan that was blowing for him, undid his vest and let it blow like short wings in the wind. He went with the flow and that's what made it entertaining . Too many of the concerts I've seen are over rehearsed and the performance delivered is for anywhere - any city.

    The Carpenters are top tier in my book . John Denver. Billy Vaughn though, I know nothing of , I will check him out !! (where do I start?)
    Last edited by Boogiedown; 06-06-2019 at 06:08 PM.

  28. #28
    Hi John! Sorry my reply is so late. I, too, have always wondered why Rhodes-Chalmers-Rhodes were conspicuously missing from Al Green's "The City". But, I've gotta admit, the song is really different for Al, and it's really quite perfect as it is. I'm no music arranger, believe me, but I honestly can't think of any ooh's or aah's that could have improved it. That may very well be the reason why R-C-R aren't on there.

    LOVE AND HAPPINESS - God, I've loved that song from the first time I heard it! It was so unique at the time, and still is! R-C-R shine on it!

    I agree, John. Our musical tastes are very much the same.

    I know what you mean about Philly Soul! As it turned out, TSOP was all over the place from 1973 through the late '70s! And, like you said, it wasn't just Philadelphia International Records and Salsoul Records. Unlike 1960s Motown, where only Motown artists recorded at Hitsville, ANY 1970's record company could send their artists to Sigma Sound Studio in Philly to reap the benefits of the increasingly-popular "Sound Of Philadelphia" utilizing MFSB, the Philly producers, and the angelic back-up vocals of the Sweethearts Of Sigma (Barbara Ingram, Carla Benson, & Evette Benton). Atlantic Records sent The Spinners, Sister Sledge, Sons Of Robin Stone, Major Harris, Ben E. King, and others; Warner Brothers sent Dionne Warwick; Columbia sent Johnny Mathis, Ronnie Dyson, and Denise Williams; Roulette sent Ecstasy, Passion & Pain; and on and on and on. Motown even sent Eddie Kendricks and also The Temptations. Nearly all reaped beautiful artistic results. Philly Soul seemed to fit the style of any and all artists like a custom-fit glove.

    I was lucky in that I quickly learned what records and which artists were Philly Soul just by skimming over the credits on the back album covers in the record stores. Any time I saw "Background Vocals: The Sweethearts Of Sigma", it was a dead give-away that it was TSOP.
    And that record immediately went home with me! Another credit on the back LP cover was "A Tom Moulton Mix". Any time you saw this, you knew the record was gonna be hot. He remixed a HUGE number of PIR tracks as well as several Philly Soul recordings for Atlantic/Atco Records. Musically speaking, it was an exciting time to be alive. I consider myself lucky to have grown up during the Philles, Motown, Memphis/Southern Soul, and Philly Soul eras.

    I agree, John. I don't care whether the artist is black, white, Latino, or Native American. As long as their music is good, that's all that matters to me.

    I'm not really surprised that Barry Manilow was so down-to-earth and cool. He got his start at the gay baths in NYC along with Bette Midler. Lotsa camp and loads of fun!

    Billy Vaughn. If you promise you won't laugh, you can start here with a quick sample of his twin-sax sound:

    https://youtu.be/upbcSPpelzg

  29. #29
    Hi Gary!
    Billy Vaughn, don't know why I was expecting a vocalist, and maybe he does sing some , but it appears his forte was orchestral. I like what I heard from your link! I'm now vaguely familiar with him . Will listen more. I've never shied away from Percy Faith , Henry Mancini etc. and I am not above an occasional listen to Mantovani or Ferranti and Tiecher ( but I kind of draw the line at Lawrence Welk or Liberace.)--- I've lately decided my all time favorite song is MOON RIVER , instrumentally by Henry Mancini, but preferably as sung by Andy Williams.
    And I like real instruments , the more the better , which is why Motown and Philly appeal so much to me. Whenever I hear that a song is 'overproduced' , I get interested .lol!

    As for TSOP, what a massive amount of output for such a short period. Those were truly dedicated musicians who loved their craft and practically worked around the clock it seems. I wonder why The Sweethearts never got their own session/project?

    My experience of the throbbing groove of I LOVE MUSIC thumping off the walls of Hollywood's Studio One above a packed dancefloor can never be topped. A great era indeed.
    What are your favorite PI releases Gary?
    Do you include Richie Rome as PI?

    And yes, Tom Moulton cannot be given enough credit for the direction some music took around '73-'74 that then came to be known as 'disco'. He had his finger on the pulse of a movement.

    Hey , btw, I never lived in Detroit. My family, while on summer vacation in '71 , was driving through there when we saw Al Green's name on the marque. Believe it or not, my parents had no reservations about dropping their two teenaged sons off that night to attend , while they went bar hopping . LOL!
    Last edited by Boogiedown; 06-20-2019 at 02:40 AM.

  30. #30
    Hi John! Billy Vaughn never sings, although he used to sing with his group The Hilltoppers. His records are always instrumental, with maybe some occasional back-up singers. (NOTE: Avoid albums by the Billy Vaughn Singers. The ones I heard sounded nothing like Billy's albums at all!) Billy has 4 basic styles: 1950's/'60s Pop orchestral with the Twin-Saxes (my favorite); 1950's/'60s Pop orchestral w/o the twin saxes; Big Band jazz orchestral; and Ferrante & Teicher-type orchestral with piano & strings. Some of his 50+ albums are thematic using only one of the styles listed above, while his other albums include a variety of all of his above styles. I love them all. My personal favorites are his albums from 1958-1964. His late '60s LPs which had strange-looking psychedelic white girls on the cover were not as good, in my opinion. BTW, Billy Vaughn does a beautiful rendition of your favorite "Moon River" from his "Chapel By The Sea" album:

    https://youtu.be/n3R9Zyw3E7I

    And, as a bonus for your musical pleasure, one of my faves from the same CD:

    https://youtu.be/7X4pGmxWznI

    I, too, love Ferrante & Teicher. Their piano and strings are gorgeous, especially "Theme From The Apartment" and "Exodus", as are Mantovani's. Lawrence Welk and Liberace? Never! HaHa!

    Real instruments! You and me both! I don't mind an occasional synthesized instrument along with a real orchestra, but when the music is nothing but synthesizers, I cringe.

    You're so right, John. 1960's and, for the most part, '70s Motown were real instruments, as was 70's Philly Soul. ('80s Motown was, sadly, way over-synthesized for my personal taste. Cringe-worthy, in fact!)

    The Sweethearts Of Sigma did indeed have an album of their own, although not under their own name. It was under the name Metropolis titled "The Greatest Show On Earth" on the Salsoul label, and it was pure Philly Soul with the accent on Disco. I bought the LP upon its release in 1978, and I got my CD copy back in 2007. The track the clubs were all playing was "I Love New York", but my favorite track was the title track, "The Greatest Show On Earth":

    https://youtu.be/y0FFyeVHQM4

    John, this is getting pretty long. I'm gonna reply to the rest of your posting in a separate post.

  31. #31
    Hey John! (PART 2)

    The Sweethearts Of Sigma were also heavily featured on The Salsoul Orchestra's "Up The Yellow Brick Road" album, and, of course, their "Christmas Jollies" album. It would have been perfectly appropriate had Salsoul credited those albums to The Sweethearts rather than The Salsoul Orchestra.

    Yeah, the bass on The O'Jays "I Love Music" was HOT! The sound systems in the discos couldn't be beat! They pumped the bass right through you and kept you hooked!

    I consider any recordings made at Sigma Sound to be Philly Soul whether they were on Philly Intl., Salsoul, or any of the other many labels who sent their artists there to record. My favorites? God, John, that's like asking me which Motown albums are my favorite! I suppose I have a real soft spot in my heart for the early-to-mid 70s Philly releases by The Spinners, The Stylistics, The Three Degrees, Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes, The O'Jays, Johnny Mathis, Ronnie Dyson, Dionne Warwick, Blue Magic, Bunny Sigler, Sister Sledge, Sons Of Robin Stone, Jean Carn, The Jones Girls, Ecstasy, Passion & Pain, First Choice, Loleatta Holloway, Eddie Holman, MFSB, etc. TSOP was so new and fresh-sounding -- even the uptempo songs with sad lyrics were bright, bouncy, and uplifting. They made you feel good with a super-WOW factor! Like Phil Spector (Philles) and Motown, I specialize in Philly Soul as far as what I have in my CD collection. Every time I think I have it all, another new Philly Soul group (new to me) will show up, and, of course, I've gotta have it. I'm so afraid I'll "miss a trick", as they say, although, unfortunately, finances are to the point where I HAVE to seriously pull in the reigns on spending. And soon!

    Do I consider Richie Rome Philly Soul? I sure do. Absolutely! He recorded the Richie Family at Sigma Sound and the music proves it! I just love "Best Disco In Town" and "Life Is Music".

    Wow! You and your teenage brother saw Al Green live in Detroit in '71 while your family was passing through town on vacation? Your parents sure were trusting souls! Naturally, you and your sibling were on your very best behavior! HaHa! I'm 68 (born in '51). If you were a teenager in '71, you must be in your early-to-mid 60's now, right?

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by lockhartgary View Post
    I know that this is not Motown related per se, but since Motown released some of Al Green's material on CD, I hope this post gets a pass.

    The background vocal done by Rhodes, Chalmers and Rhodes were, in my opinion, absolutely fantastic. For the longest time, I assumed they were black. I was taken by surprise that they are, indeed, white.

    I'd like to see a piece done about them.
    Lockhart Gary and Boogiedown, I just experienced another one of those "I-Can't-Believe-They're-White" moments. (I hope you don't mind my putting it here with the Rhodes-Chalmers-Rhodes discussion, Lockhartgary. I didn't know where else to insert it.) This time it's a Philly Soul group. Ever hear of Sons of Robin Stone? Their "Got To Get You Back" is one of my favorite TSOP tracks from the Various Artists "Disco Trek" album on Atlantic which was a Tom Moulton mix. Imagine my surprise when I discovered this video a while back. I was reminded of it earlier this evening. For Sons Of Robin Stone fans, now it's your turn to be surprised!

    SONS OF ROBIN STONE
    "Got To Get You Back"

    THEN:
    https://youtu.be/Q4PhWi1_4CQ

    AND NOW:
    https://youtu.be/wVNLtxK2nSI

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Philles/Motown Gary View Post
    Lockhart Gary and Boogiedown, I just experienced another one of those "I-Can't-Believe-They're-White" moments. (I hope you don't mind my putting it here with the Rhodes-Chalmers-Rhodes discussion, Lockhartgary. I didn't know where else to insert it.) This time it's a Philly Soul group. Ever hear of Sons of Robin Stone? Their "Got To Get You Back" is one of my favorite TSOP tracks from the Various Artists "Disco Trek" album on Atlantic which was a Tom Moulton mix. Imagine my surprise when I discovered this video a while back. I was reminded of it earlier this evening. For Sons Of Robin Stone fans, now it's your turn to be surprised!

    SONS OF ROBIN STONE
    "Got To Get You Back"

    THEN:
    https://youtu.be/Q4PhWi1_4CQ

    AND NOW:
    https://youtu.be/wVNLtxK2nSI
    Wow!!

    And here is another group I would have assumed were black:


  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by lockhartgary View Post
    Wow!!

    And here is another group I would have assumed were black:

    And "wow" right back at'cha, Gar! You could have fooled me! I would have never expected that big, booming voice to come out of that white guy! The back-up guys are surprisingly good, too!

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by Philles/Motown Gary View Post
    For Sons Of Robin Stone fans, now it's your turn to be surprised!

    SONS OF ROBIN STONE
    "Got To Get You Back"

    THEN:
    https://youtu.be/Q4PhWi1_4CQ

    AND NOW:
    https://youtu.be/wVNLtxK2nSI
    Wow...I've not thought of that wonderful song and Disco Trek in years! I need to dig it out of my archives. That dawn-of-disco collection was, and is, a knockout. To me, Moulton set the standard for mixes during the intense but short-lived truly classic disco era.
    Last edited by BigAl; 07-29-2019 at 04:10 PM.

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by BigAl View Post
    Wow...I've not thought of that wonderful song and Disco Trek in years! I need to dig it out of my archives. That dawn-of-disco collection was, and is, a knockout. To me, Moulton set the standard for mixes during the intense but short-lived truly classic disco era.
    You are so right, Al! "Got To Get You Back" hit me like a ton of bricks back in '76, especially given Tom Moulton's extended-mix treatment. And it's stuck with me ever since! In fact, what a great Spring of '76 that was for Disco! So much great material coming out of Philly -- Sons Of Robin Stone, Sister Sledge' "Mama Never Told Me" (God, those sizzling strings still thrill me!), The Trammps' "Where The Happy People Go", Blue Magic, First Choice's "So Let Us Entertain You", etc., etc., etc. It was an exciting time to be alive!

  37. #37
    Yes I knew about the Sons (who is Robin Stone?) They never got an album out did they .....

    I should say I learned of them when I got a spurt of new interest in disco about twenty years ago and I got hooked on discovering all the earlier disco I'd missed by starting my clubbing at the beginning of '76.



    I really like this one but as you know Gary , I tend to focus on lyrics and this one does crack me up ... the conviction of this guy...got to get you back if it takes all night!
    Not the rest of my life , not forever , or anything approaching that . A week even ?
    Hey , I' m all in for the remainder of the night , but after that ? : Next !! !lol!
    Regardless its good solid Philly stuff !
    Last edited by Boogiedown; 08-04-2019 at 09:37 PM.

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    Yes I knew about the Sons (who is Robin Stone?) They never got an album out did they .....

    I should say I learned of them when I got a spurt of new interest in disco about twenty years ago and I got hooked on discovering all the earlier disco I'd missed by starting my clubbing at the beginning of '76.



    I really like this one but as you know Gary , I tend to focus on lyrics and this one does crack me up ... the conviction of this guy...got to get you back if it takes all night!
    Not the rest of my life , not forever , or anything approaching that . A week even ?
    Hey , I' m all in for the remainder of the night , but after that ? : Next !! !lol!
    Regardless its good solid Philly stuff !
    Right, John! The guy either has a short attention span and can't think ahead any farther than the next morning, or he's caught up in the nightly turnstile syndrome! Maybe a little of both! Boy, you really do analyze the lyrics! I would have never thought of that! But you're right . It is indeed "good, solid Philly stuff". Gotta wonder why Sons Of Robin Stone didn't put out an album. A few years back, I managed to find a few of their singles which I committed to CD. Let me provide a listen for you:

    "I'm Ready To Give Up My Love"
    https://youtu.be/nMDNrO-b-94

    "It Only Happens In The Movies"
    https://youtu.be/o7WUGYNM_II

    "Let's Do It Now"
    https://youtu.be/tum7YcMgiBs

    "Love Is Just Around The Corner"
    https://youtu.be/a7jcPc8HBJU

    Not bad, eh? In my opinion, these tracks are top-notch Philly. Their dance tracks rate right up there with "Got To Get You Back", and their ballads are Blue Magic-esque. Just 5 more tracks and they could have had an entire LP's worth. What do you think, Boogie? Sons Of Robin Stone deserved at least ONE good album, don't 'cha think?

  39. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    I should say I learned of them when I got a spurt of new interest in disco about twenty years ago and I got hooked on discovering all the earlier disco I'd missed by starting my clubbing at the beginning of '76.
    John, I'm curious -- When you started delving back into the pre-1976 disco releases to see what you had missed, what were some of your newfound discoveries?

    Also, did you get into the Ariola America label at all, like Polly Brown's "Up In A Puff Of Smoke", "You're My Number One", and "Special Delivery", or Billy Ocean's mid-70s "Love Really Hurts Without You", "L.O.D. (Love On Delivery)", "Stop (If You've Heard It All Before)" and "Red Light Spells Danger"? The Ariola America label -- at least for Polly Brown's and Billy Ocean's releases -- was a combination of Motown & Disco. I loved their "sound" and still do. In early '76, Ariola America released a Various Artists Disco album but I forget the title. It came out about the same time as Atlantic Records' "Disco Trek".

    Also, having given Meco a temporary rest(!), I've been meaning to ask you -- Do you remember the 1976 LP by the DCA EXPERIENCE titled "Bicentennial Disco" on the Private Stock label? It was produced by Meco, Tony Bongiovi, and Jay Ellis.

    And, finally, do you remember the Disco album by THE GOOD VIBRATIONS on the Millennium label? It was all disco-styled remakes of Beach Boys songs. I always loved their dance version of "Good Vibrations" and "God Only Knows".

  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Philles/Motown Gary View Post
    John, I'm curious -- When you started delving back into the pre-1976 disco releases to see what you had missed, what were some of your newfound discoveries?

    Also, did you get into the Ariola America label at all, like Polly Brown's "Up In A Puff Of Smoke", "You're My Number One", and "Special Delivery", or Billy Ocean's mid-70s "Love Really Hurts Without You", "L.O.D. (Love On Delivery)", "Stop (If You've Heard It All Before)" and "Red Light Spells Danger"? The Ariola America label -- at least for Polly Brown's and Billy Ocean's releases -- was a combination of Motown & Disco. I loved their "sound" and still do. In early '76, Ariola America released a Various Artists Disco album but I forget the title. It came out about the same time as Atlantic Records' "Disco Trek".

    Also, having given Meco a temporary rest(!), I've been meaning to ask you -- Do you remember the 1976 LP by the DCA EXPERIENCE titled "Bicentennial Disco" on the Private Stock label? It was produced by Meco, Tony Bongiovi, and Jay Ellis.

    And, finally, do you remember the Disco album by THE GOOD VIBRATIONS on the Millennium label? It was all disco-styled remakes of Beach Boys songs. I always loved their dance version of "Good Vibrations" and "God Only Knows".
    I was into disco before it was called that ( ROCK THE BOAT , THE LOVE I LOST , etc..), so I thought I was pretty in tune when it erupted in 1974, I knew all the conventional hits that crossed over. But some of the biggest club songs, I knew nothing of . So I was delighted to learn about FREE MAN , I'LL BE HOLDING ON , DREAMING A DREAM, EASE ON DOWN THE ROAD ....all #1 club songs.

    One of my favorite ( sometimes I think THE favorite) disco songs for me from 1975 is a song I never heard at the time : FOREVER CAME TODAY by The Jackson Five. When I did discover it , and fell in love with it immediately , it would be much later that I learned it was a remake . The same for Barbra Streisand's SHAKE ME WAKE ME . I liked these versions never suspecting they weren't original disco material.
    Ariola America .....yes absolutely , the entire catalogue ....Jumbo '76, Jackie Robinson, and the ones you've mentioned . I enjoyed the label in real time with such releases as The Three Degrees and Amii Stewart's KNOCK ON WOOD.
    Ah, The DCA Experience ! Brad Baker and others.
    Looks like Meco was personally at the helm on this one :



    there's never enough banjo disco I say!!!

    Yes I have the GOOD VIBRATIONS lp Gary , I'll have to listen its been years . There's this Beach Boys disco lp as well BTW:



    hey don't get me started on this !! Thanks for the trip down memory lane Gary!
    Sometime you'll have to tell me when you first knew a disco record was "disco". Was there a certain record that you remember first calling it that?
    Last edited by Boogiedown; 08-07-2019 at 02:22 AM.

  41. #41
    Hey John! I knew this conversation could be lengthy (as so many of our great conversations have been!), so I started a new, separate post for this one. I started getting into dance music the same way you did -- easing into it with records like "Rock The Boat", "Love Corporation", AWB "Pick Up The Pieces", George McCrae "Rock Your Baby", and, of course, a ton of Philly Soul -- "Good Things Don't Last Forever", "Love Train", "The Love I Lost", "Where Are All My Friends", The Three Degrees' "TSOP" and "Take Good Care Of Yourself", "Hold Back The Night" and "Where The Happy People Go"; "Armed And Extremely Dangerous", etc. And, of course, anything that Motown was releasing dance-wise. A lot of really great dance records had been coming out since '73 but that was nothing new. I had been living and loving dance records since I was a kid with Phil Spector's "Da Doo Ron Ron" by The Crystals, any given uptempo record from Motown by The Supremes, Martha & The Vandellas, The Four Tops, The Tempts, etc., etc., etc. It all "had a great beat and you could dance to it". It just didn't have a name until 1975 or '76 or so when it somehow got labeled "Disco".

    What was my first record under the guise of "Disco", you ask? Boy, that's a good question... If I had to guess, I would say probably.... Gloria Gaynor's "Never Can Say Goodbye" LP. It was really different with its long, segued, 3-track medley, and its energy-level to the max. I absolutely adored "Honey Bee", and, although I usually hated any attempt at people trying to copy Motown, I loved Gloria's version of not only "Never Can Say Goodbye" but also "Reach Out I'll Be There". If memory serves, it was our 2nd introduction to Meco, with Carol Douglas' "Doctor's Orders" having been our first just a year or so earlier And it was an impressive second-meeting with Meco! How about you, John? What was your first official "Disco Record"? Can you pin-point it?

    (Stand by for Part 2).

  42. #42
    Part 2 - John, as I was saying, I loved -- and bought -- all the same records that you did. Our tastes were pretty much identical even back then. Crown Heights Affair "Dreaming A Dream" and, especially, "Dancin' " (man, are those horns ever HOT!), Consumer Rapport's "Ease On Down The Road", Amii Stewart's "Knock On Wood, etc. And, yes, Meco's the DCA Experience! ("Banjo Disco", Ha!) I'm glad you posted the "Robert E. Lee" track, Buddy, because I'm liking it better than I had remembered. My favorite track was always the Air Force Medley containing "The Wild Blue Yonder".

    DCA EXPERIENCE:
    "Air Force Medley"
    https://youtu.be/sNLSSFu0a8I

    BTW, I owe you a big thanks. As I was listening to the "Robert E. Lee" medley, it suddenly hit me that, the YouTube upload you posted was from no scratchy record. For the first time ever, it sounded like it was from the master tape. So I checked on Amazon and, although it's not a CD, which I would have preferred, it's available as a download which I immediately purchased and burned to CD. I was beginning to think I would never have Meco's DCA Experience album on anything better than the vinyl-to-CD transfer I had made years ago. Now, thanks to you, I do! Now, if they would just make the Good Vibrations album available from the master tapes, we'd be all set -- at least for the moment!

    I've gotta admit, I've never heard of the "Sea Cruise" disco album. I'll have to check it out.

  43. #43
    Almost forgot, John. You mentioned that, at the time of release, you weren't aware that the J5's "Forever Came Today" was originally released by DR&The Supremes, and that Barbara Streisand's "Shake Me, Wake Me" was originally a Four Tops' hit. That means you must have been a late bloomer with 1960's Motown, which comes as a surprise to me. What year did you start getting into Motown?

    Until about 3 years ago, I wasn't aware that Barbara Streisand had recorded a version of "Shake Me, Wake Me" -- and a very good one, I might add. As soon as I heard it, I had to have it!

  44. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Philles/Motown Gary View Post
    Almost forgot, John. You mentioned that, at the time of release, you weren't aware that the J5's "Forever Came Today" was originally released by DR&The Supremes, and that Barbara Streisand's "Shake Me, Wake Me" was originally a Four Tops' hit. That means you must have been a late bloomer with 1960's Motown, which comes as a surprise to me. What year did you start getting into Motown?

    Until about 3 years ago, I wasn't aware that Barbara Streisand had recorded a version of "Shake Me, Wake Me" -- and a very good one, I might add. As soon as I heard it, I had to have it!
    ha ha! I guess "late bloomer" applies to me in a lot of ways.
    Music was always in my life, but I think it became more personal around 1970.
    So, as far as Motown, I was with it all the way radio-wise, but my first Motown purchase was the 45 for BALL OF CONFUSION . My first LP was either the J5s GREATEST HITS or Marvin's WHAT'S GOING ON , whichever was released first. Temptations SOLID ROCK LP is in there somewhere also .

    I still try to love it , but the problem with Streisand's SHAKE ME is that it was pressed way too hot, making it very hard to listen to , and it was suicide for a record intended for being played even louder in clubs. Where's Tom Moulton and Jose Rodriguez when you need them!!!

    Do you recall your first Motown purchase Gary?
    Last edited by Boogiedown; 08-11-2019 at 04:03 PM.

  45. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    ha ha! I guess "late bloomer" applies to me in a lot of ways.
    Music was always in my life, but I think it became more personal around 1970.
    So, as far as Motown, I was with it all the way radio-wise, but my first Motown purchase was the 45 for BALL OF CONFUSION . My first LP was either the J5s GREATEST HITS or Marvin's WHAT'S GOING ON , whichever was released first. Temptations SOLID ROCK LP is in there somewhere also .

    I still try to love it , but the problem with Streisand's SHAKE ME is that it was pressed way too hot, making it very hard to listen to , and it was suicide for a record intended for being played even louder in clubs. Where's Tom Moulton and Jose Rodriguez when you need them!!!

    Do you recall your first Motown purchase Gary?
    Yes, I do remember my first Motown purchase, John. It was a 45 and it was Mary Wells' "My Guy" during the early summer of 1964. In September, it was followed by purchasing the 45s of The Supremes "Where Did Our Love Go", Martha & The Vandellas "Dancing In The Street" (the latter of which my aunt bought for me. Two days later, I accidently dropped it and put a huge chip into the playing grooves. Called my aunt, told her my sob-story, and she bought me another one, bless her heart!),The Four Tops "Without The One You Love", and The Marvelettes "Too Many Fish In The Sea". For my 14th birthday in March 1965, I got my first Motown LP. It was The Temptations "Sing Smokey" Gordy LP. It was followed in June by The Supremes "Where Did Our Love Go" LP (with money I earned picking strawberries for a local farmer). After that, it's pretty much a blur. All I know is that every time Motown released a new single, I raced to the record store (remember those?!!!) to get it. This required illegally pocketing the lunch money my parents had given me. It worked like a charm until they found out!

    Did you also see my two previous posts in which I replied to your posts regarding the DCA Experience?

  46. #46
    Also, John, that's interesting that Barbara's "Shake Me, Wake Me" was cut way too loud. 12" Singles were made to handle loud masterings. If it was THAT loud and distorted, it must have been a mistake. Gotta wonder why Columbia Records' Quality Control didn't catch it.

  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Philles/Motown Gary View Post
    Also, John, that's interesting that Barbara's "Shake Me, Wake Me" was cut way too loud. 12" Singles were made to handle loud masterings. If it was THAT loud and distorted, it must have been a mistake. Gotta wonder why Columbia Records' Quality Control didn't catch it.
    yes you can already hear distortion , before doing any amping of it up:



    I think her hairdresser boyfriend at the time urged her to do some disco. A desirable collectible , both the very early Columbia 12" pressing , and the promo 45 which had the longer disco version as its "b" side.

    And yes !! Sorry I haven't had the chance to respond to your post Gary. I agree 100% with your recollection of Gloria Gaynor's NEVER CAN SAY GOODBYE as the first identified disco record ! I'll answer your post in length in my next post here and I'm glad I'm helping you update your music collection
    Last edited by Boogiedown; 08-11-2019 at 07:41 PM.

  48. #48
    Wow! You can say that again, John! It sounds way too overloaded. In a club where the amps and speakers are cranked, it must have been un-Godly ear-piercing. Were the 12" pressing and the Promo 45 with the longer B-side both too loud and distorted, or was it just the 12" pressing? I'll have to check my CD copy and see if it, too, is overloaded, although I don't remember it sounding annoying.

    Sounds good! I hope that I'm inspiring you to expand your music collection, too, although, since our tastes are the same, you probably already have the same dance tracks that I have in my collection!

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