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  1. #1

    "50 Years Later, Gamble and Huff’s Philly Sound Stirs the Soul" Part 2 of 2

    From today's NY Times:


    “The string players came from the Academy of Music,” Huff said. “They were all accomplished musicians, playing classical music, and then they’d come over to our studio and get funky, and they loved it.”

    Eddie Levert of the O’Jays — whose 1972 album “Back Stabbers” is often considered the pinnacle of the Philly Sound — said PI.R. “was almost like a workshop,” in a telephone interview. “They were able to take people who had the talent, and then rehearse those songs until they became a part of you, and really lived in you.”
    As the label and its roster grew, so did the subject matter of the songs. Where Motown had resisted political messages in its lyrics [[Berry Gordy Jr. fought hard to convince Marvin Gaye not to release “What’s Going On”), at P.I.R. they came to the foreground: “The Love I Lost” and “When Will I See You Again” gave way to “For the Love of Money” and “Wake Up Everybody.”

    “That was the atmosphere in the world at that time,” Huff said. “We were always aware of what was going on in the community and with the people around us, so we wrote about real life — just expressed ourselves through music.”
    Levert pointed out the continuing relevance of their recordings. “Those songs stand the test of time,” he explained. “When we did them, we were talking about that period we were living in, what was going on at that time. But they’re still relevant, because nothing has changed — the same message can still apply to us and our way of life today.”


    Philly Soul laid out a road map for disco, and the songs have been consistently covered and sampled in the hip-hop era. The label continued to release important records in the ’80s, most notably “If Only You Knew,” Patti LaBelle’s first solo single to reach No. 1 on the R&B chart, and first to cross over to pop success.

    But as the hits slowed down, Gamble and Huff increasingly turned their attention to activism. In 1977, they put together an all-star benefit project called “Let’s Clean Up the Ghetto,” and Gamble got involved in real estate, building and renovating homes in South Philadelphia and backing local businesses and charter schools. [[“He went into the worst neighborhoods,” Carter said. “Talk about putting your money where your mouth is.”)
    Jimmy Jam said that the duo modeled an approach to having a second or third act, “where you’ve already been successful, but you take that platform and the money you made and the lessons you’ve learned and you put that into making your community thrive.”

    After 50 years of Philadelphia International Records, it’s that achievement — spreading a message of empowerment and then backing it up with action — that Gamble and Huff point to as their true source of pride. “We’ve done a lot to contribute to the future and try to help our people,” said Gamble. “The music was the bottom line to the whole thing, but what did that music represent?

    “When you think of our music, it was 360 degrees of knowledge that we gave,” he continued. “A lot of great love songs, which is important in life, but also a lot of songs about building our community, building people. It don’t mean anything if you don’t leave something for the next generation.”
    A version of this article appears in print on Feb. 28, 2021, Section AR, Page 17 of the New York edition with the headline: Heart and Soul of the Philly Sound.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/25/a...l-records.html

  2. #2
    Great articles about the 50th Anniversary of Philly Soul! Thanks so much for sharing these PNH!

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