DAR Retro: 6 Classic Albums Produced By Gamble And Huff

By @TrueGodImmortal

Once upon a time, Philly Soul was one of the most integral things in music. Based around the talents of Gamble and Huff, two Philadelphia based writers and producers (Huff is from Jersey) that would give Philadelphia International Records their sound, there was a soulful element that made the music they crafted enjoyable to all ears. Today, I wanted to take a look back at 6 of those classic albums that embodied that Philadelphia soul (and Gamble and Huff sound) and came through that era. Let's take a look.
*The O'Jays- Backstabbers (1972)

-We have spoken about The O'Jays before, and they are absolute legends. There was something special about their music. There was a realism in their music that didn't seem to be prevalent in other soul songs. Sure, the topics were standard, but it was the execution and the emotion within the vocals that drove it home. This album would be the breakthrough for the Ohio trio, with some of their most iconic songs coming from the project. The title track remains one of their most popular songs, possibly their most popular, and it is one of the realest songs from the soul era. Other songs like "Sunshine" and "Love Train" also carry a legacy and overall, this album is flawless. Gamble and Huff crafted a classic and The O'Jays brought it to life.

*Billy Paul- 360 Degrees Of Billy Paul (1972)

-One of the unsung heroes of the soul era remains Billy Paul. The man was essentially a superstar in how he carried himself musically. He was one of the unique voices and a true legend of the time, and this is his best album without question and perhaps the best album on this list. Billy would utilize the Gamble and Huff sound to perfection, with lush instrumentals backing his resounding vocals on tracks like "Am I Black Enough For You", "Brown Baby", "I'm Just A Prisoner", and of course, the iconic hit "Me And Mrs. Jones". Overall, this is a flawless soul album and there was no way you could talk about Gamble and Huff without this album. 

*Harold Melvin And The Blue Notes- To Be True (1975)

-The prized group of the Philly Soul sound, Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes are the embodiment of the sound IMO. Yes, there are other groups and artists who fit the sound as well, but no one executed it better than Harold Melvin And The Blue Notes. I'll be honest. This might not be their best album, but their first two have been discussed so much, and my favorite song from the group is featured on this album, thus the inclusion of it. Which song is that? The beautiful ballad "Hope That We Can Be Together Soon" with a great assist from Sharon Paige. Along with that, the album features gems like the hit "Bad Luck" and "All Because Of A Woman". This was also the first album to give Teddy Pendergrass credit outside of the group as the cover says featuring Theodore Pendergrass along with the group's name. For that, along with everything else, this album is a significant moment in Philly Soul.

*Lou Rawls- All Things In Time (1976)

-I never really looked at Lou Rawls as Philly soul, but upon research and review, he was a part of that label and backed by the duo that made the sound pop. Lou always had a jazzy vibe to his music, but this album was soul to the core and features his biggest hit. While Gamble and Huff didn't produce and write the entire thing, they did help craft the best songs on the project (and over half of the album) such as "You'll Never Find A Love Like Mine", "You're The One", and "Groovy People". Looking back on this album, I'm surprised it isn't mention with the other classics of the 70's, because this was an excellent project.

*The Jacksons- Goin Places (1977)

-While The Jacksons were a part of CBS and Epic, Philadephia International Records and the Philly soul sound cultivated by Gamble and Huff helmed this project, which is as close to a classic as the Jacksons in the late 70's could muster. The vibe is of course soulful with lush production backing the growing vocals of Michael, and this album possesses some of the greatest songs by The Jacksons, courtesy of the dynamic duo. The album would feature a top 3 Jacksons track in "Find Me A Girl", which is one of the best vocal performances from Michael IMO, and other tracks like "Heaven Knows I Love You Girl" and "Even Though You're Gone". While some might think this isn't Philly soul, the sound and the songwriting are 100% that, with The Jacksons vocally adding more life to these compositions. This is a slept on album in The Jacksons catalog.

*Teddy Pendergrass- Teddy (1979)

-When the Philly soul era was slowly coming to an end, Teddy would drop his most infamous album at the end of the 70's and with it, there was a ton of fanfare that came along. Long removed from his post in the background with Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes, Teddy would finally strike with his third solo project full of bedroom ballads that made him an icon in that realm. With Gamble and Huff handling most of the duties (McFadden and Whitehead assisted as well), two of his biggest tracks came from the album as "Come Go With Me" and "Turn Off The Lights" were featured on this project. Teddy was in his prime musically and this was his finest solo career moment.



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