"Is this the Delfonics?"
Isn’t it odd how the Delfonics don’t seem to ever come up in casual conversation? I mean, unless you’re Quentin Tarantino or putting together a compilation of Philly Soul music, they just never seem to crop up.
Anyway, time to get illy in Philly.
“Philly Soul” was one of the most admired styles of soul music in history. Sparked by the success of Motown and Stax Records, Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Thom Bell – Philadelphia men who had all cut their teeth in the 1960s as session musicians – began producing and writing songs that put them at the forefront of the evolving soul music of the’70s. They quickly moved away from simply imitating the acts from the major soul labels and established an original sound all their own.
Gamble and Huff found success with acts like Archie Bell & the Drells, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, the O’Jays and the Delfonics; Bell with the Stylistics and the Spinners. The producers helped the Philly groups stand apart from other soul acts with their emphasis on lushly arranged strings, blistering hornwork and solid grooves. “The Sound of Philadelphia” was less a distinctive genre than it was the smooth mixture of production styles and arrangements that went into each and every unique release.
In the early ‘70s, the “City of Brotherly Love” had arrived in fine style and found itself featured prominently on the dance floors of the world. By the end of the ’70s, disco had taken over the charts and its Philly-inspired influence permeated soul, funk, rock and many other genres.
Our Philly Soul compilation is a tribute to this sound and features some of our favorite soul gems made between 1967 and 1980. You might not recognize the names of these artists right off the bat, but you’ve heard these songs many times. Just wait until the opening chords, or even the chorus, and then it’ll be: “Oh yeah, I know this song!” Hope you enjoy it.
For a well-choreographed moment from the era (and some unique fashion tips) check out this vintage Soul Train performance from the Spinners.