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Sunday, 22 August 2010

MFSB - Universal Love (1975)

From The Lost Record Covers Club
MFSB were the "house band" at Sigma Sound Studios, home of Gamble and Huff's Philadelphia International label.  Often supplemented with members of the well respected Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra, the main core included such talents as Karl Chambers and Earl Young on drums; Norman Harris, Roland Chambers, Bobby Eli, and TJ Tindall on guitar; Winnie Wilford and Ronnie Baker on bass; Vincent Montana, Jr. and Larry Washington on vibes and percussion, Harold Ivory Williams on keyboards, plus Leon Huff and Thom Bell on keyboards and Don Renaldo on strings and horns featuring Rocco Bene on trumpet with Bobby Martin acting as arranger here.  Many of these guys had played on the various pre-PIR hits that Gamble and Huff had produced for Jerry Butler, Joe Simon and the like and would also feature on Thom Bell's work with the Stylistics, Johnny Mathis and the wonderful (ex-Motown) Spinners.  This was the second album in the UK and really established them as the Philly sound was becoming dominant in the charts via Billy Paul, The O'Jays, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes, The Three Degrees and the Intruders.  "K-Jee" had been a US hit for the Niteliters but this version is superior in my view.  "Sexy" is one of those tunes that people know when you play it but have no idea what it's called and who it's by.  MFSB could be a bit too MOR and go for the seemingly obvious arrangements but their orginals plus superb covers of other PIR songs together with some other hits at the time are a cut above.  Here I'd recommend "Sexy", "K-Jee" and "Love Has No Time And Place".  The earlier album has the covers of Sly Stones "Family Affair" and Curtis Mayfield's "Freddie's Dead" - both favourites.  This album isn't available on CD but there are some good compilations around with all of the highlights featured.  There's a good Wikipedia page for the band.  Yes you know but for those that don't the answer is Mother Father Sister Brother.  Standing in the Shadows of Philly..?

Philadelphia International - PIR 80410

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