Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Classic Album Revisited

Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes formed in 1950's Philadelphia.The group was a regional act that garnered minor soul hits. In the late 60's Teddy Pendergrass was hired as drummer, he eventually became lead singer and the group caught the attention of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes (Theodore Pendergrass Jr., Bernie Wilson, Larry Brown, Llodyd Parks, & Harold Melvin) signed to Philadelphia International Records in 1971 scoring hit songs such as "I Miss You" and "If You Don't Know Me By Now." In the wake of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, Stevie's Songs In The Key of Life and Innervisions and Aretha's Young, Gifted and Black, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes released Wake Up Everybody in 1975. Unlike Marvin's What's Going On, Wake Up Everybody not only expressed the social ills of the world, it spoke of love, lust, lost love, admiration and freedom. Wake Up Everybody is the quintessential Philadelphia soul album. It combined all the elements of the Philly sound; lush buoyant strings and horns, smooth group harmonies, danceable rhythms and smoldering ballads.The title track, written by the legendary team of McFadden/Whitehead/Cartarsphen, is a 7 minute masterpiece, urging us all to wake up. A profoundly uplifting song, "Wake Up Everybody" held the # 1 spot on the R&B charts for two consecutive weeks. In a sign of things to come, Teddy Pendergrass epitomized sensuality on the track " You Know How To Make Me Feel So Good" featuring female vocalist Sharon Paige. Without a doubt "Keep On Lovin' You," a song that expresses man's admiration for his lady, was a blueprint for disco music. "Don't Leave Me This Way", a song that became a disco hit for Thelma Houston, was originally recorded by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes. "Tell The World How I Feel About 'Cha Baby" became a # 7 R&B hit. The inspiring "To Be Free To Be Who We Are" and "I'm Searching For A Love" featuring Sharon Paige were also included on the album. Wake Up Everybody signaled the end of commercial success for the group, Teddy Pendergrass embarked on solo career and released a solo album in '76.