Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Monday, 13 January 2014

Life Is A Song Worth Singing

Today marks four years since the death of Teddy Pendergrass; one my favourite soul singers and Philadelphia International Records' bestselling male artist of his time.

Teddy began his P.I.R. career in Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes in 1972.  After a string of hit singles and albums he left the group in 1975.

His first four solo albums went platinum, and it's two of these that I was lucky enough to pick up at a car boot sale in the summer for £1 each.

His second solo album Life Is A Song Worth Singing is kick started with the danceable title track, and the tempo barely drops until it's time to turn over after the ecstatic exhortation to Get Up, Get Down, Get Funky, Get Loose and let Teddy's gruff baritone seduce you with one of his bedroom classics Close The Door.  Another smoocher follows then one of my favourite songs, the Gamble & Huff-penned When Somebody Loves You Back brings things to a close.

Teddy Pendergrass - Life Is A Song Worth Singing

Rear cover

Teddy was well-known during his early solo career for his "ladies only" concerts and was the archetypal 70s black sex symbol (surely an inspiration for Lenny Henry's Theophilous P. Wildebeest!).  Gone were the Bluenotes' tuxes and in were open-necked shirts or vests, with plenty of medallion necklaces.

By now he'd become a huge star with a mansion, lots of expensive cars and many women at his disposal.

His next platinum album was named simply "Teddy" and was released the following year:

Teddy Pendergrass - Teddy (1979)

Rear cover

"Teddy" is a record of two halves.  Side 1 is a wall-to-wall lurve-fest, opening with the wonderfully sexy Come Go With Me, then the follow-up to Close The Door in the shape of Turn Off The Lights.  How could you resist?  Two more slowies complete the side; the reflective I'll Never See Heaven Again and the pleading All I Need Is You, then it's back to the dancefloor for Side 2, my favourite of it's four tracks being the Philly groover Set Me Free.

Come Go With Me

All of Teddy's first five albums are essential for fans of Philly soul and there's much to like in those that followed, although these earlier ones have more danceable songs mixed in with the romantic ballads.

In March 1982 Teddy was involved in a car accident in which he suffered a spinal cord injury that rendered him quadriplegic.  After a time away from the public eye while he underwent rehabilitation, he returned to recording and released albums from 1984 up until the 90s.

He died aged 59 from complications following surgery for colon cancer, after living with his disability for a staggering 28 years.

Theodore DeReese Pendergrass 1950-2010

Friday, 10 January 2014

Together We Can Make Such Sweet Music

Towards the end of last summer I picked up this LP at a car boot sale for £1:

The Supremes & The Four Tops - The Magnificent 7

The Magnificent 7 is a collaboration between The Four Tops and the Supremes, and production was split three ways between the considerable talents of Clay Murray, Duke Browner and Ashford & Simpson.  Diana Ross' split from The Supremes and her plans for a solo career were announced in November 1969.  At the close of their final show together in Las Vegas on the 14th of January 1970, Jean Terrell was introduced as her replacement.  The new Supremes first released the album Right On which charted well and was swiftly followed by The Magnificent 7.

Rear cover

All of the songs on the record are covers, e.g. Laura Nyro's Stoned Soul Picnic (perhaps best known from the 5th Dimension's version); Ike & Tina's River Deep, Mountain High which made for a successful single; and the dreamy, soulful For Your Love which was a 50s hit by writer and performer Ed Townsend (not the Yardbird's song of the same name, as Wikipedia states!).

There's also a cover of Reach Out & Touch (Somebody's Hand) from Diana Ross' debut album of the same year - Berry Gordy certainly knew how to cross-promote!

The album as a whole often sounds more Vegas than Detroit, but with the dream pairing of Levi Stubbs' pleading baritone and the silky tones of Jean Terrell it doesn't fail to thrill in places.

The Magnificent 7 reached just no. 113 on the US Billboard Chart, but no. 6 here in the UK, perhaps as it was widely advertised on continental commercial radio.  River Deep, Mountain High got to no. 14 in the US and no. 11 in the UK.

All of the songs from the album are available on a CD which also includes those from the follow-up The Return of The Magnificent 7 plus some unreleased tracks.  It's called Magnificent - The Complete Studio Duets and is on Spotify here: The Supremes – Magnificent: The Complete Studio Duets