100 Best Philly Albums of all Time

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58. Lee Andrews & the Hearts

Biggest Hits / Lost Nite, 1981

Revisionist historians often lump this 49th-and-Woodland-based vocal group in with early-'50s doo-woppers like the Cadillacs and the Moonglows. But in truth, Lee Andrews--the father of the Roots' ?uestlove--was more evocative of Nat King Cole and early Sam Cooke. The best of Lee Andrews' ballads from the Gotham and Chess labels--"Try the Impossible," "Long Lonely Nights," "Maybe You'll Be There" and "Teardrops"--are all here. There are bigger household names from this era than Lee Andrews, but none with a sound this soaringly satisfying.

59. Jerry Butler

The Ice Man Cometh / Philadelphia International, 1968

Butler's had a long and varied career (he once sang with the Impressions), and though he'll always be identified with Chicago, the zenith of his career came with this Gamble and Huff recording, which produced four hits: "Hey, Western Union Man," "Only the Strong Survive," "Never Give You Up" and "Are You Happy." Some consider this one of the most original soul albums ever made. It's definitely one of the most underrated.

60. Eve

Ruff Ryders' First Lady / Interscope, 1999

In the fall of 1999 Eve, the self-proclaimed "blond bombshell," stepped out of the all-male N.Y.C. rap crew the Ruff Ryders with her solo debut, Ruff Ryders' First Lady. On cuts like "Philly Philly" featuring Beanie Sigel (see No. 67), "Love Is Blind" and the "What Y'all Want (remix)," Eve bubbled to one of the era's favorite producers, Swizz Beatz. While she's since released two more albums, neither matches the raw and hungry rhyming fury of this first one by the "pit bull in a skirt."

61. Burning Brides

Fall of the Plastic Empire / File 13, 2001

Burning Brides opened wide and swallowed the whole world. Regurgitating it in 2001 as the source material for Fall of the Plastic Empire, vocalist/guitarist Dimitri Coats, bassist Melanie Campbell and drummer Mike Ambs strode on hot-lava boot heels through churning gas-pedal hard rock ("Glass Slipper"), Sonic Youth's psychic lurch ("At the Levity Ball") and the tense, furious chording of alternative rock's sleeveless denim adolescence ("Arctic Snow"). There were a few flourishes of levity, but it was the Brides' raw nerve we craved. "You fucked me over," says Coats over the wiry thump of "Stabbed in the Back of the Heart." "And I just got a couple words to say to you." Originally issued on then-Philly-based indie File 13, Plastic Empire let the world peer out from between its chipped incisors as Burning Brides went from destroying local eardrums to signing with V2, and on to knocking the new millennium's block off.

62. Soul Survivors

When the Whistle Blows Anything Goes / Collectables, 1967

Several years back, when PW listed the top 100 Philly songs of all time, "Expressway to Your Heart" landed at the very top. No one song has captured the essence of the city as well. On this album, you hear the blue-eyed soul sound that made "Expressway" possible. You get the Survivors' take on "Respect," "Too Many Fish in the Sea ... Shake" and "A Change Is Gonna Come." But make no mistake--the reason for inclusion on this list is "Expressway," and most specifically, the opening lyrics: "Been tryin' to get to you for a long time/ Because constantly you been on my mind."

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Comments 1 - 18 of 18
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1. Serease Brown said... on Nov 13, 2008 at 09:34AM

“Buuter, Who sings the song Step Into My World , I heard it on your show female group? Thanks Serase”

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2. Drew said... on Jul 23, 2009 at 12:01AM

“"Backstabbers" was hardly early in the O'Jays' career. The group has been recording and touring since 1960.They were a quintet until 1965/66, then a quartet until they resigned with Gamble-Huff and became a trio. Prior to being a trio and hitting with "Backstabbers" they had recorded for at least six different labels with most of their songs scoring in the high echelons of R&B charts in the cities they were played.”

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3. greg said... on Jul 24, 2009 at 04:36PM

“I was in Sweet Stavin Chain and Good God...I was also in a band called Breakwater in the late '70's and early '80's that had 2 successful albums on Arista and a national following. It was one of the best funk bands ever to come out of Philadelphia and one of the few truly self-contained bands on the soul side of town to make a mark. It still gets played on WDAS...the songs were good enough. I'm a little surprised that it didn't get a mention here.
By the way, were getting together again after almost thirty years and it's a real pleasure. The band sounds possibly better than it did back then... nice to know it's still there after all these years, makes you think you were on to something the first time. Keep your eyes peeled, we'll be playing out before the year is out.


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4. Frank C. said... on Jul 26, 2009 at 08:29PM

“Hats off for citing Essra Mohawk's PRIMORDIAL LOVERS but it should be in Top 10, for sure!
The album still blows me away and to think Essra was only 21 when she created it... Not only is it, for my money, the best of the earliest singer-songwriter works, but Rhino Records even went one step further by essentially calling it the mother album of "grrrl power."
Essra, rock on!!!”

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5. Richard Romanowski said... on Dec 25, 2009 at 06:24AM

“Essra, for me, has become a suitable, iconic legend. One listen ro ant of her songs could alone exolain my rationale behind thid thinking. Her songs are truly an inspiration, they are a force to be dealt with. I feel her melodies bery deeply, surging within the innermost parts of my very soul. Thank you. Rich Romanowski of Romanowski Studios (look for my songs on YouTube.”

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6. Joann Cape May NJ said... on May 14, 2010 at 12:42AM

“My husband John Bussell is still alive, still singing and playing for his family and friends.”

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7. john travis said... on May 27, 2010 at 10:19AM

“What about the album Dobbs Lives. only 1000 copies were made, 1980 copy right, Living Room Artists Productions.”

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8. Fluke said... on Mar 24, 2011 at 11:53PM

“Tommy Conwell, are you joking? After he stopped booze and drugs, and became the real him, one of the biggest jerkoffs to ram the earth.”

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9. Ed said... on Nov 17, 2011 at 10:15AM

“The "John Bussell" I'm curious about would be hard to miss ... maybe 6'10" tall!!! Graduated Olney High School Class of '67. He played drums, played with us on graduation night, played drums in Sweet Stavin Chain ... still with us??? Inquiring minds (and old friends) want to know. May be a 45th HS Reunion coming up in May '2012. Please advise”

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10. Dave said... on Feb 10, 2012 at 01:54PM

“The Kit Kats at #81-
the correct song title is "Won't Find Better Than Me", just sayin'”

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11. Michael said... on Feb 28, 2012 at 07:28PM

“What. No mention of American Dream, Good News, Crystal Mansion, Woody Truck Stop, High Treason. Are you sure you were in Philly those years?”

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12. The Warped Vinyl Junkie said... on Mar 28, 2013 at 08:10PM

“You include Bessie Smith on your list since she died near Philadelphia? What an ignorant way to make up a "top 100" list. My vote is you are -200.”

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13. Joann Bussell said... on Nov 7, 2013 at 02:56PM

“Just want to add I am the wife of John Bussell .We married in 1970 and still together today. John Bussell of Sweet Stavin Chain is Alive and well. At 65 he still playing his guitars and singing to his grandkids lol. So late he is not. Lol Still living and loving life.”

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14. Larry said... on May 9, 2014 at 04:58PM

“How come you did not have the singing group the futures on the list?”

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15. Anonymous said... on Sep 16, 2014 at 04:29PM

“U forgot First Choice!”

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16. Anonymous said... on Oct 16, 2014 at 12:41PM

“Two corrections. David Bowie's "David Live" was released on RCA, not Capitol (Bowie's never been on Capitol); and Clarence Clemons recorded "Woman's Got The Power," not "After Last Night."”

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17. Ed Feldamn said... on Dec 5, 2014 at 10:57AM

“The Philadelphia Orchestra, you incredibly ignorant bastards.”

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18. Tom Rothermel said... on Apr 29, 2015 at 10:36PM

“How did you miss American Dream? Incredible band, amazing album. My high school rock band covered several of their songs.

Great to see Edison Electric Band and Good God on the list. Two of my other Philly favorites from the day.”


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