It seemed like a good idea in the meeting ...
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.
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."
Calendar: March 25-April 1
PW's 2015 Philly Spring Guide