100 Best Philly Albums of all Time

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68. Mickey Roker and Stanley Turrentine

Easy Walker / Blue Note, 1966

Though he never recorded a solo album as a leader, drummer Mickey Roker created more snap, crackle and pop than other more acknowledged jazz stick-lers of the '60s. This session with tenor guru Stanley Turrentine finds Roker slapping the skins and firing the soloists with his wonderfully urbane and sophisticated approach. Like fatback wrapped in silk, Roker's groove swings hard, but his snare-drum accents and cymbal embellishments are surprisingly graceful and deft. Easy Walker's menu includes conservative choices like "What the World Needs Now" and "Wave," but the band (McCoy Tyner, Bob Cranshaw) is so in the pocket, the music simply floats. Roker continues to hold down a monthly residence at Ortlieb's Jazzhaus, where young musicians bask in the glow of his illuminating presence.

69. Stanley Clarke

School Days / Epic, 1976

Though you could easily point to his innovative acoustic work with Chick Corea or Joe Farrell, or even his ignored leadership role in fusion supergroup Vert�, Stanley Clarke will forever be remembered for School Days, his debut as a leader. Recorded at the waning height of the fusion movement, School Days is a joyous album that showcases Clarke's incredibly far-ranging talents. The title track is a tour de force of killer electric bass matched with exceptional compositional skill, while "Quiet Afternoon" reveals a knack for penning the kind of beautiful melodies that would come to serve Clarke in his future role as soundtrack composer. With George Duke, Steve Gadd, John McLaughlin and David Sancious, School Days holds its own nearly 30 years later.

70. Bootsie Barnes Quintet

Boppin' Round the Center / Harvest, 2004

For more than four decades Bootsie Barnes has been playing jazz joints in town. (In recent years he's made Ortlieb's his jam session home, where he plays with some of the city's most revered musicians and vocalists.) Barnes grew up in the Richard Allen Homes with his old pal Bill Cosby. On the title song of Boppin' Round the Center he pays tribute to his childhood at the Richard Allen rec center, where he and Coz would dance the bop. On this wide-ranging LP, Bootsie also does his take on such standards as "Young and Foolish," "All the Way" and "Felicidad." It don't get any more Philly than Bootsie Barnes.

71. Chubby Checker

Your Twist Party / Parkway, 1961

Gauging the lasting impact of Chubby Checker's Your Twist Party depends on whom you ask. The average American would tell you "The Twist" was a catchy tune that started one hell of a dance craze. Chubby Checker would then give said average American an earful. "Don't dare call my dance a craze!" he said in a recent phone interview. "Right now, on the phone, we're doing the Alexander Graham Bell. If you got the lights on in your office, you're doing the Thomas Edison. Whenever you dance on the floor with somebody, you're not touching them and you're doing something with each other, that happened on American Bandstand in two minutes and 42 seconds, and the world is still doing it. You gotta understand that." Understood.

72. Christian McBride

Sci-Fi / Polygram, 2000

Everyone's loves his acoustic bass playing, but Christian McBride's Sci-Fi is an electric blowout that features covers of Steely Dan's "Aja" and Weather Report's "Havona" played by a fiery band that eats jazz standards for lunch. As if throwing his acoustic jazz credentials to the wind, McBride and band (including Herbie Hancock and David Gilmore) attack Sting's "Walking on the Moon" and Stanley Clarke's "Butterfly Dreams" like they're a grudge for a guy who owes them money. Perhaps having played some of the finest acoustic bass of his generation with everyone from Michael Brecker (see No. 41) to Benny Golson, McBride felt the need to reflect the influences of his generation and cast them in this daring new light.

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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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