100 Best Philly Albums of all Time

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73. Charlie Ventura

Gene Norman Presents a Charlie Ventura Concert / MCA, 1949

A fine swing-era tenor saxophonist who staked his claim to fame with Gene Krupa's big band, Charlie Ventura was a bold soul who attempted to popularize bebop after World War II, a task at which he failed miserably but for which he's remembered fondly. Gene Norman Presents matches Ventura's rough-hewn "bop for the people" approach with the more conservative styles of trombonist Bennie Green, trumpeter Conte Candoli and the popular vocal duo of Jackie Cain and Roy Kral. Their "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" is more successful than Ventura's savage "How High the Moon," but ya gotta give the man props for trying.

74. Winx

Left Above the Clouds / Nervous, 1996

Producer and DJ Josh Wink was internationally influential in Philadelphia in the mid-'90s, even when he was still working out of his bedroom. Suzann Vogel says: "His seminal moment, and a defining moment for electronic music in general, was a track called 'Higher State of Consciousness.' That single literally changed the entire direction of electronic music at that time. It's considered acid house, a category Wink has long been associated with, but its resounding effects made an impact on nearly every type of dance music genre. It can be found on dozens of compilations, but appeared first on this debut full-length album. Left Above the Clouds also contains the signature Wink tracks 'Don't Laugh' and 'How's the Music.'"

75. The Magnificent Men

The Magnificent Men Live! / Capitol, 1967

This seven-piece group from Harrisburg was known simply as the Mag Men by its many fans. The guys toured the toughest houses on the East Coast--the Uptown and the Apollo among them--and consistently won over demanding crowds. And here's the thing--they were white! When they played the Apollo, James Brown was so turned on by their performance that he jumped onstage and sang with them for 45 minutes. This album--recorded live at the old Uptown on North Broad--features a medley of "Sweet Soul Music" and a killer version of Shorty Long's gem "Function at the Junction." This LP has been long out of print. It shouldn't be.

76. Byard Lancaster

It's Not up to Us / Vortex, 1966

A longtime resident of Philadelphia's jazz scene, saxophonist Byard Lancaster's worked with free jazz legends like Sunny Murray as well as more conventional players like pianist McCoy Tyner (see No. 16) and the crazed Sun Ra (see No. 38). This early recording--his first solo effort, newly back in print--includes the avant-garde blend Lancaster's known for, as well as an interesting departure with an imaginative version of "Over the Rainbow"--not exactly familiar avant-garde fodder. He plays the flute on a couple tracks, but switches to sax for Erroll Garner's classic "Misty" and an assortment of his own compositions. His most recent album shows his commitment to his hometown roots. It's called Philadelphia Spirit in New York and is a collaboration with another longtime Philly reed man, Odean Pope.

77. Vikter Duplaix

DJ Kicks: Vikter Duplaix / K7, 2002

The theme is a DJ mix album, but that doesn't mean Vikter Duplaix's contribution to the DJ Kicks series isn't a hallmark of this former Philadelphia Boys Choir member's grander schemes. Like his earlier production work with DJ Jazzy Jeff, Duplaix's brilliant ear hems together an eclectic selection of samples to paint his groove. Inclusive of two-step garage, house and funk, Duplaix represents cuts from Bahamadia, 4Hero, P'Taah, Osunlade, Spacek and De La Soul in one smooth take and steps up as the next generation to carry the Philly's soul torch.

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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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