100 Best Philly Albums of all Time

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88. Sonny Hopson

Original 1969 Philadelphia AM Radio Broadcast / Philly Archives, 2000

Sonny Hopson, aka the Mighty Burner, was a finger-poppin' DJ on WHAT-AM with a distinctive sound and personality. He delightfully violated all the standard disc jockey rules. He talked through and over records, sang along with every song (often louder than the artist) and commented on news and social issues whenever the spirit moved him. This CD of a 1969 Sonny Hopson show captures Philadelphia black radio in the raw. It's all included--the commercials, the news reports, and of course lots and lots of the Mighty Burner doing his thing. There was a time when Philadelphia radio employed on-air artists as gifted as the people they promoted, and the proof is on this CD.

89. Orlons

South Street / Cameo-Parkway, 1963

The Orlons were three-hit wonders--"The Wah Watusi," "Don't Hang Up" and the unforgettable "South Street." For the lyrics to "South Street" alone they deserve immortality: "Where do all the hippest meet? (South Street, South Street)/ Where the dancin' is elite (South Street, South Street)/ Side by side we're loose and neat/ When we're stompin' down the street/ Hurry down, baby she's the hippest street in town! (Oh, baby)."

90. Bigger Lovers

Honey in the Hive / Yep Roc, 2002

This Yep Roc release--from singer/guitarist Bret Tobias, guitarist Ed Hogarty, bassist Scott Jefferson and drummer (and PW contributor) Patrick Berkery--was preceded by the indie release How I Learned to Stop Worrying, which some critics say is the stronger record. But Honey in the Hive easily cruised by the sophomore slump and further honed the band's upbeat but thoughtful brand of power pop. Hive neatly balances the melodic grace of classic rock with the hard hooks of modern rock--and keeps it all real with a gritty yet totally natural alternative edge.

91. Urge Overkill

Saturation / Geffen, 1993

This is the breakthrough album from the band that would later score a contributing vocal spot from the mayor of Conshohocken. Saturation's single "Sister Havana"--with its crunchy power chords, inscrutable lyrics ("Every day's just like a vacation with you/ When I'm watching you and Fidel Castro in the sand, kissing") and baked-in summertime bliss--gave UO its first seven or so minutes of fame. (The remaining eight, of course, came from the band's cover of "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack.) Played today, Saturation sounds like a classic early-Clinton-era collection of late-grunge singles, a musical indicator of the carefree, opulent years to come. It would be a solid 10 years before rock got this danceable again.

92. Thunder and Roses

King of the Black Sunrise / Lizard, 1969

Recorded at a time when prehistoric rock critics were bemoaning Blue Cheer's use of volume over musicianship (but isn't that what rock's all about?), Thunder and Roses firmly inserted themselves into the Cheer's orbit with a late-'60s oh-so-heavy slab of vinyl that was anchored by a Philadelphia rhythm section and recorded at Sigma Sound. An early decoder to the glories of the power trio.

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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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