It seemed like a good idea in the meeting ...
4. David Bowie
Young Americans / Virgin, 1975
Only a few albums made all our contributors' lists, and this was one of them. Recorded at Sigma Sound in 1975 and released on Virgin Records, Young Americans, says local Plain Parade promoter Sara Sherr, "best represents Philadelphia at that point in time: New Wave meets Philly soul. Also, I think it's really interesting how tough boys from Northeast Philly and Kensington and Fishtown and South Philly always embraced Bowie, genderfuck and all." Another strong recommendation for those interested in Bowie's Philly connections is David Live: David Bowie at the Tower Philadelphia, a double album recorded in 1974 and released on Capitol Records.
5. Solomon Burke
Don't Give up on Me / Fat Possum, 2002
Preacher, undertaker and soul man extraordinaire, Burke put out his best album four decades into his glorious career. Though never as well known as James Brown, Sam Cooke or even Wilson Pickett, Burke has always been a singer's singer--which became evident to all two years ago when such celebrated songwriters as Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Van Morrison, Brian Wilson and others got together to contribute songs to this record. Burke goes from rock to soul to gospel on such unforgettable nuggets as "None of Us Are Free," "Diamond in Your Mind" and "Sit This One Out." His triumphant return home to Philly upon the release of Don't Give up on Me remains a moment to remember for his many relatives and hometown friends.
6. Dizzy Gillespie
The Complete RCA Victor Recordings / RCA, 1995
Perhaps the greatest trumpet player ever, Dizzy Gillespie, the co-founder of bebop, is responsible for some of jazz's greatest compositions, such as "Night in Tunisia," "Manteca" and "Anthro- pology," all found on this excellent retrospective. This collection takes you through Dizzy's early days in the late '30s (with Teddy Hill and Cab Calloway) to his 1940s small-band dates with Don Byas to his landmark big-band sessions of 1947. Birks Works: The Verve Big-Band Sessions is also highly recommended for stratospheric trumpet and high-flying big-band bebop.
7. Bessie Smith
The Essential Bessie Smith / Columbia, 1997
It's almost impossible to choose one Bessie Smith album over the others, especially when you're necessarily consigned to greatest hits collections. For overall breadth, this two-disc set is, indeed, the essential recording. It includes a broad range of the blueswoman's repertoire, including the spicy "Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl," classics like "T'aint Nobody's Business If I Do," "Baby Won't You Please Come Home" and "St. Louis Blues." Benny Goodman, Satchmo and Coleman Hawkins are along for the ride. The recordings are from 1923 to 1933, just a few years before she died in a car crash. Her funeral in Philly attracted 7,000 people, who gathered at 21st and Christian to mourn her. They would have appreciated Columbia's contribution to her legacy.
8. The Spinners
The Spinners / Atlantic, 1972
After languishing with Motown, the Spinners--urged on by their friend Aretha Franklin--signed with Atlantic and hooked up with Philadelphia writer/ producers Thom Bell and Linda Creed. This resulting breakthrough self-titled album changed the future for the group and helped create the Sound of Phila- delphia hit-making machine. The 10 songs on this album showcase the '70s soul sound of our city at its very finest, especially hit singles "One of a Kind (Love Affair)" and "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love?"
Calendar: December 17-24
Calendar: Dec. 10-17
PW's Holiday Guide 2014