100 Best Philly Albums of all Time

It seemed like a good idea in the meeting ...

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 18 | Posted Sep. 22, 2004

Share this Story:

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?"

Prev| Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 |Next
Add to favoritesAdd to Favorites PrintPrint Send to friendSend to Friend


Comments 1 - 18 of 18
Report Violation

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”

Report Violation

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.”

Report Violation

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.


Report Violation

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!!!”

Report Violation

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.”

Report Violation

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.”

Report Violation

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.”

Report Violation

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.”

Report Violation

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”

Report Violation

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'”

Report Violation

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?”

Report Violation

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.”

Report Violation

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.”

Report Violation

14. Larry said... on May 9, 2014 at 04:58PM

“How come you did not have the singing group the futures on the list?”

Report Violation

15. Anonymous said... on Sep 16, 2014 at 04:29PM

“U forgot First Choice!”

Report Violation

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."”

Report Violation

17. Ed Feldamn said... on Dec 5, 2014 at 10:57AM

“The Philadelphia Orchestra, you incredibly ignorant bastards.”

Report Violation

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.”


(HTML and URLs prohibited)