100 Best Philly Albums of all Time

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93. Photon Band

All Young in the Soul / Darla, 1999

Just to keep things all in the family, we've got this release from the Photon Band, led by ex-Lilys (see No. 83) member Art Difuria. Philly's version of Alien Lanes-era Guided By Voices, the Photon Band purveyed a lovely brand of lo-fi psychedelia on this album, mixed with the influence of the Beatles and even the Who. Soul would be followed up by the equally popular Oh, the Sweet, Sweet Changes, and 2002's It's a Lonely Planet. But neither of those albums matched this limited edition--a scarcity that made it all the more desirable.

94. The A's

A Woman's Got the Power / Arista, 1981

For a little while the A's looked like they would conquer the world, but it never quite happened. Few local bands got the girls to scream like the A's did, and when they received a major-label deal, they were the first Philadelphia rock band in years to have done so. Their debut opened with the instantly memorable "After Last Night," which Clarence Clemons covered memorably. "C.I.A." and "Teenage Jerk Off" still ring true too. "A Woman's Got the Power" led off the sophomore album with a mighty hook. "Heart of America" and "Johnny Silent" both packed wallops. But even with all the right moves, the A's never quite caught on beyond Philadelphia. Singer Richard Bush has dozens of great unrecorded songs nobody's heard since then. Rick Di Fonzo and Rocco Notte have both done some serious sessions in the after-years.

95. Capitol Years

Meet Yr Acres / Full Frame, 2001

Before the Capitol Years were Carson Daly-rocking peddlers of a fantastically swaggering and tuneful retro-rock blitzkrieg, singer/guitarist Shai Halperin sat alone in his apartment, bashing, strumming and harmonizing his way to one of the best rock records Philly has ever birthed. On Meet Yr Acres, Halperin pureed go-to acts like the Beatles, the Byrds, Guided By Voices and Beck into something warm and familiar, spacing out sudden jolts of daring just to keep you honest.

96. Laguardia

Welcome to the Middle / Universal, 2003

Laguardia's debut is one of the most recent names on this list, though bassist Michael Morpurgo is ex-Dandelion, vocalist Jason Ostrander (with Morpurgo) is ex-Ty Cobb and drummer Greg Lyons is ex-Trip 66, so it's not like they haven't been around the Philly rock block. This album is accessible but inventive, and though the band was compared--and not always favorably--to Radiohead, this release revealed a band on its way to developing a signature high-energy and catchy sound. Jim McGuinn says: "On Welcome to the Middle, Josh's voice soars and leaps, the interplay between bass and drum makes you twitch and swerve, and it totally sucks that they got eaten up by the big corporate rock machine. They shoulda been on an indie label and cultivated a buzz. Instead they swung for the fences and got ignored and abused at the major label, and now Laguardia lays in ruins. Too bad."

97. Res

How I Do / MCA, 2001

The debut from native Philadelphian Res expertly toes the lines dividing hip-hop, soul and rock--and sadly never made major inroads into any one genre. Too soulful to be considered a rock record and too live and in-the-moment to get lumped in with other hip-hop, How I Do stands as a testament to the variety of sounds that have come out of our city. Typically you'd need a dozen bands to show off the full breadth Philly's musical diversity. Res does it in a dozen songs.

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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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