100 Best Philly Albums of all Time

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Two-time loser. Can't stand on his feet. Think he'd better let it go. Aw baby--look like another "Love T.K.O." That track remains part of Philadelphia's Mt. Rushmore of soul, and TP probably remains Pendergrass' personal pinnacle. The ultimate love man growls eight sultry tunes here, tracks that sound like silk sheets feel. Just read over the song titles. Is there any question as to what the "It" in "Is It Still Good to Ya?" refers? Naw, baby. There ain't no question at all.

14. Stylistics

The Best of the Stylistics / Amherst, 1975

Looking over the choice of soul albums for this list, PW contributor Suzann Vogel laid down the law. "Put the Stylistics at the top," she demanded. They had that effect on lots of Philadelphians--particularly their female fans. This compilation captures the Stylistics at their pre-1975 Thom Bell/Linda Creed top form. All the early (and best) gems are here, including "You Make Me Feel Brand New," "You Are Everything" and "Break up to Make Up." Prince, who felt as strongly about the Stylistics as Ms. Vogel, even covered "Betcha by Golly, Wow," arguably the most unforgettable song they recorded.

15. Todd Rundgren

Something/Anything? / Bearsville/ Rhino, 1972

This triumphant double album is a melange of styles ranging from blue-eyed soul to pop hits like "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference," "I Saw the Light" and "Hello It's Me"--three songs that alone would qualify this album for inclusion. In the liner notes, Upper Darby native Rundgren calls part one "a bouquet of ear-catching melodies," and prefaces part two with, "This is the cerebral side. In fact, the last song is so cerebral it's almost embarrassing." That essentially sums up what's great about the album--it goes from melodic to experimental with lyrics that vary accordingly. This is Rundgren's most important contribution--and it's clear he had a lot of fun making it.

16. McCoy Tyner

The Real McCoy / Blue Note, 1967

McCoy Tyner is best known as John Coltrane's pianist in his 1960s Quartet, and a handful of his albums are classics in their own right. One such effort is 1967's The Real McCoy, recorded after Tyner's departure from the Coltrane Quartet two years earlier. Stoked by elastic performances from Elvin Jones, Ron Carter and Joe Henderson, Tyner can be heard developing the more dense composing style that would inform such powerful '70s albums as Sahara and Trident, but The Real McCoy is really about swinging and sizzling. "Passion Dance," "Four by Five" and "Blues on the Corner" are standout tracks on an album that shows almost no direct Coltrane influence--quite a feat given Tyner's proximity to the man.

17. The Delfonics

La-La Means I Love You / Bell, 1968

Combine the Flamingos of the '50s with, say, the Temptations of the '60s, and you get the Delfonics, a group that crooned its way through hit after hit in the Philly soul-laden '70s, etching its way into the heart of a generation (including the heart of Quentin Tarantino, who included the Delfonics' "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind)" in his Jackie Brown soundtrack). Their songs were tailor-made for top-down summer twilight drives through Fairmount Park with your main squeeze. Consider just a few of the tunes on this album: "La-La (Means I Love You)," "Somebody Loves You," "Ready or Not Here I Come" and of course the passionate take-no-prisoners "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind)." They did just that, and in the right mood at the right time, they still do.

18. Jimmy Smith

Root Down / Verve, 1972

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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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