It seemed like a good idea in the meeting ...
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.
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
PW's 2015 Gift Guide
Calendar: Nov. 25-Dec. 2
Artie Lange knows the score
Calendar: November 18-25