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:

Norristown native Smith brought the Hammond B3 organ into the jazz mainstream. A year after he made his solo debut in Atlantic City in 1955 he was signed to Blue Note, where he began a long career working with musicians like Kenny Burrell, Art Blakey, Philly Joe Jones (see No. 24), Stanley Turrentine and Lee Morgan (see No. 9). While The Sermon is Smith's most well-known album, this funked-up live performance has some remarkable standouts, like the title track, which the Beastie Boys covered in '94, and a rendition of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together." The combination of the gospel-influenced Smith and preacher Green's hit song is a perfect match--and the R&B influence makes the album a natural Philly choice.

19. Pat Martino

Exit / Muse, 1976

The master of fiery eighth-note-oriented jazz guitar, Pat Martino has experienced many ups and downs, ultimately leading to his current celebrated status. A clutch of '70s albums burned his name onto the jazz consciousness, typically featuring his deep melodic intensity, flowing, logical lines and driving swing. While many cite '67's El Hombre or '72's Footprints, for a well-rounded outing, Exit can't be beat. Martino delivers a potently emotional "Days of Wine and Roses" and an equally gentle "Blue Bossa" before cutting loose on his own "Three Base Hit," an incendiary hard bop blowout.

20. Heath Brothers

Brothers and Others / Antilles, 1983

Percy, Jimmy and Albert "Tootie" Heath were eminent jazz musicians who lent their talents to hundreds of albums in the '50s, '60s and '70s. Essentially hard bop musicians who could easily navigate other styles, the Heath Brothers recorded a suite of albums together, including The Quota (Riverside), Passin' Thru and Expressions of Life (both Columbia). This final Heath Brothers recording featured Jimmy (doubling on tenor and soprano), bassist Percy and drummer Albert, joined by guest trombonist Slide Hampton and pianist Stanley Cowell. As usual, it's Jimmy's ingenious writing that gives this set its fire and ultimate get-up-and-go, but as with all Heath Brothers recordings (especially those of Jimmy Heath), the music is irresistible.

21. Dead Milkmen

Big Lizard in My Backyard / Enigma/Restless, 1985

Who knew the Dead Milkmen would be named by almost as many respondents as John Coltrane and David Bowie? The Milkmen were funny, punky and endlessly amused by '80s pop culture, which they became a part of with unpredictable live shows, self-released cassettes and this debut album. Though the Milkmen hit the mainstream hard in '88 with its heavy-rotation MTV video for "Punk Rock Girl," fans point to this album as the band's best. It includes the chatty "Bitchin' Camaro," the un-PC "Takin' Retards to the Zoo" and the PC-in-our-opinion "Right Wing Pigeons," which took Reagan to task before he was sainted. Sara Sherr calls the Milkmen "the band that made me proud to have a Philadelphia accent." "Anyone but [Milkmen lead singer] Joe Genaro," she says, "just sounds like a Royal Auto ad."

22. Dixie Hummingbirds

Complete Recorded Works (1939-1947) / Document, 1997

This South Carolina vocal group made it happen for themselves in Philadelphia, moving here in the '40s, where easy access to venues won them the audience their tight harmonies and impassioned readings deserved. The Hummingbirds have celebrated nearly 75 years as a vocal group, and recently got a high-profile turn on Bob Dylan's Masked and Anonymous soundtrack, but these early cuts are the reason we care. In these gently rocking gospel rhythms lies just enough effervescence to point the way toward pop

music, just enough pain to point the way toward soul music and just enough swing to suggest the bustling bebop of jazz.

23. DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince

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)