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

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He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper / Jive, 1988

Almost 15 years ago DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince dropped an album backed by the cutting-edge turntablism of Jeff Townes and comic storytelling from the man we now call Will Smith. Slapping West Philadelphia on the hip-hop map with tracks like "Brand New Funk," "Nightmare on My Street" and "Parents Just Don't Understand," the duo reigned supreme as a multiplatinum tag-team. Marking the marriage of hip-hop and pop music, this album makes so many of us long for the good old-fashioned innocence of a sardine-packed house party.

24. Philly Joe Jones

Showcase / Riverside/OJC, 1959

This famed Philadelphia jazz drummer played with every bop superstar, including Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie (see No. 6) and Lionel Hampton, and went on to become a key member of Miles Davis' quintet--a group that also included our No. 1 pick, John Coltrane. His career took him to Paris and New York, but he always came back to his hometown. Showcase is a hard bop set piece with tremendous range, including a rendition of Gershwin's "Gone" that was first half-conceived in the weird Miles Davis/Bill Evans version of the composer's Porgy and Bess. Other highlights include "Gwen," on which Jones plays piano, and "I'll Never Be the Same."

25. DJ Jazzy Jeff

The Magnificent / BBE, 2002

Summer '02 marked the return of one of hip-hop's greatest pioneers as DJ Jazzy Jeff released The Magnificent. Featuring the immense local talent of Pauly Yamz, Baby Blak, Chef Word, Crushall, the Last Emperor, Shawn Stockman and Jill Scott, his A Touch of Jazz studio production squadron melds underground hip-hop and soul without birthing "R&B--rap and bullshit." Jeff also cherry-picked soulmen Raheem, V and Eric Roberson to show what the future of funk is all about. With the exception of the J-Live and Oddisee cuts, The Magnificent can be played from scratch to finish.

26. Nazz

Nazz / Rhino, 1968

Before Todd Rundgren boldly stepped forward with his double-album solo masterpiece (see No. 15), he and three bandmates tried to fuse British-invasion influence and psychedelia in their group named after a Yardbirds song. Rundgren, Robert "Stewkey" Antoni, Carson Van Osten and Thom Mooney were all influenced by the Who, Cream and the Association. In an advertisement for the album, music critic Jon Landau wrote, "The ability of these four young men to create truly original and imaginative ballads, and adorn them with the most melodic and imaginative harmonies since the heyday of the Mamas and the Papas will come as a surprise to anyone who thinks that a band can only play in one way or another."

27. The Intruders

Cowboys to Girls / Gamble, 1968

Though some consider the Intruders one of the lesser known brand names to work its way through the Gamble and Huff hit-making machine, consider these song titles as evidence of their import: "Together," "(We'll Be) United," "(Love Is Like a) Baseball Game" and the coup de grace--"I'll Always Love My Mama." Though the Intruders too often offered up novelty ditties (one song on this album is actually titled "Me Tarzan, You Jane"), they redeemed themselves repeatedly with true Philly heart-bursters like "Sad Girl" and "Love That's Real."

28. Jill Scott

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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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