100 Best Philly Albums of all Time

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Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 18 | Posted Sep. 22, 2004

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38. Sun Ra

Lanquidity / Evidence, 1978

You're sitting there on your couch, watching TV, when suddenly your idiot box is swallowed by a black hole that opens up in the center of the floor and expands, ever outward, till it stops just short of you. Peering over the edge, you see teams of midgets playing roller hockey on the rings of Saturn, and like God, you pronounce it good. After the experience, you suddenly understand the legendary Sun Ra's Lanquidity, a five-track epic that delivers on jazz's improvisational sense of wonder while all the time leavening its fairy dust with the distinct, bluesy pulse of dread. We live in a world of wonder, all right, just inches from the abyss.

39. Uri Caine Trio

Live at the Village Vanguard / Winter and Winter, 2004

Pianist Caine is equally adept at highbrow classical and downtown experimental jazz, his penchant for deep explorations even leading to a recent drum 'n' bass blowout with New York theater buffoons Boomish and Bedrock. This live set with drummer Ben Perowsky and bassist Drew Gress shows the son of Philadelphia University professors dissecting Wayne Shorter's "Nefertiti" and Jimmy Van Heusen's "All the Way" like they're two sides of the same coin. Caine's melodic wit and wondrous fingerings could turn a Britney Spears track into a clever commentary on American banality.

40. Billy Paul

360 Degrees of Paul / Sony, 1975

"Me-ee ay-and Mrs! Mrs. Jones! Mrs. Jones!" stand among the 12 most famous syllables in the history of pop music. That same mixture of confident strings and sodden heartbreak is all over 360 Degrees--a terrific album overshadowed by a towering single. In hindsight Paul's distinct nasal tenor should be declared a national treasure. Listen to the ease with which he slides up the scale and wonder why some of today's pretenders don't hear this and go pump gas for a living.

41. Michael Brecker

Michael Brecker / MCA, 1986

Tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker's performances were already extensively well documented by the time he released this, his solo debut, which was, not surprisingly, extremely cohesive with challenging material that brought out the best of a stellar cast. Brecker's songs are by turns melancholic and vigorous, from Don Grolnick's "Cost of Living" to the hard-bopping "Nothing Personal," which has become a modern standard of sorts. The album is full of memorable solos by the likes of Pat Metheny, Charlie Haden and Kenny Kirkland, but the trophy goes to Brecker himself, who regularly erupts in flowing, zigzagging solos that show why he practically reinvented both the pop and jazz tenor saxophone in the 1970s.

42. Shirley Scott

Soul Shoutin' / Prestige, 1963

She once showed up as the musical director for Bill Cosby's Philly-based show You Bet Your Life, but in the '60s Shirley Scott was a Hammond B3 organ player par excellence who recorded with Stanley Turrentine, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Dexter Gordon. She recorded often for a variety of labels, and Soul Shoutin' comprises some of her best work. Scott's biting tone and percussive style coupled with her deep soul feeling make this reissue a must-have. Standout tracks include "Deep Down Soul" and "Gravy Waltz." With drummer Grassella Oliphant and Major Holley and Earl May on bass, Soul Shoutin' proclaims the queen of organ soul at her peak.

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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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