Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012
Golden Gate Groove: The Sound of Philadelphia Live in San Francisco 1973 (Legacy/Philadelphia International Records)
The great and even ordinary soul singers of the '60s and '70s trained before live audiences—often in church. Ironically, the recordings they were known for were polished to a bright gleam in studio settings, making it hard to top the emotional heft when those songs were performed on stage. Such was the challenge at the sole concert pairing the soulful stars of Philadelphia International Records with the label's acclaimed studio band, MFSB, whose members took the opportunity to show off their jazz inclinations during the preludes and interludes. While talented, the instrumental arrangements for hits by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, the Three Degrees, Billy Paul and the O'Jays lacked the solid punch of the records, yet the harmony voices still soared to the rafters as the lead singers reached deep into the heart of the lyrics.