This year has been a good vintage for anyone who loves Philly Soul. First came the release of Philadelphia International: The Re-Edits, then came the release of Philadelphia International Classics: The Tom Moulton Remixes. Then just two weeks ago came the Magnus Opus, the Philadelphia International: 40th Anniversary Box Set, ten discs of Philly’s finest music. On each of these compilations was the First Lady of Philadelphia International Records Jean Carn, who released a quartet of albums between 1976 and 1981. Jean’s career at Philadelphia International Records started with 1976s Jean Carn, with the follow-up Happy To Be With You released in 1978. After a gap of eighteen months came Jean’s third album When I Found You Love. Sadly, neither Jean Carn, nor Happy To Be With You had given Jean the commercial success her talent deserved. For her third album, there would be a change in the personnel working on When I Found You Love. Unlike her two previous albums, Gamble and Huff played no part in either writing or producing When I Found You Love. Instead, When I Found You Love was written and produced by various songwriting and production teams at Philadelphia International. How would this affect When I Found You Love?. That’s what I’ll tell you, after I’ve told you about the background to When I Found You  Love, and the music on the album.

Among the songwriting and production teams who worked When I Found You Love were Linda Conlon, Jerry Butler and John Usry Jr. They cowrote two tracks, with Jerry and John producing the two tracks. Dexter Wansel wrote and produced What’s On Your Mind and Give It Up, co-producing two other tracks. The O’Jays’ lead singer Eddie Levert cowrote Intro/My Love Don’t Come Easy with Dennis Williams and Mike Jackson, co-producing the track with Dennis Williams. Cynthia Biggs, Ted Wortham and Gary Gilbert cowrote Lonely Girl In A Cold Cold World, which Theodore Wortham, Cynthia and Dexter Wansel produced. Jack Faith arranged and produced All I Really Need Is You, a track Janice Gugliuzza. These tracks would be recorded at Philly’s Sigma Sound Studios, the scene of all Philadelphia International Records recordings.

With the original M.F.S.B. having headed to New York to become the Salsoul Orchestra, so many familiar faces had been replaced. Instead of the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section, now included variously, bassists Charles Collins, Jimmy Williams and Steve Green, guitarists Dennis Harris, Darnell Jordan and Roland Chambers, while the drummers included David Williams, Keith Benson and Quinton Joseph. Dexter Wansel and John Usry Jr played keyboards, while David Cruise and Ricky Hinds added percussion. Among the few remaining familiar faces were Don Renaldo’s strings and horns, with the Sweethearts of Sigma adding backing vocals. Together, they accompanied Jean Carn as she recorded the eight tracks at Sigma Sound Studios. Would the resulting album When I Found You Love see a change in Jean Carn’s fortunes? 

Although two singles were released from When I Found Love, neither When I Found You Love, nor My Love Don’t Come Easy found chart success. This didn’t auger well for the release of On the release of When I Found Love in 1980. Sadly, it peaked at number forty-two in the US R&B Charts, while reaching number forty-two in the US Jazz Charts. Adding to Jean’s woes, Philadelphia International decided not to release the album in the UK, where Jean had a legion of fans. This was and the commercial failure of When I Found Love was hugely disappointing for Jean, especially given the quality of the music, which I’ll now tell you about.

Opening When I Find You Love is the title-track, written by Linda Conlon, Jerry Butler and John Usry Jr, while Jerry Butler and John Usry Jr. produced the track. It’s a track with a slow, spacious sound, where Jean demonstrates just how beautiful, emotive and powerful her vocal is. A piano, lush strings and rasping horns accompany Jean, her vocal starting slow and almost tender, growing in power and passion. Later, the track takes on a jazz-tinged sound. A sultry saxophone drifts above the arrangement, before the strings, horns and rhythm section combine to create a quicker, fuller arrangement. However, good as the arrangement from John Usry Jr. is and it’s very good, it’s Jean’s impassioned emotive vocal that steals the show.

Intro/My Love Don’t Come Easy a saxophone drifts wistfully above the arrangement,  before pounding drums, cascading strings and jazzy guitars drift in. Next to join are punchy, rasping horns, whose disappearance signal the arrival of Jean’s breathy, sultry vocal. From there, a contemporary dance-floor friendly track reveals its many charms. The Sweethearts of Sigma add tender backing vocals, while strings dance, horns growl and the rhythm section add the track’s dance-floor friendly heartbeat. Later, Jean unleashes a soaring vocal, augmented by the Sweethearts of Sigma. By now you’ve been won over by what is a timeless dance-floor track that’s totally irresistible.

Start the Fire was written by William Pugh, who co-produced the track with Dennis Williams, who arranged the track. Vibes, rasping horns and the rhythm section open the track, with the punchy drums signaling the arrival of Jean’s tender, impassioned vocal. Strings glide gracefully in, their lush sound the perfect accompaniment to Jean’s vocal. Backing vocalists tenderly accompany Jean, before the vibes and braying horns combine during a solo. Towards the end of the track, Jean decides to unleash not just a powerful vocal, but one drenched in emotion and passion. This proves the perfect way to end a track.

On All I Really Need Is You Jean’s vocal sounds just like Karen Carpenter’s. The similarity is uncanny. Even the arrangement from Jack Faith who also produces the track adds to this similarity. He adds swathes of lush strings, keyboards and a rhythm section that play with a subtlety. Even the horns have a subtlety that’s perfect for the track. Nothing is allowed to overpower what is an outstanding vocal from Jean, set against a classic Jack Faith arrangement.

The tempo rises on Lonely Girl In A Cold Cold World a track penned by the songwriting team of Cynthia Biggs, Ted Wortham and Gary Gilbert. It’s very different from the previous track, arranged with the dance-floor in mind. Here, the Sweethearts of Sigma add tight soaring harmonies, while strings cascade, horns blaze and the rhythm section drive the track along. Throughout the track, the arrangement sweeps and swirls, with the tempo rising and falling. Later, there are several breaks where jazz-tinged guitars take centre-stage, while Jean scats, with the Sweethearts of Sigma feeding off her. Together, they encourage each other to greater heights. Much as I enjoy these breaks, my only concern is that they spoil the flow of the track for dancers. Apart from that concern, this is a track that shows how versatile a singer Jean Carn is, switching from soul to jazz within the same song seamlessly.

Pounding drums, washes of synths and keyboards accompany Jean as What’s On Your Mind? gets underway. Quickly, the tempo rises and rises, with Jean transformed into a disco diva. Layers of shimmering strings, a pounding rhythm section and keyboards plus the Sweethearts of Sigma accompany Jean on this post disco track. It’s a track with Dexter Wansel’s name written all over it, given its heavy use of keyboards. This gives the track a sound that’s not quite disco, but not quite boogie. Having said that, it’s a compelling, dramatic post-disco track.

Give It Up is the second track Dexter Wansel arranged, wrote and produced track. This track is quite different, there’s more space in the funky arrangement. The Sweethearts of Sigma accompany Jean’s sassy, confident vocal. Meanwhile a pounding rhythm section, flourishes of guitars, keyboards, synths and rasping horns provide the backdrop for Jean’s vocal. Again, Dexter uses synths and keyboards heavily, but here, it seems to work better. Similarly, Jean’s vocal seems to sit better in the mix. Maybe the bigger part played by the Sweethearts of Sigma helps, as this brings out the best in Jean. They seem to help Jean reach greater heights, which she does here, delivering her vocal joyously and confidently.

Often, I’ve remarked how sometimes, the best track is kept until last on an album. This is quite definitely the case on When I Find Love, with Was That All It Was the album’s real standing track. Of the album’s eight tracks, this is a Philly classic. The rhythm section and percussion combine, before synths reverberate above the arrangement. Then comes Jean’s voice, sounding disillusioned and full regret. Quickly, strings cut in, accompanying Jean’s now emotive vocal. Meanwhile, the rhythm section and percussion provide the track’s classy heartbeat. Later, horns growl sympathetically as Jean delivers one of her best vocals on what is easily, the album’s best track and one of Jean’s finest releases for Philadelphia International Records.

After a gap of eighteen months, Jean Carn returned with When I Find You Love, her third album for Philadelphia International Records. Her first two albums Jean Carn and Happy To Be With hadn’t found the commercial success that their quality deserved. Jean must have been hugely disappointed and frustrated. Adding to her disappointment was when Gamble and Huff, who’d written and produced much of her first two albums, leaving writing and production to Philadelphia International Records’ songwriting and production teams. Even thought Gamble and Huff played no part in When I Find You Love, the end-result was an album full of some quality music. The music was a combination of dance-floor friendly music and ballads, which allowed Jean to demonstrate just why she was the First Lady of Philadelphia International Records. She was one of the best female vocalists on the label, and the four albums she recorded for Philadelphia International Records contain many a hidden gem. Among the highlights of When I Find You Love, are When I Find You Love, Intro/My Love Don’t Come Easy and the highlight of the album Was That All It Was. To me, that’s one of the best tracks Jean Carn ever recorded for Philadelphia International Records. Even today, thirty-two years after its release, Was That All It Was is a timeless classic, blessed with a contemporary sound. On All I Really Need Is You, arranged and produced by Jack Faith, Jean’s vocal sounds uncannily like Karen Carpenter’s. It’s the only track on the album where this similarity is noticeable. Overall, there aren’t any poor tracks on When I Find You Love, an album where Jean mixes jazz, Philly Soul, funk and a post-disco sound, with the help of some of Philadelphia International Records songwriting and production teams, and M.F.S.B. Mk 2. Together, they helped Jean create When I Found Love, a compelling combination of dance-floor friendly tracks and heartfelt ballads, which is a true hidden gem of an album . Standout Tracks: When I Find You Love, Intro/My Love Don’t Come Easy, Lonely Girl In A Cold Cold World and Was That All It Was. 


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