December 11th 1975 is a significant date in the history Salsoul Records. It was the date that Double Exposure started recording their debut album Ten Percent, which would become their most successful album, and one of Salsoul’s biggest selling albums. Ten Percent which will be released on 17th September 2012 by BBR Records would also feature three Double Exposure classics Everyman, Ten Percent and My Love Is Free. However, Double Exposure weren’t a new group, but were something of veterans of Philadelphia’s music scene. The quartet of James Williams, Joseph Harris, Charles Whittington and Leonard “Butch” Davis had formed United Image in 1966, whilst still at high school. Since then, their career hadn’t gone smoothly. Having released I’ll Keep Coming Back as single for Stax’s sister label Volt in 1971 they’d recorded enough material for an album. Unfortunately, the album was never recorded when the deal fell through. Having no record deal, United Image then released the single African Bump for the independent label Branding Iron Records. Things weren’t looking good until two things happened. United Image decided to change of name to Double Exposure and a chance meeting with an old friend Norman Harris transformed their career. 

Norman Harris had been friendly with Double Exposure since their early days as United Image. Now  the legendary Philadelphia guitarist, songwriter, arranger and producer Norman Harris was running his own label Gold Mind Records, a subsidiary of Salsoul. At Gold Mind, Baker, Harris, Young Productions, the production vehicle of the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section would write, arrange, produce and provide the musicians for the label’s artists. Impressed with Double Exposure Norman recommended Double Exposure to the Cayre brothers, who owned Salsoul. The Cayres liked Double Exposure, so a contract was signed and work would begin on their debut album Ten Per Cent. Before I tell you about Ten Per Cent, I’ll tell you about the background to the album.

For Double Exposure’s debut album Ten Percent, Norman Harris put out a call to his best songwriting contacts. Given this was a newly signed group, Norman wanted the best material he could find. Two of Norman’s Philly based contacts were Alan Felder and T.G. Conway who wrote Ten Percent and My Love Is Free. Alan Felder also cowrote two other tracks, Pick Me with Bruce Gray and Lettie Holden and Everyman (Has To Carry His Own Weight) with Bunny Sigler. Of these four tracks, Ten Percent, My Love Is Free and Everyman (Has To Carry His Own Weight) would become Double Exposure classics. The other three tracks included Gotta Give My Love Away written by James Hendricks and Scott Hawkes while Vince Montana Jr. and Ronnie Walker cowrote Just Can’t Say Hello. Baby I Need Your Loving, penned by Holland, Dozier, Holland was the only cover version on Ten Percent. These seven tracks would be recorded at Philly’s Sigma Sound Studios.

At Philly’s Sigma Sound Studios, the seven tracks that became Double Exposure’s debut album were produced by Baker, Harris, Young Productions. Baker, Harris, Young Productions produced three tracks, with Norman Harris producing two other tracks. The other two tracks were produced by Vince Montana Jr. and Bruce Hawkes  for Baker, Harris, Young Productions. For the recording of Ten Percent, the personnel is like a who’s who of Philadelphia music. This included the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section, guitarists Bobby “Electronic” Eli, T.J. Tindall, vibes virtuoso Vince Montana Jr, while Ron “Have Mercy” Kersey, Clark “Cotton” Kent, T.G. Conway and Bunny Sigler played keyboards. Violinist Don Renaldo was part of a full string and horn section, while Carla Benson, Evette Benton and Barbara Ingram, The Sweethearts of Sigma added backing vocals. WIth the seven tracks recorded, Double Exposure’s debut album Ten Percent ready for release. 

The title-track Ten Percent was chosen as the first single to be released from Double Exposure’s debut album. Before its release, Walter Gibbons was given the title-track Ten Percent to remix. This was because the twelve inch single was favored by DJs, due to its better sound quality and its dance-floor friendly sound. This meant the single would be released on two formats, seven-inch and twelve-inch singles. Would this increase sales of Ten Percent?

With Double Exposure’s debut single Ten Percent released in May 1976, complete with Walter Gibbons remix, it reached number fifty-four in the US Billboard 100, sixty-three in the US R&B Charts and number two in the US Disco Charts. When the album Ten Percent was released in August 1976, it reached number 129 in the US Billboard 200 and number forty in the US R&B Charts. Everyman (Has To Carry His Own Weight) was released in October 1976, number eighty-four in the US R&B Charts and number eight in the US Disco Charts. My Love Is Free was the third and final single released from Ten Percent, released in January 1977. It reached number 104 in the US Billboard 100, forty-four in the US R&B Charts and number fifteen in the US Disco Charts. Overall, the Cayre’s decision to sign Double Exposure proved a successful one, resulting in a hugely successful album and three hit singles. However, what made Ten Percent so successful? That’s what I’ll now tell you.

Opening Double Exposure’s debut album Ten Percent is the lead single and title-track Ten Percent. It was arranged and produced by Norman Harris. Percussion, the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section, rasping horns and Bobby “Electronic” Eli’s sizzling guitars combine before strings cascade and join the arrangement. Straight away, this is a track that could only have been released on one label Salsoul, with funk, Philly Soul and disco uniting. This is The Salsoul Orchestra at their finest, with the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section providing the track’s funky heartbeat. Tight, punchy and hugely soulful harmonies soar above the arrangement, as Jimmy Williams’ impassioned lead vocal enters. Flourishes of piano join the frenzied guitars, pounding drums and percussion. Add in the lush strings, dramatic, punchy blazing horns and that impassioned, emotive vocal and you’ve the recipe for a classic disco track. This is just a stunning slice of delicious disco and truly is Disco Heaven. 

Gotta Give My Love Away which was written by James Hendricks and Scott Hawkes, sees the tempo drop. Arranged and produced by Bruce Hawkes, there’s a real Philly Soul sound as Double Exposure deliver some heartfelt harmonies. As horns growl, strings sweep and swirl and the rhythm section add drama, punchy harmonies are added before Jimmy adds a heartfelt vocal full emotion. He’s accompanied by some beautiful sweeping, tender harmonies, while Earl Young’s drum, growling horns and cascading strings add to the drama and emotion. Meanwhile, Double Exposure get the opportunity to showcase their finely honed harmonies. For three dramatic and emotive minutes, Double Exposure deliver one of the most beautiful songs not just on Ten Per Cent, but any of their three  albums.

Everyman was written by Allan Felder and Bunny Sigler and is arranged and produced by Norman Harris. The track literally bursts joyfully into life. A flourish of piano, the funky Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section, blazing horns, dancing disco strings and Vince Montana’s vibes give way to Jimmy’s lead vocal. He makes the song his own, delivering it with a mixture of power, passion and joy, bringing out the meaning in the lyrics. Meanwhile harmonies sweep in, with the Sweethearts of Sigma augmenting Double Exposure. By now Double Exposure and The Salsoul Orchestra kick loose. Jimmy’s vocal is inspirational and The Salsoul Orchestra’s breathtaking. Bobby Eli adds his trademark guitar sound, horns blaze, strings dance with delight, each playing their part in the track’s joyous, inspirational and feel-good sound. The song has Salsoul written all over it and Norman Harris’ production is absolutely peerless. That’s why this is the greatest song Double Exposure ever recorded. It’s anthemic, uplifting, inspirational and totally joyous. 

Baby I Need Your Loving was written by Holland, Dozier and Holland, with Ron “Have Mercy” Kersey’s arrangement and Baker, Harris, Young’s production giving the song a makeover. Straight away, you realize the difference in the song. Rasping horns, a pounding Baker, Harris, Young, lush, sweeping and swirling strings and chiming guitars give way to the Sweethearts of Sigma’s punchy, testifying harmonies. Then Jimmy lays bare his soul, delivering a gut-wrenchingly heartbreaking vocal. All the time, the funky rhythm section, blazing horns and dancing strings combine with the Sweethearts of Sigma who deliver a harmonic masterclass. Their harmonies are soulfulness personified. Add in Bobby “Electronic” Eli’s guitar solo and Vince Montana Jr,’s vibes and the result is the track that this could I much prefer to the original. It’s punchier, more emotive, hugely soulful and sung with much more feeling.

I Just Can’t Say Hello was arranged and produced by Vince Montana Jr, one of the men who played such a huge part in the Salsoul success story. Flourishes of harp, give way to swathes of lush strings and guitars. Bobby “Electronic” Eli’s wah-wah guitar is contrasted by Norman Harris’ jazzy guitar. When Jimmy’s vocal enters, it’s heartfelt and sung with emotion and feeling. He’s accompanied by subtle harmonies, as layers of strings are at the heart of the arrangement, while the song reminds me of Gladys Knight and The Pips’ You’re the Best Thing That Happened To Me. With Jimmy’s voice growing in power and emotion, Vince’s arrangement compliments it, as the strings, harmonies and guitars melt together beautifully, to create a beautiful ballad that can’t fail to move you and tug at your heartstrings and emotions.

Produced by Baker, Harris, Young is Double Exposure’s My Love Is Free, sees the tempo increase and a Double Exposure classic unfold. Drums, shakers, swirling, sweeping strings, guitars and flourishes of keyboards, give way to Jimmy’s vocal. The rest of the group contribute punchy, backing harmonies, while the arrangement has made in Philadelphia stamped all over it. With rasping horns, cascading strings, percussion and the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section providing the track’s pounding, funky heartbeat. Jimmy’s powerful, impassioned pleas are augmented by soulful harmonies and show just how polished and professional Double Exposure by the time they joined Salsoul. Combine the vocal with the dancing disco strings, chiming guitars, blazing horns and Baker, Harris, Young at their finest and this is a musical marriage made in heaven, one where drama and emotion unite, creating a timeless disco classic.

Closing Ten Percent is Pick Me arranged by T.G. Conway and produced by Baker, Harris, Young. It’s the perfect song to close the album, with its dramatic soulful introduction. Bursts of the pounding Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section, flourishes of strings, Vince Montana Jr’s vibes and growling horns give way to Jimmy Williams powerful, passionate pleas. He vamps his way though the arrangement, with tight, soulful harmonies, keyboards, swathes of strings and thunderous dramatic drums accompanying him. You can’t fault Jimmy Williams’ vocal and it’s as if he’s been waiting for this opportunity to showcase his considerable vocal talents. Given the chance to do so, he gives everything he has, while the rest of Double Exposure and The Salsoul Orchestra play their part in the track’s sound and success. Not only does this close Ten Percent on a high, but leaves you wanting more, so you press play again.

After nine years of struggling to make a commercial breakthrough, it took a change of name to Double Exposure and a chance meeting with Norman Harris to transform the career of James Williams, Joseph Harris, Charles Whittington and Leonard “Butch” Davis. Less than a year after signing to Gold Mind Records, Double Exposure found themselves with three hit singles in Ten Percent, My Love Is Free and Everyman (Has To Carry His Own Weight) and in Ten Percent, one of Salsoul’s biggest selling albums. Thirty-six years after its release, and it’s patently obvious why Ten Percent was such a successful album. Each of its seven tracks are of the highest quality, with Norman Harris’ songwriting contacts doing him proud. With three tracks that would become not just Double Exposure classics, but Salsoul classics My Love Is Free and Everyman (Has To Carry His Own Weight). Similarly, Baker, Harris, Young Production’s collection of arrangers, producers and The Salsoul Orchestra played a huge part in Ten Percent’s success. The Salsoul Orchestra included some of the best musicians of the time, including Baker, Harris, Young, Vince Montana, Bobby “Electronic” Eli, T.J. Tindall, Vince Montana Jr, Ron “Have Mercy” Kersey and the Sweethearts of Sigma adding backing vocals. Each of these musicians, arrangers, producers and songwriters played their part in making Double Exposure’s debut album such a critically acclaimed and commercially successful album. Of all the albums Salsoul Records would release, Double Exposure’s Ten Percent which will be released on 17th September 2012 by BBR Records is a true classic and is the best album Double Exposure released. Unfortunately, before Double Exposure could release the followup to Ten Percent, Double Exposure discovered a problem that would derail their career for two years.

Double Exposure found alleged discrepancies regarding their bookings and management expenses. Salsoul didn’t want to start recording another until album until the problems were resolved. So the momentum Double Exposure built up after the success of Tenpercent wasn’t built upon. Once the problems were resolved, Double Exposure were able to get back to doing what they were good at, making music. By then, Double Exposure were almost Salsoul’s forgotten men. So when Double Exposure released Fourplay in 1978, it failed to replicate the success of their debut album Ten Percent. After Fourplay, Double Exposure would only release one further album, 1979s Locker Room. While the quality of music was still there, commercial success eluded Double Exposure. Although they never again reached the heights of Ten Percent, Double Exposure will always be remembered for their classic debut album Ten Percent, one of Salsoul’s biggest selling albums. Standout Tracks: Ten Percent, My Love Is Free, Baby I Need Your Loving and Everyman (Has To Carry His Own Weight). 


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