THE BEST REISSUES OF 2012-PART 2.

THE BEST REISSUES OF 2012-PART 2.

The first six reissues of 2012 I reviewed were released between February and August 2012. My first choice from The Best Reissues of 2012-Part 2 was also released in August, before September proved to be one of the best months of 2012 for rereleases.

BILLY PAUL-360 DEGREES OF BILLY PAUL.

Sometimes, an artist releases a single that becomes a huge commercial success and regardless of whatever else they release, they’re forever be known as the artist that recorded “that single.” For Billy Paul, ever since he released Me and Mrs Jones as a single back in October 1972, he’s become synonymous with that one song. Whatever else Billy recorded, and he recorded so much fantastic music during his career, people always remember Billy for Me and Mrs Jones. It went on to give Billy a dual number one single, in both the US Billboard 100 and US R&B Charts. Spurred on by the success of Me and Mrs Jones, when 360 Degrees of Billy Paul was released in November 1972, the album reached number one in the US R&B Charts and number seventeen in the US Billboard 200. This helped launch Philadelphia International Records, and in the process, gave the label its first male superstar. For Billy Paul, 360 Degrees of Billy Paul, which was rereleased in August 2012, by BBR Records, transformed his career. Billy Paul was no overnight star. He’d paid his dues, releasing three previous albums, to little success. However, nothing like the success he enjoyed with 360 Degrees of Billy Paul.

Billy Paul’s 360 Degrees of Billy Paul is best described as a timeless classic, where you hear every side of Billy Paul’s music. He seamlessly flits from the dramatic, socially conscious lyrics of Brown Baby to the despondency of I’m Just A Prisoner, before transforming It’s Too Late into a jazz tinged and emotionally charged track. Then on Me and Mrs Jones Billy Paul becomes a soul balladeer, before the defiance of Am I Black Enough For You. On Let’s Stay Together, the transformation of the song is quite incredible, as Billy and M.F.S.B. produce a spacious, understated version of Al Green’s classic, before making Elton John’s pedestrian Your Song swings, complete with gospel tinged backing vocals. Closing 360 Degrees of Billy Paul is Billy’s jazzy interpretation of I’m Gonna Make It This Time, which proved to be a forecast of the fame and fortune that was about to come Billy’s way. Having become a worldwide star, the icing on the cake was when Billy won a Grammy Award Me and Mrs Jones. After three albums where fame had eluded Billy Paul, his career and life was transformed. So was Gamble and Huff’s nascent label Philadelphia International Records, which went on to become one of the biggest and most influential labels in the history of music. As for Billy Paul, he continued to release a series of successful albums, but none of these albums ever matched the success of 360 Degrees of Billy Paul, timeless Philly Soul classic.

BILLY PAUL-360 DEGREES OF BILLY PAUL.

GQ-DISCO NIGHTS.

After Roberta Flack helped GQ get an audition at Arista Records, Larkin Arnold signed them to Arista Records. Soon, the lives of four musical veterans were forever changed. GQ released their debut single Disco Nights (Rock Freak) in December 1978. It reached number one in the US R&B Charts, selling over-one million copies. GQ were no overnight sensation. Instead, the success GQ were now enjoying was the result of a ten-year musical journey. The road GQ had travelled had been long and twisty. While other bands would’ve quit, GQ’s perseverance was rewarded. Three months after releasing Disco Nights (Rock Freak), GQ released their debut album Disco Nights, which was rereleased in September 2012 by BBR Records. Disco Nights become GQ’s most successful album, reaching number thirteen in the US Billboard 200 and number two in the US R&B Charts.

From the opening bars of Disco Nights (Rock Freak) to the closing notes of GQ’s deliciously, soulful cover of Billy Stewart’s Do I Love You, you’re spellbound by the quality of music. Almost seamlessly, GQ could switch things around. They’re just as comfortable playing jazz, disco or the Philly soul of Make My Dreams A Reality. GQ’s debut album Disco Nights was their Magnus Opus, their most successful and critically acclaimed album, an album which is worthy of being described as a disco classic, and the perfect soundtrack to every one of your Disco Nights.

GQ-DISCO NIGHTS.

M.F.S.B.-LOVE IS THE MESSAGE.

When people refer to M.F.S.B. as Philadelphia International Records’ house-band, they’re doing M.F.S.B. a great disservice. Yes, M.F.S.B. played on every one of the label’s successful albums. This includes Billy Paul’s 360 Degrees of Billy Paul, The O’Jays Backstabbers, Ship Ahoy and Family Reunion, Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes’ I Miss You, Black and Blue and Wake Up Everybody or The Three Degrees’ The Three Degrees and International. However, M.F.S.B. were also a hugely successful group in their own right. 

Between their 1972 and 1980 M.F.S.B. released eight albums for Philadelphia International Records. M.F.S.B.’s recording career started with their eponymous debut album M.F.S.B. Then in December 1973, M.F.S.B. released their seminal album Love Is The Message, which featured the classic, number one single TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia) which featured The Three Degrees’ vocals. Before I tell you about M.F.S.B.’s sophomore album Love Is The Message, which was released by BBR Records in September 2012.

Of the eight albums M.F.S.B. released, Love Is The Message wasn’t just the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful, but their seminal album. Describing Love Is The Message as a classic doesn’t do the album justice. Instead, Love Is The Message is more like a Magnus Opus, and a demonstration of the combined talents and versatility of M.F.S.B. Whether it was Philly Soul, jazz, funk or even big band music, M.F.S.B. were just as comfortable playing it. M.F.S.B. could switch seamlessly between genres, and on Bitter Sweet, between time signatures. 

M.F.S.B. featured some of Philly’s finest musicians, including the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section, Bobby “Electronic” Eli, Vince Montana Jr and Larry Washington. Given the combined talents of these musicians, it’s no surprise M.F.S.B’s sophomore album, Love Is the Message sold over one-million copies. 

M.F.S.B.-LOVE IS THE MESSAGE.

DOUBLE EXPOSURE-TEN PERCENT.

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 in September 2012 by BBR Records. It featured three Double Exposure classics Everyman, Ten Percent and My Love Is Free. 

Before signing to Salsoul, Double Exposure’s career had stalled. Then when they met an old friend, Norman Harris their luck changed. Guitarist, songwriter, arranger and producer Norman Harris was now 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. Soon, a contract was singed and work would begin on their debut album Ten Per Cent.

With Norman Harris and his Philly friends writing, arranging, producing and playing on Ten Percent, it’s no surprise Double Exposure’s Gold Mild debut was so successful. Indeed, Ten Percent was a featured three hit singles and became one of Gold Mind’s most commercially successful albums. Each tracks on Ten Percent is Of the highest quality. My Love Is Free and Everyman would all become Salsoul classics. Much of the success was down to Norman Harris’ team of songwriters, arrangers, producers. Similarly The Salsoul Orchestra and the Sweethearts of Sigma played their part making Double Exposure’s debut album Ten Percent such a critically acclaimed and commercially successful album. Of all the albums Double Exposure released, Ten Percent is a true classic.

DOUBLE EXPOSURE-TEN PERCENT.

THE SALSOUL ORCHESTRA-THE SALSOUL ORCHESTRA.

During 1975, many of the original lineup of M.F.S.B. were locked in a dispute with Gamble and Huff over many. When the dispute couldn’t be resolved, M.F.S.B. left Philadelphia International Records, their destination Salsoul Records, where they became The Salsoul Orchestra. Between 1975 and 1982, The Salsoul Orchestra would release twelve albums. Following the success of their debut single was Salsoul Hustle, The Salsoul Orchestra released their debut album, 1975s The Salsoul Orchestra, which sold over one-million copies.

Gamble and Huff’s loss proved to be the Cayre brother’s gain. It was like an outpouring of creativity. Many of the musicians were experienced songwriters, arrangers and producers. This included the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section, Vince Montana and Bobby “Electronic” Eli. Each of these musicians played their part in the million-selling debut album. Although it sold over one-million copies in the US, it wasn’t certified gold, as Salsoul weren’t certified by the Record Industry Association of America.

Although The Salsoul Orchestra almost came about by accident, Ken Cayre must have given thanks to the musical Gods that he met Vince Montana Jr. Vince brought about Ken’s vision of Philly Soul fused with a Latin salsa influence. Through Vince Montana Jr, Ken Cayre got his orchestra and the Philadelphia based musicians he so admired. With the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section creating the album’s heartbeat and Philly legends like Bobby “Electronic” Eli, T.J. Tindall, Larry Washington and the Sweethearts of Sigma all featuring on The Salsoul Orchestra it’s no wonder the album was such a huge commercial success. During the eight tracks on The Salsoul Orchestra, disco, funk, jazz, Latin music and the Philly Sound were fused seamlessly creating a classic album. In the process, it launched Salsoul as a label, a label that would become the greatest of the disco era and one of the most important in musical history. The music on The Salsoul Orchestra is timeless, imaginative and innovative and gave birth to a new wave of disco orchestras. None of them could match The Salsoul Orchestra in full flight.

THE SALSOUL ORCHESTRA-THE SALSOUL ORCHESTRA.

FIRST CHOICE-DELUSIONS.

By the time First Choice signed to Norman Harris’ Gold Mind Records, they’d released three albums, 1973s Armed and Extremely Dangerous, 1974s The Player and 1976s So Let Us Entertain You. When So Let Us Entertain You didn’t replicate the success of First Choice’s first two albums, their career needed a boost. For that, they turned to Norman Harris, who was now running his own label Gold Mind Records, a subsidiary of Salsoul Records. First Choice signed to Gold Mind and  work began on their fourth album, Delusions, in February 1977. 

To revive the career of the three members of First Choice, Rochelle Fleming, Annette Guest and Joyce Jones were joined by cast of Philly’s greatest songwriters, arrangers, producers and musicians. Producing Delusions would be Baker, Harris, Young through their production vehicle Baker, Harris, Young Productions. Not only was First Choice’s career revived, but resulted in two stonewall disco classics Dr. Love and Let No Man Put Asunder. 

On the release of Delusions in August 1977, First Choice’s career was back on track. With Baker, Harris, Young’s guidance, First Choice’s first album for their new label Delusions, proved to be the most successful album of their career. It contained  two disco classics, Dr. Love and Let No Man Put Asunder. There’s much more to Delusions than just two tracks. Other tracks see First Choice revisit their soulful roots, and feature some of their best vocals on Delusions. On Indian Giver and Gamble On Love Rochelle delivers some of her most emotive, heartfelt and soulful vocals. During Delusions, First Choice flit seamlessly between disco, Philly Soul, funk and pop, demonstrating their versatility. Regardless of the musical genre, First Choice are equally comfortable. Delusions, which was rereleased by BBR Records in September 2012, was not just First Choice’s Magnus Opus, but featured two timeless Salsoul classics Dr. Love and Let No Man Put Asunder.

FIRST CHOICE-DELUSIONS.

September 2012 proved to be a good year for anyone who loved Philly Soul and disco. Reissues of albums from Billy Paul, M.F.S.B, The Salsoul Orchestra and Double Exposure were all released. An added bonus was the release of GQ’s Disco Nights, with the classic single Disco Nights (Rock Freak). While each of these album proved to be commercially successful, my final installment of The Best Reissues of 2012 contains albums which although they failed commercially, contained some innovative, critically acclaimed music.

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