INTRUDERS-SAVE THE CHILDREN.
INTRUDERS-SAVE THE CHILDREN.
Although the Intruders weren’t the most successful group Gamble and Huff discovered, they played an important part in Philadelphia International Records’ history. When Gamble and Huff were considering leaving the Cameo Parkway label to form their own label, it was the Intruders that Gamble and Huff chose to risk their money and futures. Once Gamble and Huff left Cameo Parkway, Gamble Records was established, with the Futures their great hope. In 1966, the Intruders released two singles, (We’ll Be) United and Devil WIth An Angel’s Smile, which gave them two minor hit singles. This was the Intruders’ first hit singles since forming in 1961 and started them on a successful musical journey with Gamble and Huff.
Throughout the rest of the sixties, the Intruders enjoyed a series of hit singles, including three top ten US R&B singles, 1967s Together. Then in 1968, the Intruders enjoyed two huge hit singles, Cowboys To Girls, which reached number one in the US R&B Charts and (Love Is Like A) Baseball Game, which reached number four in the US R&B Charts. Building on the success the Intruders were enjoying, were the Three albums they released. 1967s The Intruders Are Together, 1968s Cowboys To Girls and 1970s When We Get Married all charted, with Cowboys To Girls, the most successful. The success Gamble and Huff had enjoyed with the Intruders would prove crucial when they were looking to secure funding for their new label.
Gamble and Huff decided they wanted to form a new label, which would become Philadelphia International Records. So, when CBS were approached about funding Gamble and Huff’s new label, the success they’d enjoyed with the Intruders would prove crucial. An agreement was reached and one of the most important labels in musical history was born… Philadelphia International Records. However, when the Intruders released their fourth album Save The Children in 1973, it wasn’t on Philadelphia International Records, it was on Gamble Records, subsidiary of Philadelphia International Records.
After a three year gap, work began on the Intruders’ fourth album Save The Children. This would the second album featuring new lead singer Bobby Starr, who’d replaced Sam Brown on 1970s When We Get Married. So the lineup of the Intruders that would record Save The Children was Bobby Starr, Eugene “Bird” Daughtry, Phillip “Phil” Terry and Big “Sonny” Edwards.
For Save The Children, eight songs were chosen. This included covers of Gil-Scott Heron’s Save The Children, Paul Simon’s Mother and Child Reunion and Teardrops. Gamble and Huff cowrote I Wanna Know Your Name, To Be Happy Is the Real Thing and Hang On In There. They also cowrote I’ll Always Love My Mama with McFadden and Whitehead. Intruder Phil Terry cowrote Memories Are Here To Stay with T.G. Conway and Theodore Life. These eight tracks became Save The Children, which was recorded at Philly’s Sigma Sound Studios.
Accompanying the Intruders were the classic lineup of M.F.S.B. This included the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section and guitarists Bobby “Electronic” Eli and T.J. Tindall. They were joined by percussionist Larry Washington, vibes virtuoso Vince Montana Jr and violinist Don Renaldo. Lenny Pakula arranged two tracks, Norman Harris one track and Bobby Martin five tracks. Producing Save The Children, were Gamble and Huff.
On the release of Save The Children in 1973, it reached number 133 in the US Billboard 200 and number twelve in the US R&B Charts. Two singles were released from Save The Children. I’ll Always Love My Mama reached number thirty-six in the US Billboard 100 and number six in the US R&B Charts. Over in the UK, it reached number thirty-two. I Wanna Know Your Name then reached number sixty in the US Billboard 200 and number nine in the US R&B Charts. It seemed The Intruders were making steady, but not spectacular process. However, what does the music on Save The Children sound like? That’s what I’ll now tell you.
The title-track Save The Children arranged by Lenny Pakula opens Save The Children. Washes of Hammond organ, piano, Vince Montana Jr’s vibes and the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section combine slowly with percussion. Then at just the right moment, heartfelt harmonies sweep in. They set the scene for Bobby’s impassioned vocal. He leaves space between notes, which prove effective. Punchy harmonies cut in, while bursts of Earl Young’s drums and wistful horns combine as the arrangement grows in power and drama. Throughout the sing, he Intruders’ soulful strains bring out the power and meaning of the lyrics, bringing beauty and soulfulness to a familiar song.
Like the opening track, the cover of Mother and Child Reunion sees the track reinvented. It’s very different. Searing guitars, rasping horns, keyboards and the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section combine fusing jazz and Philly Soul. Strings dance, horns growl as harmonies soar in. Bobby’s vocal is tinged with emotion, with elegant harmonies accompanying. Behind him, the arrangement grows in power, surrounding the Intruders. A myriad of horns, strings, thunderous drums and crystalline guitar unite. They don’t overpower the Intruders. Instead it highlights the quality and soulfulness of Bobby’s lead and the harmonies. Although very different from the original, it’s a compelling take on a classic track.
I Wanna Know Your Name penned by Gamble and Huff and arranged by Norman Harris was the second single released from Save The Children. The tempo drops, but beauty and drama are present. You anticipate something special is unfolding. Norman Harris uses swathes of strings, adds his chiming guitar and piano, setting the scene for Bobby’s tender, pleading vocal. A roll of Earl Young’s drums signals harmonies to sweep in and a Thom Bell influenced horn sound. As Bobby’s vocal grows in power, Vince Montana Jr’s vibes, Norman’s guitar and lush strings play an important part in the arrangement. Melancholy horns and heartfelt harmonies prove the finishing touch to what is the best song on Save The Childen so far…by a long way.
To Be Happy Is the Real Thing, another Gamble and Huff song closes Side One of Save The Children. Arranged by Bobby Martin, one of Philadelphia International’s best arrangers. Just a lone piano and layers of moody strings combine before quickly, the arrangement grows in power. Baker, Harris, Young take charge. Norman Harris’ jazzy guitar chimes and Earl Young’s drums pound. Horns growl and a flourish of piano signals Bobby’s thankful, sincere vocal. Harmonies sweep in and horns growl. Meanwhile, strings celebrate the soulful sound of the Intruders. With flamboyant bursts of piano, lush strings and Norman’s thoughtful guitar joining bursts of horns and thunderous drums, this proves to be the perfect backdrop for this joyful, celebratory slice of Philly Soul.
I’ll Aways Love My Mama, the lead single from Save The Children opens Side Two. After a few bars of the arrangement, you hear a sixties influence. The Baker, Harris, Young rhythm, braying horns and keyboards combine to drive the arrangement along. Soaring, sweeping and sometimes, punchy harmonies and Norman Harris’ guitar combine with keyboards, before Bobby’s enters. It’s full of emotion, as he gives thanks and celebrates his mama. Harmonies sweep in. They too, give thanks and celebrate their memories. Meanwhile the arrangement grows in power, taking on a more Philly Sound. Soon, the song becomes a joyful, celebration, giving thanks to mothers everywhere.
Memories Are Here To Stay sees the tempo slow. Just a melancholy piano combines with dramatic bursts of Earl Young’s drums before strings cascade. They provide the scene for Bobby’s vocal. It’s tinged with sadness and heartache. Behind him, harmonies sweep in, matching Bobby for emotion. The drama in the lyrics is reflected by the arrangement. Bursts of thunderous drums, wistful string and the melanchoiy sound of Lenny Pakula’s Hammond organ and piano see to this. It’s almost as if the band realize this is one of Bobby’s most soul-baring vocals, and as if sympathizing with his plight and plea, produce an equally outstanding performance.
Dramatic stabs of piano and Vince Montana Jr’s vibes join Lenny Pakula’s Hammond organ in creating a dramatic, emotive backdrop as Teardrops reveals its vintage sound. It allows the Intruders to showcase their doo-wop background. Layers of lush strings, a metronomic drumbeat and Vince’s vibes provide the backdrop for Bobby’s heartbroken vocal. Later, occasional bursts of braying horns drift in. Tight, tender, soaring doo-wop harmonies match Bobby for emotion every step of the way. It’s the interplay between Bobby’s lead and the harmonies that make this a delicious slice of vintage music.
Hang On In There, the third Gamble and Huff composition closes Save The Children. It’s another track with an upbeat, positive message. Just piano and congas combine before the arrangement bursts into life. Dramatic bursts of the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section, growling horns and sweeping strings give way to tight, heartfelt harmonies. Vince Montana Jr’s vibes, Norman Harris’ jazzy guitar and lush strings combine as Bobby delivers one of his best vocals. There’s a sincerity and positivity to his voice, which suits the song. Punchy harmonies sweep in, while the arrangement mixes drama, hope and joy. The arrangement screams out made in Philly. Of the four songs on Side Two, this is one of the best and showcases the Intruders’ vocal prowess.
Save The Children saw the Intruders return after a three year gap. The wait had been worthwhile, with Save The Children the best album of their career. It was a mixture of new material and cover versions. Of the cover versions, the Intruders’ soulful reinvention of Gil-Scott Heron’s Save The Children opened the album in style. Mother and Child Reunion was an intriguing take on an old song. Maybe, that was the wrong song for the Intruders. Of the eight songs on Save The Children, it’s the weakest track. Teardrops the third cover version, saw the Intruders revisit their doo wop days, and featured some outstanding vocal interplay. However, it was on the new material that the Intruders flourished.
Of the new songs, the quality shines through. Gamble and Huff’s three compositions showed they were enjoying one of their hottest spells as songwriters. While the sentiment of I’ll Aways Love My Mama, which Gamble and Huff penned with McFadden and Whitehead is admirable, resulting in a quite beautiful song, it maybe wasn’t the best choice for a single. Granted it tugged at heartstrings and paid homage to Kenny Gamble’s mother Ruby, it seemed out of step with musical fashion. Still, it gave the Intruders a hit single. However, maybe other tracks would’ve been more successful. Rather than Save The Children, the celebratory To Be Happy Is the Real Thing or the upbeat, positivity of Hang On In There, would have been better choices. Maybe sentiment got in the way of commercial reality with Save The Children. I Wanna Know Your Name, arranged by Norman Harris, the second single was a much better choice of single.
Overall, Save The Children saw the Intruders return to form after a three year absence. Their fourth album Save The Children had been worth the wait. Given the important part the Intruders had played in the history of Philadelphia International Records, it seems a shame that Save The Children wasn’t released on that label. Instead, Save The Children was released on Gamble Records and remains something of a hidden gems among lovers of Philly Soul. Maybe in 2013, forty years after the release of Save The Children, it’ll be rereleased, allowing a new generation to discover the soulful delights of the Intruders. Standout Tracks: I Wanna Know Your Name, To Be Happy Is the Real Thing, Memories Are Here To Stay and Hang On In There.
INTRUDERS-SAVE THE CHILDREN.