THE INTRUDERS-ENERGY OF LOVE.

THE INTRUDERS-ENERGY OF LOVE.

Throughout The Intruders’ career, Gamble and Huff had played an important role in guiding their career. Similarly, The Intruders had proved important in the rise and rise of Gamble and Huff. Indeed, the success Gamble and Huff enjoyed with The Intruders had proved crucial in CBS backing their new label Philadelphia International Records. 

By 1974, The Intruders had released four albums for Gamble Records, which was now a subsidiary of Philadelphia International Records. Their debut was 1967s The Intruders Are Together, with Cowboys To Girls following in 1968. 1970s When We Get Married marked the debut of new lead singer Bobby Starr, who’d replaced Sam Brown. Then, there was a three year gap between albums.

When Save The Children was released in 1973, Sam Brown returned to The Intruders’ lineup. By then, Philadelphia International Records was one of the the most successful labels in America. However, it wasn’t on Philadelphia International Records that Save The Children was released. Instead, it was released on Gamble Records. While Save The Children stalled at number 133 in the US Billboard 200, it reached number twelve in the US R&B Charts. Even better, it featured two top ten US R&B singles, I’ll Always Love My Mama and I Wanna Know Your Name. Despite this success, The Intruders’ fifth album, Energy Of Love, wouldn’t be released on Philadelphia International Records. Instead, Energy Of Love was relegated to Gamble and Huff’s new label T.S.OP. Maybe Gamble and Huff felt that The Intruders couldn’t replicate the success of their two biggest singles, Cowboys To Girls and (Love Is Like A) Baseball Game. Sadly, that wasn’t to be. Energy Of Love would not just mark the end of The Intruders and Gamble and Huff’s partnership, but the last that was heard of The Intruders for eleven long years.

With The Intruders now set to release their fifth album, but their first on Philadelphia International Records, work began on Energy Of Love. Gamble and Huff contributed  Energy Of Love, A Nice Girl Like You, Lonely Lonely and Be On Time. William DeVaughan wrote Be Thankful For What You Got, John Davis penned Everyone’s A Star and Cary Gilbert and Theodore Life cowrote Plain Ol’ Fashioned Girl. There were also cover of Rainy Days and Mondays, Marvin Gaye’s Jan, Smokey Robinson’s What’s Easy For Two Is Hard For One. These ten tracks were recorded by The Intruders with M.FS.B. providing the musical backdrop at Philly’s Sigma Sound Studios.

At Sigma Sound Studios, for the recording of Energy Of Love, the four members of The Intruders, Sam Brown, Eugene “Bird” Daughtry, Phillip “Phil” Terry and Big “Sonny” Edwards were joined by M.F.S.B. The lineup of M.F.S.B. included the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section and guitarists Bobby “Electronic” Eli. They were joined by percussionist Larry Washington, vibes virtuoso Vince Montana Jr and violinist Don Renaldo. Arrangers included Bruce Hawkes and Bobby Martin, while producers included Vince Montana Jr, John Davis and Gamble and Huff.

On the release of Energy Of Love in 1974, it reached just number forty-one in the US R&B Charts. The lead single was A Nice Girl Like You, which reached number twenty-one in the US R&B Charts. Rainy Days and Mondays then reached number eighty-one in the US R&B Charts in 1975. Plain Ol’ Fashioned Girl then failed to chart. Energy Of Love proved to be The Intruders final album with Gamble and Huff. Just as Energy Of Love had marked their debut on the main Philadelphia International Records, it also marked their farewell. However, did The Intruders leave Philadelphia International Records on a soulful high? That’s what I’ll now tell you.

Energy Of Love opens with the Gamble and Huff penned and produced title-track. Straight away, it has a classic Gamble and Huff sound. It’s also packed with social comment and romance. The social comment comes in the shape of the energy crisis. With a mass of lush strings, waves of Hammond organ, blazing horns, percussion and Baker, Harris, Young providing the heartbeat, the scene is set for Sam Brown’s heartfelt vocal. Equally heartfelt harmonies sweep in, strings sweep and horns kick. Sam’s vocal veers between tender, weary and frustrated to joyous and ironic. Norman Harris adds his trademark guitar, harmonies soar and the horns ensure the arrangement swings deliciously along.

Rainy Days and Mondays had been covered by many artists before The Intruders. Arranged and produced by Vince Montana Jr, an understated arrangement unfolds. Vince sprinkles his vibes, lush strings sweep in, horns rasp and Norman Harris adds his jazz-tinged guitar. Sam delivers wistful, vocal, while subtle, but dramatic and soulful harmonies cascade.  Later, a sultry saxophone adds the perfect accompaniment to Sam’s melancholy vocal  By then, The Intruders with the help of M.F.S.B. and Vince Montana Jr, breath new life, meaning and beauty into a familiar track.

A Nice Girl Like You is the second Gamble and Huff track, arranged by Bobby Martin. Earl Young’s drums pound, strings cascade and horns growl, before Vince Montana Jr’s vibes accompany Sam’s half-spoken vocal. Tinged with regret and sadness, he delivers a heartbreaking vocal, with punchy, soaring harmonies for company. By now, Gamble and Huff have worked their magic. The arrangement has Philly Soul written all over. Heartbreak, emotion and drama, this track has all this and more.

Jan was written by Marvin Gaye for this then girlfriend. Here, Jack Faith arranges the track and Bruce Hawkes produces it. The Intruders give this track from Motor City a Philly makeover. This means a backdrop of lush strings, wistful, then blazing horns, tight and soulful harmonies. Sam lays bare his soul, while Earl Young adds bursts of drama to the string drenched arrangement. Philly Soul and elements of vintage jazz are combined. Unlike so many cover versions, this remake of Marvin Gaye’s original is even more soulful and emotive than the original ever was.

Be Thankful For What You Got closes Side One of Energy Of Love. From the opening bars, you realize something special is unfolding. You’re drawn in, captivated by the fusion of Philly Soul and funk. Norman Harris and Vince Montana Jr combine with growling horns. Baker, Harris, Young combine with tough, funky keyboards as Sam’s joyous, ironic vocal enters. Urgent harmonies soar in, while M.F.S.B. kick loose. Horns kick, strings dance and Norman Harris gives a masterclass on guitar. Spurred on, Sam and the other Intruders deliver the definitive version of this classic track.

What’s Easy For Two Is Hard For One was originally recorded by Mary Wells. It doesn’t just open Side Two of Energy Of Love, but ensures it bursts into life. Baker, Harris, Young provide the dramatic heartbeat, while horns growl and kick. Sam delivers a heartfelt vocal whose influence and soulful roots are in the late fifties and early sixties. Harmonies sweep in, joining the strings and horns, in complimenting Sam’s vocal. By then, Baker, Harris, Young provide a funky, hustle sound, while the rest of the arrangement has a vintage, soul sound. This captivating combination of influences results in a sweet, soulful track.

After working with Gamble and Huff since the mid-sixties, Lonely Lonely was the last Gamble and Huff song The Intruders recorded. They didn’t realize this when they cut this M.O.R. influenced-track. Arranged by Bobby Martin, featuring the classic lineup of M.F.S.B. and written, arranged and produced by Gamble and Huff, Lonely Lonely proved a heartbreaking, but soulful parting of the ways.

Everyone’s A Star was written, arranged and produced by John Davis, who later found fame with John Davis’ Monster Orchestra. It would include many former members of M.F.S.B. Here, John’s arrangement has a laid back sound, allowing The Intruders to showcase their sweet, charismatic harmonies. They feed off Sam, and with M.F.S.B. providing the backdrop, it seems Everyone’s A Star.

Plain Ol’ Fashioned Girl sees The Intruders rail against city women, preferring old-fashioned country girls. Swathes of strings cascade, horns growl and kick, while Baker, Harris, Young provide the arrangement’s heartbeat. Having set the scene, Sam’s emotive, impassioned vocal enters. Cooing harmonies melt soulfully. They sit beautifully with the string-laden backdrop. Later, a blazing horn solo adds to the emotion, as Sam pleads, begs and lays bare his soul and loneliness.

Be On Time, with its understated introduction closes Energy Of Love. That’s something of a teaser and curveball. Just Norman Harris’ guitar and lush strings combine. Then when Earl Young’s thunderous drums pound, percussion and swathes of strings swirl. Sam’s tender, needy vocal is accompanied by tight, urgent harmonies. Flourishes of keyboards, dancing strings, growling horns and a hustle backbeat join soaring harmonies. Together, they provide a Philly Soul backdrop for Sam’s emotive vocal. Soulful, dramatic and laden with hooks, this enchanting slice of sweet Philly Soul seems a fitting may for The Intruders to say farewell to Gamble and Huff and Philadelphia International Records.

While Energy Of Love failed to match the success of their previous album Save The Children, or their early albums, it wasn’t because of the quality of their music. Quite the opposite. Energy Of Love, like Save The Children and their first two albums, featured the classic lineup of The Intruders. During the ten songs that comprise Energy Of Love, The Intruders combine new songs and cover versions. With the cover versions, they breath new life and meaning into them. Rainy Days and Mondays and Jan are proof of this. Of the new songs, Gamble and Huff contributed four classy tracks. They were tailor-made for The Intruders vocal and harmonic talents. Accompanying The Intruders were the classic lineup of M.F.S.B. with some of the greatest musicians of the seventies. So, Energy Of Love featured The Intruders, a talented group at the height of their powers, delivering some great material, backed by the greatest house-band of the seventies, M.F.S.B. What went wrong then?

There are several explanations for the relative commercial failure of Energy Of Love.  There were many more Philly Soul groups vying for the public’s attention. The Spinners, Blue Magic, The Stylistics, The O’Jays and Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes were all The Intruders’ contemporaries and rivals. Then we need to ask whether Energy Of Love was promoted heavily enough? Or were the wrong singles were released from Energy Of Love? It could’ve been that The Intruders’ music was no longer as fashionable? After all, musical tastes were changing. By 1975, disco was about to become the most popular musical genre. While Philly Soul was still popular, disco was about to steal Philly Soul’s crown.

So, after Energy Of Love, The Intruders were dropped by T.S.OP.  Then a year later, they split up in 1975. Nothing more was heard from The Intruders until 1984,  when Eugene Daughtry put together a new lineup of The Intruders. They released Who Do You Love in 1985. However, the new lineup of The Intruders featured no other original members. It was a disappointing comeback, and although technically, Who Do You Love was The Intruders final album, morally, and in the eyes of Philly Soul lovers, Energy Of Love was their farewell album. Indeed, Energy Of Love saw The Intruders do what they’d done so well since 1967, sing sweet Philly Soul. Standout Tracks: Energy Of Love, A Nice Girl Like You, Be Thankful For What You Got and Plain Ol’ Fashioned Girl.

THE INTRUDERS-ENERGY OF LOVE.

 

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