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New CD Showcases <i>The 'Philly' Sound</i> - 2002-01-14

One of the greatest songwriting teams in pop music history was Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. Their record label "Philadelphia International" turned out 18 Number One songs and more than 150 gold or platinum singles and albums.

A new CD pays tribute to the performers, producers and composers of the music known around the world as The Philly Sound.

With The Beatles and Otis Redding blaring on medium wave radios throughout the USA in the mid-1960s, the little-known Soul Survivors earned Gamble and Huff their first hit single in 1966, with "Expressway To Your Heart."

From then on, the airwaves were never the same. A new sound, unlike Motown in Detroit or Stax Records in Memphis, began surfacing on radio stations across America. Within a few years, groups like The O'Jays, Spinners, Intruders, Harold Melvin and The Bluenotes, and MFSB were riding the wave of the "Sound of Philadelphia."

Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff first met in 1960. They formed a group called The Romeos with another "Philly Sound" originator Thom Bell. The Romeos never recorded, but inspired Gamble and Huff to write and produce a new style of R&B that combined strings, horns and even classical music with funk and soul.

The center of all this activity was Sigma Sound Studios in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It's where Joe Simon sang "Drowning In A Sea Of Love"; The O'Jays recorded "I Love Music"; The Three Degrees did "When Will I See You Again"; Wilson Pickett warned "Don't Let The Green Grass Fool You"; and Billy Paul crooned "Me And Mrs. Jones."

Number One on both the pop and R&B charts in 1972, singer Billy Paul with the Gamble-Huff tune "Me And Mrs. Jones" appears on a new compilation album titled The Philly Sound: Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff & The Story Of Brotherly Love. The album covers the years from 1966 to 1976 when Gamble and Huff were at their peak.

Among the many stars to record at Sigma Sound Studios were The Jacksons, who enjoyed one of their biggest hits with this Philly International release "Enjoy Yourself."

Today, Kenny Gamble is working to revive the label while his former partner Leon Huff operates a construction company.