T.S.O.P. (The Sound Of
by MFSB 1977 - on cd Love is the message The Best of MFSB (Sony 1995)
Mother, Father, Sister, Brother.
If the great Black music at the '70s is now considered Old School then surely maestros
Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff are the reigning deans of the university. As the principal
produce rs/composers of their own label, Philadelphia International (or is it R&B U?),
Gamble and Huff imbued their releases for such noteworthy artists as the Uri Billy Paul
and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes with a driving, full-bodied, orchestral approach of
funky rhythms and swirling strings which became best-known worldwide as the "Philly
While Gamble and Huff were the architects of this lush soul from the City of Brotherly
Love, the building blocks, the background for these thrilling compositions, were laid
down by a group of great musicians based at Philadelphia's Sigma Sound Studios. They
were an assembly of talent that equaled, in ability and importance, Madown's lanned and
fabled ranking hard, the Funk Brothers, in providing one succulent groove after another,
An instrumental unit so strong, they had to be given their own opportunity in the
spotlight. An exciting melodic hybrid of swing. classical, jazz add R&B, their name
was Mother, Father, Sister, Brother or, to put it more succinctly, MFSB.
The heart of MFSB was its ace rhythm section: bassist Ronnie Baker, drummer Earl Young
and guitarists Norman Harris and Bobby Eli. They had been recording together for a number
of years. (Same had even played on the 1968 Cliff Nobles hit instrumental, "The
Horse.") In 1971, they released a cover of Sly and the family Stores "Family
Affair" tinder the sobriquet, The Family ".
For their eponymous debut album made some two years later, under the utopian Gamble and
Huff vision. that nickname had metamorphosed into a title with resonamic Mother, Father,
Sister, Brother. An inspired choice MFSB was an appellation that signified responsibility
and empowerment. two tenets prevalent throughout the Poll International cannot.
It was that feeling, that resonance, of righteous, undeniable force which permeated Ii
output. Aided by Such witty arrangers/alchonests; as Jack Faith, Dexte Wansed and the
criminally underrated Bobby Martin MFSB released four albums in three years, transforming
cover versions of Elton John's 'Philadelphia Freedom," Johnnie Taylor's "Cheaper
To Keep Her" and War's "Sm HaPPY" into a symphonic learning center. These
were tunes with space: Tin Pan Alley chestnuts like "Poinciana and "My One And
Only Love" became syncopated frameworks wherein quality craftsmen were allowed to
explore, Is expand a song inner meaning while galloping from a smokin' jazz quintet to a
30-piece orchestra in a heartbeat.
The group was velvet with a spine, a Love Unlimited Orchestra with grit. They
consistently surprised with a theatrical flair. Listen to the fancy fretwork oil
"Back Stagings" and its perfect radiation of the song's sense of foreboding Or
how the combination of votes, electric piano and Latin percussion on ' Freddie a
Dead" conjured up the chase scene at your dreams.
MFSB's aptitude for Permanent; histrionics was most evident on ' Love Is The
Message" and "T.S D.P. (The Sound Of Philadelphia)." Every DJ worth his
salt attempted to remix Test` but few could improve on the original. How could they? With
its driving saxophone, layered legate strings, mellow-funky keyboards and incessant beat,
"Love" was transcendent perfect.
As was "T. S.O.P." Marc Land just a battle of acronyms, this regal theme for
the Mecca of Black television, "Soul Train," was the anthem for a generation
"The Sound Of Philadelphia" was anthem. Gamble and Huff had spoke to them with a
fierce and heartfelt honesty When the Thme Degrees sang "People all over the world'
against MFSB a propelling, ennead backdrop, they were unmannerly correct As they are
today. Love is the message. There is draina in this music. What this collection of MFSB
provides is more than a passionate soundtrack to the endlessly unsaddling movie in your
head; it furnishes truth to power and love to the world.