Published on Apr 28, 2012
"TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)" was a 1974 number one hit, and winner of the 1974 Grammy for Best R&B Instrumental Performance, by MFSB (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother) featuring vocals by The Three Degrees. It was written by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff as the theme for the American musical television program "Soul Train". The single was released on the Philadelphia International label, and it was considered by some critics to be the first disco song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was essentially an instrumental piece, featuring a lush blend of strings and horns in the Philadelphia soul style. There were only two vocal parts to the song: a passage close to the beginning during which The Three Degrees sing "People all over the world!"; and the chorus over the fadeout, "Let's get it on/It's time to get down". The version heard on "Soul Train" also had the series' title sung over the first four notes of the melody. "TSOP" hit number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1974 and remained there for two weeks, and also topped the American R&B chart and the adult contemporary chart. Don Cornelius, the creator and host of "Soul Train", refused to allow any references to the name of the TV series when the single was released, requiring Gamble and Huff to adopt the alternate title for the release. Although various different themes were used during the late 1970s and early 1980s, "TSOP" returned in the late 1980s and remained the theme song for "Soul Train" through the disco, 1980s R&B, new jack swing, hip-hop, and neo soul eras of black music. MFSB (Mother Father Sister Brother) was a pool of more than thirty studio musicians based at Philadelphia's famed Sigma Sound Studios. They worked closely with Gamble and Huff and producer/arranger Thom Bell, and backed up such groups as Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, The O'Jays, The Stylistics, The Spinners, Wilson Pickett, and Billy Paul. In 1972, MFSB began recording as a named act for the Philadelphia International label. MFSB originated the signature smooth 'Philly soul' sound that dominated the early 1970s for the artists who recorded at the Sigma Sound Studios. The line-up of musicians included Karl Chambers and Earl Young on drums; Norman Harris, Roland Chambers, Bobby Eli, and TJ Tindall on guitar; Winnie Wilford and Ronnie Baker on bass; Vincent Montana, Jr. and Larry Washington on vibes and percussion, Harold Ivory Williams on keyboards, plus Leon Huff and Thom Bell on keyboards, Don Renaldo on strings and Rocco Bene on trumpet. In 2005, drummer Keith Benson (who had joined the group upon Young's departure) revived the group with Gamble's help. The group still performs live at private and concert events, and was featured at the inauguration of Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter. The Three Degrees were an American female vocal group, formed in 1963 in Philadelphia. The group has always been a trio, although a total of fifteen women have represented the group so far. The original members were Fayette Pinkney, Shirley Porter and Linda Turner, with the most successful line-up being Fayette with Sheila Ferguson and Valerie Holiday. Early success landed them a cameo appearance in the 1971 film, "The French Connection". In 1973 they signed with Philadelphia International Records under Gamble and Huff, where they were to have their greatest successes. The first song they recorded there was with MFSB, "TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)". This channel is dedicated to all the great 'old school' R&B music I grew up with, the stuff that originally made me tap my feet and want to be a DJ. Funk, soul, disco, R&B, dance, hip-hop, pop . . . 60s, 70s, 80s . . . whatever you call it, it's all 'Old School' and it's all here!
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