The Best Album from Philly International Records You Never Heard

Ask any fan of soul and R&B music to name some of their favorite albums and artists and chances are one of the many iconic releases from Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s legendary Philadelphia International Records are on the list. Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes, Teddy Pendergrass, Lou Rawls, Billy Paul, McFadden and Whitehead, The Intruders, The O’Jays and dozens of more musicians released some of their finest records through Philly International. Working with the remarkable MFSB house band, PIR churned out one hit after another; songs like “Backstabbers,” “Me & Mrs. Jones,” “Love Train,” “The Love I Lost,” “Love TKO,” are forever ingrained in our lives.

Looking over PIR’s impressive discography though, there’s probably one name you won’t recognize: Dick Jensen. Jensen’s self-titled 1973 release on PIR recently came to my attention by way of this review by music writer Joe Marchese on The Second Disc, a music web site that has news and review about music reissues, box sets and compilations. As Marchese writes: “If you’re a fan of Philly soul, classic pop vocals, so-called “MOR” or just plain R&B, there’s something for you here. This is one white hot album you’ll want to add to your library and revisit again and again.”

The Hawaiian born Jensen was born in Kahlihi in 1942 and passed away in 2006. Known as “The Giant,” Jensen performed in his homeland and performed in Mexico City, Las Vegas and New York. Jensen released his debut record, White Hot Soul, in 1969. His 1973 release for Philly International had all the makings of a classic. Marchese writes:

The line-up recorded at Sigma Sound Studios is quintessential: co-producer Leon Huff on piano, Norman Harris, T.J. Tindall, Bobby Eli, and Roland Chambers on guitar, Earl Young on drums, Ronnie Baker on bass, Larry Washington on congas, Lenny Pakula on organ and Vince Montana on vibes. Don Renaldo brought his Horns and Strings, and the Sweethearts of Sigma (Carla Benson, Barbara Ingram and Evette Benton) were on hand for the background vocals. Gamble and Huff, Bunny Sigler and Thom Bell all contributed production, while Bell, Montana, Harris and Bobby Martin all wrote arrangements for Jensen’s artistic rebirth.

Long out of print, the album is available again through Big Break Records; you can purchase it here. Below, listen to a couple of songs from the album.

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DJ Apt One celebrating the release of Philadelphia International: The Re-Edits

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Philadelphia International Records, a new collection of Philly International songs is being released in the UK on Harmless Records called Philadelphia International: Re-Edits & Remixes. The collection, sanctioned by Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff features remixes and re-edits of some of Gamble & Huff’s classic songs from various producers around the world. The only Philly producer represented on the collection is DJ Apt One with his re-edit of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes’ “Wake Up Everybody” that you can listen to below. DJ Apt One is throwing a record release party that he’s calling The Ball on Friday, January 20th at Kung Fu Necktie. The Ball is billed as an evening featuring “the Philly Sound and the Disco and House Music it inspired” with special guest DEL and residents DJ Bruce and DJ Apt One. For more information about the event go here.

Wake Up Everybody (DJ Apt One Edit) by DJ Apt One

Track List
CD 1 Uptempo Good Time Philly
1. Satisfaction Guaranteed Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes 7.22 Morning Star Re-Edit
2. Only The Strong Survive Billy Paul 8.19 J*Ski Re-Edit
3. Save A Place The Trammps 6.37 J*Ski Re-Edit
4. Free Love Jean Carn 7.04 Victor Rosado Re-Edit
5. Do It Anyway You Wanna People’s Choice 6.35 Keep Schtum Re-Edit
6. Life On Mars Dexter Wansel 5.35 DJ Mila Re-Edit
Mysteries Of The World MFSB 6.00 J*Ski Re-Edit
7. Ain’t No Stopping Us Now McFadden & Whitehead 7.30 Noodleman Re-Edit
8. Dance Turned Into Romance The Jones Girls 6.55 DJ Friction Re-Edit
9. Be For Real Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes 7.43 Tim McAllister Re-Edit
10. Message In Our Music The O’Jays 9.16 Jimmy The Twin Re-Edit

CD2 Mellow Slinky Philly
1. If You Wanna Go Back Jean Carn 6.46 Morning Star Re-Edit
2. Darlin’ Darlin’ Baby The O’Jays 8.08 Deep&Disco Rework Re-Edit
3. You’re Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else The Jones Girls 8.36 Henry Greenwood Re-Edit
4. Strategy Archie Bell & The Drells 6.05 Touchsoul Re-Edit
5. Let The Dollar Circulate Billy Paul 6.41 scratchandsniff Re-Edit
6. Easy Money Dee Dee Sharp Gamble 6.56 Todd Terje Re-Edit
7. Was That All It Was Jean Carn 7.59 Morning Star Re-Edit
8. Nights Over Egypt The Jones Girls 6.59 Womack & TOT Re-Edit
9. Don’t Let Love Get You Down Archie Bell & The Drells 8.00 Ed Zone Re-Edit
10. Wake Up Everybody Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes 9.31 DJ Apt One Re-Edit