Classics: MFSB – K-Jee (Philadelphia International Records)
My life and what I’ve done of it. But also my approach of music and, by that, my approach of life and people. Then what got me in this position to write these few lines for your attention from a day to another… I guess I owe everything to the Philadelphia Sound. Including my DJ guise (MFSB) although it has a slightly different meaning. And the name of this site. Itself symbolizing the idea of the blend of cultures and vibes. And this despite our differences of origins, ethnicity, languages, sexual preferences and whatsoever…
Like many people hailin’ from Europe I suppose, Rock first got to my attention. Although it wouldn’t be that long before my ears got caught up by sort of alternative sounds. From The Rolling Stones‘ hypnotic ‘2000 Light Years Away From Home’ and its surprisingly avant-gardist Ambient feel when knowing it saw the light back in 1969. To the Santana‘s 1972 ‘Abraxas’ album. Beginning with its opening ‘Singin’ Winds, Cryin’ Beasts’ track which got me into psychedelic and percussive vibes. Not to mention the memorable ‘Why Can’t We Live Together’ by the likes of Timmy Thomas which opened my ears to Soul Music.
Then came what would be the detonator for me when discovering the Philadelphia Sound back in the mid-70’s. From The O’Jays‘ ‘I Love Music’ to The Trammps‘ ‘Love Epidemic’. And, of course, MFSB‘s ‘Love Is The Message’ and ‘K-Jee’. If not ‘Mysteries Of The World’ among others. The voices, the arrangements, the sound treatment and, by that, a bass-driven music… I just felt this was it for me. First as a clubber, then a DJ soon after, a compiler and a reviewer.
Besides, a quick listen to MFSB‘s version of ‘K-Jee’ says it all in terms of virtuosity and versatility. Standing as an all time instrumental Jazz/Funk masterpiece under the direction of Bobby Martin. Thus bringin’ this The Nite-Liters‘ 1971 classic of the likes to a brand new dimension. In other words, the Philadelphia sound at its very best!
History will most likely remember MFSB as the biggest reunion of talents ever put together in the history of music. With thanks to P.I.R. label heads Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff who put them together by the beginning of the 70’s. Standing for Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, MFSB acted as an in-house band for the label. Backing luminaries such as The O’Jays, McFadden & Whitehead, The Three Degrees or Teddy Pendergrass among others.
Among their members, many names you, regular of these shores, should be familiar with. From Norman Harris, Ron Baker and Thom Bell. To Bobbi Eli, Victor Carstarphen and Dexter Wansel. But also Earl Young (The Trammps) or Keith Benson who wrote ‘Can You Feel It’ for Funk Fusion Band. Not to mention John Davis who came to form the John Davis & The Monster Orchestra (remember ‘Love Magic’). Or Vincent Montana, Jr. who gave birth to The Salsoul Orchestra. Therefore crafting gems such as ‘Ooh I Love It’, ‘Run Away’ and ‘Getaway’ which they took from Earth, Wind & Fire.
MFSB have released a total of 7 albums between 1973 and 1980. Meanwhile enlightening the period with a myriad of timeless and influential gems. From their cover version of Curtis Mayfield‘s ‘Freddie’s Dead’ to ‘TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)’. Then ‘Love Is The Message’ which influenced both The Salsoul Orchestra‘s ‘Ooh I Love It’ and Madonna‘s ‘Vogue’. But also ‘Let’s Clean Up The Ghetto’ along with Philadelphia International All Stars. Not to mention their cover version of The Nite-Liters‘ ‘K-Jee’. This in addition to ‘Picnic In The Park’ and ‘Mysteries Of The World’.
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