Classics: The Trammps – Love Epidemic (Philadelphia International Records)
And here I am… Finding myself standing in front of my screen with The Trammps‘ ‘Love Epidemic’ resonating in my ears. More than 40 years have gone since I heard it for the first time. And the emotion still remains the same. Bringin’ me back to the mid-70’s and the souvenir of the then emerging Club sound. This with extra gems such as The Hues Corporation‘s ‘Rock The Boat’ and Creative Source‘s ‘Who Is He And What Is He To You’. If not The O’Jays‘ ‘Back Stabbers’ among others. And, in the meantime, my first gigs behind the decks.
Back at the time, the Philadelphia sound had just appeared like a revelation to me. With thanks to MFSB. Meanwhile ‘Love Epidemic’ would get me into not only the spirit of Disco, with its meaningful lyrics. But also The Trammps‘ unique (Disco) sound. From its stellar arrangements with their member counting as the nucleus of MFSB. To its one of a kind vocal performance. With Stanley Wade‘s bass vocals playing opposite to Jimmy Ellis‘s instantly identifiable interpretation.
As a matter of fact, I would humbly tend to consider ‘Love Epidemic’ at the epicenter of the Philadelphia Sound…
From Philadelphia, PA, the nucleus of The Trammps originated from The Volcanos. A band which briefly became The Moods after the departure of lead singer Gene Faith. With Jimmy Ellis replacing him soon after. Meanwhile drummer Earl Young came up with the concept of The Trammps. With songwriting/production team Ronnie Baker, Norman Harris and Young crafting their reportoire. And MFSB mainstays playing in the background.
The Trammps went straight to the charts with their upbeat version of the James F. Hanley‘s 1934 standard ‘Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart’ back in 1972. Its title somehow inspiring the one of their 1975 ‘The Legendary Zing Album’ LP on Buddah Records. The latter featuring extra gems such as ‘Hold Back The Night’ and ‘Tom’s Song’.
Strangely enough, that same year also saw the release of their ‘Trammps’ album, although on Golden Fleece this time. This effort featuring ‘Love Epidemic’ which they’d released 2 years before as a one off on Philadelphia Sound International.
1976 marked a major turn in the profile of The Trammps with their arrival on Atlantic Records. ‘Disco Inferno’, the title track of their album of the likes getting soon after extra exposure. This with its inclusion of the ‘Saturday Night Fever’ OST along with MFSB‘s ‘K-Jee’ the year after. Meanwhile, from the same album, also came ‘Starvin” which would get them standin’ at #1 position in the U.S. Dance charts.
The Trammps have undoubtedly a signature sound. With thanks to their firing arrangements. But also to Earl Young‘s unique Disco style of ‘Rock drumming. The whole givin’ birth to a consistant string of extra gems. From ‘That’s Where The Happy People Go’ and ‘Disco Party’. To ‘The Night The Lights Went Out’ and ‘Soul Bones’. As many masterpieces which most likely made of The Trammps the best Disco male band of all time.
Young eventually contributed to The Atlanta Disco Band. A transient project that saw him jammin’ along with some of his MFSB partners. This resulting in the release of the ‘Bad Luck’ album back in 1975. An effort mostly remembered for their cover version of the McFadden & Whitehead penned… ‘Bad Luck’. With other tracks worth the check including ‘Buckead’, ‘Do What You Feel’ and ‘Ole Goat’.
Norman Harris sadly died of cardiovascular disease in Philadelphia, PA at the early age of 39 on Mar. 20, 1987.
Lead singer Jimmy Ellis, who’d suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, sadly died at a nursing home in Rock Hill, SC, aged 74 on Mar. 08, 2012.
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