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Here’s Your Chance: Philly Soul Legends, Deep Soul Grooves Comprise BBR’s Next Release Slate

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Enchantment UtopiaFrom the streets of Philadelphia to the deepest vaults of soul and R&B, this coming week’s slate of reissues from Big Break Records has got just about something for everyone.

Enchantment, the Detroit soul group behind 1978’s hit “It’s You That I Need,” would make some changes in the ’80s, having moved labels a few times (from Roadshow/United Artists to RCA and finally Columbia for two albums) and also subtly altering their sound from a lush, disco feel to a Fairlight-led modern groove. While Utopia, their final album, did not chart, it still has its fans thanks to singles like “Here’s Your Chance” and “Don’t Fight the Feeling.” Utopia makes an appearance on CD, both newly remastered and with five bonus tracks, including single mixes of “Here’s Your Chance.”

Though “Kleeer” was the name of the band behind the album Winners in 1979, the group of musicians who made up this ensemble took on several monikers throughout the decade. As The Jam Band, they were New York-based session players, notably for Disco-Tex and The Sex-O-Lettes; as Pipeline, they were an ill-fated hard rock outfit on Columbia Records and as The Universal Robot Band, they were another disco-based studio project (which would enjoy a cult dance hit in the ’80s with “Barely Breaking Even”). Kleeer was self-made dance music, however, with a Top 40 R&B hit in the title track. (Fun fact: among the horn players doing session work on this LP are jazz legends Randy and Michael Brecker!) Winners is expanded with a bonus extended version of the title track.

The song titles on Gwen McCrae’s Melody of Life hint at a love life of joy and pain; for McCrae, it was all too real. Three years prior, after a rocky relationship, she divorced her husband and collaborator George McCrae (of “Rock Your Baby” fame); after Melody, she’d further separate from her label, TK Records subsidiary Cat, for whom she’d made six albums. (McCrae would enjoy some success in the ’80s on Atlantic.) McCrae’s tour de force vocals shine anew on CD with this expansion of Melody of Life, featuring two single edits as bonus tracks.

MFSBBBR’s last two releases this week are pure Philadelphia soul from two architects of the genre. First, there’s the debut album by MFSB (Mother Father Sister Brother), the de facto house band for all of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff’s musical ventures. Though Philly soul was still in its infancy when MFSB released their first, self-titled album in 1972, the groundwork is very much there, on both Philly originals (“Back Stabbers,” a hit for The O’Jays, “Something for Nothing,” written by Gamble, Roland Chambers and Thom Bell) and covers (Curtis Mayfield’s “Freddie’s Dead,” Sly & The Family Stone’s “Family Affair”). The same can be said for the final BBR release of the week, the live set The O’Jays in Philadelphia. The group had recorded for Imperial and Bell, but this LP, released on Neptune Records, was their first under the Gamble-Huff umbrella; the following year’s Back Stabbers for Philadelphia International would make them worldwide stars.

After the jump, you can place your orders for all of these titles, which are shipping now (save for Kleeer, which has a June 3 date on Amazon U.K.).

Enchantment, Utopia: Expanded Edition (originally released as Columbia LP FC 38959, 1983 – reissued Big Break Records CDBBR0225 (U.K.), 2013) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

  1. Give It Up
  2. Come Be My Lover
  3. Love Struck
  4. Here’s Your Chance
  5. Don’t Fight the Feeling
  6. Somebody’s Loving You
  7. I’m Dreaming
  8. Get It While It’s Hot
  9. Gotta Find a Love
  10. Here’s Your Chance (Single Version) (single A-side – Columbia 38-04170, 1983)
  11. Don’t Fight the Feeling (Single Version) (promo single A-side – Columbia ZSS 169556, 1983)
  12. I’m Dreaming (Single Version) (single B-side – Columbia 38-04170, 1983)
  13. Here’s Your Chance (12″ Vocal Mix) (12″ A-side – Columbia 44-04171, 1983)
  14. Here’s Your Chance (Instrumental Mix) (12″ B-side – Columbia 44-04171, 1983)

Kleeer, Winners: Expanded Edition (originally released as Atlantic LP SD 19262, 1979 – reissued Big Break Records CDBBR0226 (U.K.), 2013) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

  1. Winners
  2. I Still Love You
  3. Your Way
  4. Close to You
  5. Rollin’ On
  6. Nothin’ Said
  7. Hunger for Your Love
  8. Open Your Mind
  9. Winners (12″ Disco Version) (12″ promo A-side – Atlantic DSKO 227, 1979)

Gwen McCrae, Melody of Life: Expanded Edition (originally released as Cat LP 2614, 1979 – reissued Big Break Records CDBBR0227 (U.K.), 2013) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

  1. All This Love That I’m Givin’
  2. I Can Only Think of You
  3. Maybe I’ll Find Somebody New
  4. I Found a Love
  5. The Joy
  6. Ease the Pain
  7. The Melody of Life
  8. All This Love That I’m Givin’ (Single Version) (single A-side – Cat Records 2015, 1979)
  9. The Joy (Single Version) (single B-side – Cat Records 2014, 1979)

MFSB, MFSB: Expanded Edition (originally released as Philadelphia International LP KZ 32046, 1973 – reissued Big Break Records CDBBR0228 (U.K.), 2013) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

  1. Freddie’s Dead
  2. Family Affair
  3. Something for Nothing
  4. Backstabbers
  5. Lay In Low
  6. Poinciana
  7. Family Affair (Single Version) (single A-side – Philadelphia International ZS7 3528, 1973)

The O’Jays, The O’Jays in Philadelphia (originally released as Neptune Records LP NLPS 202, 1970 – reissued Big Break Records CDBBR0229 (U.K.), 2013) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

  1. One Night Affair
  2. You’re the Best Thing Since Candy
  3. Branded Bad
  4. I Should Be Your Lover
  5. Looky Looky (Look At Me Girl)
  6. Deeper (in Love with You)
  7. Let Me in Your World
  8. Just Can’t Get Enough
  9. I’ve Got the Groove
  10. Something/Little Green Apples
  11. It’s Too Strong

Written by Mike Duquette

May 28, 2013 at 11:59

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