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Soul Togetherness Presents The Spirit Of Philadelphia Volume 4

Artist: Various

Label: Expansion

By Duncan Payne | 22 October 2016

The first of these highly desirable CDs came out back in 2002 with the third volume coming out five years ago. With the expected long wait for another edition finally over, could Expansion deliver another excellent set of Modern Soul gems, obscurities and string-laden Soulful Disco tracks from the City Of Brotherly Love?

Almost without exception the 17 songs on offer date from that golden period from 1973 to 1976, the one notable anomaly being ‘Ready, Willing And Able’ from The Temptations’ 1981 eponymous LP, a guitar and strings led typically well structured Thom Bell tune. Another anomaly is the ultra-rare Lenny Welch song, originally out on Atco in 1973, ‘Fancy Meeting You Here, Baby’ in so much as it’s the only real ballad among a collection of mid-tempo and upbeat dance tracks.

Although most of the songs originate from Philadelphia, there are others which do not and fall into the Philly-influenced category. One such tune is the stunning ‘Keep In Touch’ by The Choice Four, an album track from 1975 produced by Van McCoy, which takes your breath away with its gorgeous arrangement and melody. Another pleasant surprise is the remarkably good disco dancer ‘I’m Ready To Give Up My Love’ by Final Touch, co-written by Bobby Eli but with a most untypical Randy Muller and Jeff Lane production and arrangement. It’s really hard to believe this came from a pair who were going all guns blazing with Brass Construction around that time.

There are several Tom Moulton mixes thrown in for good measure, one of which being The Spinners-ish ‘Merry-Go-Round’ by Monday After, the 12” extended version previously only available as a Buddah promo, another being a brand new mix of Free Spirit’s ‘Love You Just As Long As I Can’.  A few better known but commercially unsuccessful dancers have also been selected such as Ben E King’s brilliant and uplifting ‘No Danger Ahead’, Finishing Touch’s 1974 Philly Groove belter from Allan Felder and Bunny Sigler ‘Don’t Push Me Down’ and the galloping ‘I Was A Lonely Man’ by the much loved Philly Devotions.

Delightful obscurities like the Vince Montana-arranged ‘How Have You Been’, a soulful and melodic dancer by trumpeter Everett ‘Blood’ Hollins which features his instrument as well as his vocal with Jean Lang, and the funkier wah-wah driven Billy Proctor & The Love System tune ‘Keeping Up With The Joneses’ have been included.

The Futures, Tapestry, Ronnie Dyson, The Reflections and The Tymes are also represented to complete the collection. So, to answer my earlier question. This compilation is every bit as good as the first three volumes and if you love highly melodic, superbly crafted and beautifully orchestrated mid seventies dance tunes sung by a variety of supremely talented and soulful singers, it’s a no brainer. Buy it now!

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