Although, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes had been together with different membership for years before they found success with Philadelphia International. It was with this Gamble and Huff label they achieved the most success, as a group.
With the baritone vocals, of Teddy Pendergrass, as lead singer, they ascended to the top, of the charts with some, of Gamble and Huff compositions along with John Whitehead and Gene McFadden contributing too to the group success. Probably, next to the Mighty O’jays they probably the second best group that was a direct that to the group. With Lloyd Parks, Bernie Wilson, Lawrence Brown and, of course Harold Melvin they placed memorable tunes into the soul charts that crossed over into the pop charts too.
In, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” written by the founders, of PIR, they was being direct stating that after so many years together you should know that man like the back, of your hand. Pendergrass draw you into that song with each emotional phase, of the song. And, although many whites might be surprised that Simply Red had a bigger hit with a good remake that won them award, The song belongs to the Bluenotes.
Teddy Pendergrass has been compared in terms, of lead vocals to Marvin Junior, who blazed that baritone styling first which you also see in another group on Philadelphia International records called the Ebonys. Who seems molded on the Dells.? The Teddy bear, as he was called with his smooth velvet tone was a ladies magnet. That became stronger, as he went solo later in the group success.
But, on their 1972 album appropriately named “I Miss You” which contained the hit with the same name. You become understandable on the many reasons you would missed your lover. It could be said it’s a modern style version, of the Temptations “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” where his deep emotions is told to the woman about his heart. The songs probably ranks in terms, of minutes up their with many Norman Whitfield’s long version songs on albums. A eight minute drama, with great harmony that plays to your every desire to love better the next time.
A song that the legendary vocalist, of the Classic Five Temps did on a solo album that compliment the writers, and the original vocalist, of this song. A legend playing a compliment to a future legend that the Teddy Bear became, as years went by.
The first album with the arrangements, of Bobby Martin, Norman Harris, and Thom Bell laid the foundation for many hits, at the label that made many know that Motown wasn’t the only African American firm around with great black acts
Another great classic “Be For Real” similar to minutes like the I Miss You, if just a minute or two shorter addressed issues that you could only expect, from a black group. Except for the blues you hardly ever hear a man correct the lady he loves with knowing when and how to talk about the things you possessed.
Pendegrass was advising his love that don’t boast about the things you have around those that has lesser than you. But to understand they hoping to improve their lot to be in the place you are at. This Gamble, Huff, Cary Gilbert classic doesn’t get played a lot, but it should in these times when people needs to understand the power, of success and love.
The album was like many that was produced, by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff in terms they contained some wonderful and original tunes mainly engineered, by Joe Tarsia, at Sigma Sound Studios. If Motown had the Funk Brother and some sisters too. Then PIR had the MFSB short for Mother,Father, Sisters, Brothers playing the Sound of Philadelphia that made them just as famous.
From Bad Love another contribution, from McfFadden and Whitehead and Victor Carstarphen, they was dominating the charts just like their brother groups that sung the compositions that was created, by the many writers the label had that might get less credit due to the fame, of the founders.
By, the time the “Wake Up Everybody album the group was firmly established although Jerry Cummings had replaced Parks in the group. On this album it seems the group writers , of McFadden, Whitehead, Carstarphen had won over the confidence, of Gamble and Huff, as writers to be firmly in charged , of contributing more songs to the group. They placed four tunes on the album out, of seven with the others being, from Gamble and Huff.
If, the O’jays was offering friendly advice than so was the Bluenotes in the title, of the album. They was installing confidence to affirm that you can accept in society if you only believe. One cut on the album that would have Marvin Gaye take notice was “You Know How To Make Me Feel So Good” with the switch off of, the song between Jerry Cummings and Pendergrass. A song that beg, of good intimacy.
If Eddie Levert, was asking to “Let Me Make Love To You” then this song was the follow up to it. Only sung, by another group instead. Although Thelma Houston had more success with “Don’t Leave Me This Way” don’t be fooled that you think it was written, by the writers, of Motown. Because it was the creation, of Gamble, Huff and Cary Gilbert although both parties saw success, from the recording that done by Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes.
And, as with many great groups good times comes to an end when money is involved. Some allegations states that Teddy Pendergrass wanted a little more green and not top billing, of the group. In other words, he respected Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes to just ask for billing in the name, stating featuring Teddy Pendergass.
Which could have been a sign he was planning for a solo care later on. As, we all know after some friction he departed on to a very successful solo career. And, his group soon left PIR and had a succession, of lead singers like Gil Sunders and David Abo. Who both had similar tones to the late great Teddy Bear?
Yes, the Harold Melvin group was and still is a great group to place in the compact, of your wheels and enjoy the thrills, of good music.