Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes

Bad Luck

Composed by Gene McFadden / John Whitehead / Victor Carstarphen

Song Review by

Bad luck was what a lot of people kept having during the recession-racked '70s as they waited in long lines at gas stations, felt the crunch of the energy crisis, and suffered through permanent "temporary" layoffs. For those unfamiliar with those times, check out the reruns of the early episodes of the CBS-TV sitcom Good Times. After co-writing with Leon Huff the million-selling "Back Stabbers" for the O'Jays, the songwriting team of Gene McFadden and John Whitehead were assigned to work with Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, another act signed to Gamble & Huff's Philadelphia International Records. Reflecting on the timbre of the times, Whitehead improvised some lyrics as co-writer/pianist Victor Carstarphen played a chord progression. Featuring the Instant Funk rhythm section, "Bad Luck" was a bold, brassy piece of energetic Philly soul that has some show-stopping accents and a huge disco hit. Lead singer Teddy Pendergrass, who became an ordained minister at age ten, puts his sermonizing skills to good use during the closing minutes of the track. From the group's gold number one R&B LP To Be True, "Bad Luck" hit number four R&B/number 15 pop in spring 1975.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes 1972 BMG / Sony Music 6:24
Collectors' Item (All Their Greatest Hits!) 1976 Philadelphia International/EMI 6:28
No Image 1977 Philadelphia International/EMI
Love I Lost 1994 CD Horizon
If You Don't Know Me by Now: The Best of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes 1995 Legacy / Epic/Legacy 6:24
Back 2 Back: Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes/Atlantic Starr 2000 Intercontinental Records 3:23
The Ultimate Blue Notes 2001 Legacy / Epic/Legacy 6:23
Forever Gold: Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes 2002 St. Clair 3:15
Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes/The Best of Teddy Pendergrass 2004 Platinum Disc 3:30
The Essential Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes 2004 Legacy / Epic/Legacy 6:24
Greatest Hits [Collectables] 2006 Collectables 3:15
Live in Concert 2007 Soul Concerts
No Image 2008 K-Tel Distribution 3:26
Soul: Supernatural Love 2012
Various Artists
Bellevue Publishing 3:15
Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes [Platinum] Platinum Disc / Platinum Entertainment 3:30
blue highlight denotes editor's pick