The Delfonics

La-La (Means I Love You)

Composed by Thom Bell / William "Poogie" Hart

Song Review by

Although it predated the true emergence of the Philly sound as an identifiable soul genre by close to half a decade, the Delfonics' 1968 hit "La-La (Means I Love You)" is arguably the Rosetta stone of the style. Writer/producer Thom Bell's first hit for his Philly Groove label -- the precursor to the hugely successful Philadelphia International imprint that Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff would ride to fame -- "La-La (Means I Love You)" didn't sound like anything else on the charts in 1968, the pinnacle of the Memphis sound and Southern soul in general. The backbeat is almost entirely gone, replaced by a simple snare hit on the downbeat of every bar, and the bass is mixed so far back that you have to hunt for it behind the exceedingly prominent string section. Guitar is minimal, and there's no piano or organ at all. Most strikingly, the weightless three-part harmonies of William Hart, Wilbert Hart, and Randy Cain are pure sonic cotton candy: next to William Hart, the Temptations' David Ruffin, previous owner of the coveted "Sweetest Voice in Soul" award, sounded like Captain Beefheart. Though the Delfonics went on to create many similarly astonishing singles, "La-La (Means I Love You)" remains the template, not only for their own career, but for Philly soul as a whole.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
La La Means I Love You 1968 Buddha Records 3:20
No Image 1972
Various Artists
Bell 3:06
Oldies But Goodies: Legendary Hits 1979
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 3:17
No Image 197? Philly Groove
Soul Shots, Vol. 1: Sixties Soul Classics 1987
Various Artists
Rhino 3:06
Golden Oldies, Vol. 12 [Original Sound 1994] 1989
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 3:16
Oldies But Goodies, Vol. 12 1990
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 3:14
Rhythm & Blues: 1968 1991
Various Artists
Time/Life Music
Slow Jams: The '60s, Vol. 1 1993
Various Artists
The Right Stuff 3:14
Lowrider Oldies, Vol. 1 1993
Various Artists
3:20
Ebb Tide, Vol. 2 1994
Various Artists
Ripete Records 3:26
Love Sixties 1994
Various Artists
JCI Associated Labels
Classic Soul [Stardust] 1994
Various Artists
Stardust Records 3:22
Deep in the Philly Groove 1995
Various Artists
Kent 3:50
Glory of Love: Sweet & Soulful Love Songs 1996
Various Artists
Hip-O / HIPP 3:20
Smooth Grooves: The '60s, Vol. 3: Late '60s 1997
Various Artists
Rhino 3:19
MVP Classic Soul, Vol. 1 1997
Various Artists
MVP Records 3:14
Beg Scream & Shout: The Big Ol' Box of '60s Soul 1997
Various Artists
Rhino 3:18
La-La Means I Love You: The Definitive Collection 1997 Arista 3:19
East Side Story, Vol. 3 1997
Various Artists
East Side Records 3:19
Native New Yorker: Disco Classics 1997
Various Artists
BMG 3:19
The K-Tel Presents Greatest Male R&B Groups: The 60's 1998
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:17
Chart Toppers: R&B Hits of the 60s 1998
Various Artists
Priority Records / Priority 3:19
Greatest Hits & More 1998 Intercontinental Records 3:24
Solid Gold Soul: Soul Gems 1998
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:22
Back 2 Back 1998 Masters / Double Play Records 3:25
No Image 1998 Excelsior Recordings
Whole Lotta Soul 1968-1969 1999
Various Artists
BCI-Eclipse Distribution / Eclipse Music Group 3:18
Soundtracks of Love: Love Is in the Air 1999
Various Artists
Unison 3:16
Philly Favorites 1999
Various Artists
Collectables 3:42
4 Smooth Soul Legends 1999
Various Artists
Double Play Records 3:23
Definitive Collection 1999 Camden / BMG International 3:20
Body + Soul: Sweet Seduction 2000
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:22
The Official American Bandstand Library of Rock & Roll 2000
Various Artists
Atlantic 3:21
Old School Soul, Vol. 2 2000
Various Artists
Thump Records 3:15
Hey Love, Vol. 1 2001
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:18
Entertainment Weekly: The Greatest Hits 1968 2001
Various Artists
Buddha Records 3:20
La-La Means I Love You [BMG] 2001 BMG Special Products 3:19
Lowrider Oldies, Vols. 1-9: Cruisin' Chrome Series 2001
Various Artists
Thump Records 3:23
Love Unlimited 2001
Various Artists
Telstar TV Records 3:18
La-La Means I Love You [Collectables] 2001 Collectables 3:19
Soul Spectacular! The Greatest Soul Hits of All Time 2002
Various Artists
Rhino 3:18
East Side Story, Vol. 1-12 2002
Various Artists
East Side Records 3:19
Old School Box of Soul 2002
Various Artists
Thump Records 3:15
The Hit Box, Vol. 2 2002
Various Artists
United Multi Consign 3:23
Gold Collection: Pop Love Songs 2002
Various Artists
St. Clair 3:23
Hot Summer Nights [K-Tel] 2003
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:18
Top Hits of the Sixties: Coolest Hits 2003
Various Artists
Collectables 3:45
The 70s Soul Jam, Vol. 1 2003
Various Artists
The Right Stuff 4:18
The Incredible Soul Collection 2003
Various Artists
Rhino 3:19
Forever Gold 2003 St. Clair 3:23
Real 60's R&B [Disc 3] 2003
Various Artists
BMG
Real 60's: R&B 2004
Various Artists
BMG Special Products
Dance With Me 2004
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group 3:22
Soul Searchin' [Northquest] 2005
Various Artists
Northquest 3:22
Love Songs 2005 BMG Heritage / Arista/Legacy 3:20
Midnight Soul: Late Night Love 2005
Various Artists
The Right Stuff / Capitol 3:20
Rainy Night in Georgia 2005
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group 3:22
Golden Soul Hits 2006 CBUJ Distribution 3:24
No Image 2007 Goldenlane 3:25
Sweet Soul of the '70s: The Sound of Philadelphia 2009
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:18
La La Means I Love You [Excalibur] 2012 Excalibur 3:20
100 Hits: Ultimate Soul 2014
Various Artists
100 Hits 3:18
No Image
Various Artists
X5 3:23
No Image
Various Artists
X5 3:23
No Image
Various Artists
San Juan Ltd. 3:23
blue highlight denotes editor's pick