Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff may have been the Lennon and McCartney of Philly soul, but Thom Bell was its George Harrison. Penning thoughtful, often spiritual songs (usually with his songwriting partner, Linda Creed) and setting them to mature, sometimes almost symphonic arrangements, Bell was a master who rarely gets his due. "People Make the World Go Round" was one of Bell and Creed's most popular songs, covered by everyone from Michael Jackson to ultra-annoying Bill Cosby protégée Raven-Symone, but the best version was the Stylistics' 1972 hit. Bell's arrangement is strongly reminiscent of Burt Bacharach's mature work with Dionne Warwick -- the muted trumpet and xylophone parts are downright derivative -- but there's also a characteristic funkiness to the organ and electric piano-based groove. (There's also a nagging, hollow-tuned percussion sound similar to some types of African drums that's as prominent as the cowbell in Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper," and almost as impossible to ignore once you've noticed it.) The song's focal point, however, is the falsetto lead vocal of Russell Thompkins Jr. Always the Stylistics' secret weapon, Thompkins gives possibly the finest performance of his career here. In lesser hands, Creed's lyrics about trash strikes and air pollution often sound like self-righteous finger pointing, but Thompkins' restrained vocals are tinged with sadness, not anger, which gives the song a melancholy yet hopeful air that fits the lyrics precisely. Although probably not the Stylistics' masterpiece -- "Betcha By Golly Wow" holds that title -- "People Make the World Go Round" is one of the great socially consciousness soul songs of the early '70s.