Various Artists

Deep in the Philly Groove

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In line with the company's generally excellent R&B compilations, Kent's Deep in the Philly Groove does right by the stellar legacy of Stan Watson's '70s soul label, Philly Groove. Along with Thom Bell, Kenny Gamble, and Leon Huff's Philly International Records, Philly Groove helped define the '70s soul sound and set the stage for a wide range of R&B and pop hits to come -- Gamble & Huff's Philly bump rhythm certainly had an impact on disco. Featuring two of the biggest hits from the label's most successful group, the Delfonics ("La-La (Means I Love You)" and "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)"), the 24 tracks spotlight equally worthy harmony groups like First Choice (the female trio was the label's other success story, thanks to smashes like "Armed and Extremely Dangerous" and "Smarty Pants") and Nat Turner's Rebellion, featuring Major Harris, a future Delfonic, and Phil Spratley, the singer who would replace Harold Melvin after his split from the Blue Notes. And this is not to forget several excellent cuts by Ben Aiken (a past beneficiary of Jerry Ragovoy's stellar production work at Roulette and Loma) and a few shots from the underling likes of Broadway Express and the Coup de Villes. Topped off with those choice Philly Groove charts (lush strings and vocals anchored by smooth soul-funk grooves) by Watson and Bell, Deep in the Philly Groove gives air to one of the best labels cutting sides during that fertile transition from early soul to high-tech funk and disco -- be sure to also check out the equally impressive sequel, Deeper in the Philly Groove.

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