Various Artists

Philly Groove Story, Vol. 1

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Riding the Philly soul sound alongside Gamble & Huff's Philadelphia International label, Philly Groove brought another dimension of sound to an era that couldn't get enough of the city's patented slick soul. It was Philly Groove that put the Delfonics on the map in the late '60s and, conversely, it was that band that returned the favor, by propelling the small label into the mainstream. The label's sound was instantly identifiable, keynoting a dizzying roster with smooth grooves and lush arrangements that not only spun couples around the clubs, but also catered to the cool cocktail crew as well. And, even through the label itself had effectively disbanded by the mid-'70s, the Philly Groove sound would continue on as a loose collective that peppered assorted major labels for years after. With such a scattershot history, it's a welcome gift to have this rich history bound up into two volumes across the U.K. release Philly Groove Story. Philly Groove Story, Vol. 1 brings out a handful of the label's classic cuts, 14 outstanding songs sandwiched between First Choice's 1973 hit "Armed and Extremely Dangerous" and the group's Top Ten R&B "The Player" that followed one year later. Sound Experience weighs in with its horn-laden jam "Boogie Woogie," while the Delfonics' sweet falsetto is revisited across their classic "I Don't Want to Make You Wait." Add "Straight from the Heart" by Loose Change, Ultra High Frequency's "We're on the Right Track," and the Philly Groove Orchestra's version of another Delfonics hit, "Didn't I Blow Your Mind," and the genre's sonic highlights have been completely revisited. Lighter than the funk that was floating around at the same time, Philly Groove gave soul fans a sweet alternative, an upbeat groove that jived around disco while keeping classic soul in the forefront.

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