Teddy Pendergrass


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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier

In the midst of his late-'70s hot streak, Teddy Pendergrass slowed down his groove somewhat for most of Teddy, his third excellent album in three years, and reprised the hushed tone and bedroom motifs that had made "Close the Door" such a success a year earlier. Pendergrass had sung bedroom ballads before "Close the Door," but that song in particular resonated -- and still resonates -- with his listeners, Philly soul and quiet storm fans alike. It's not surprising, then, that Teddy begins with back-to-back seducers penned by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff -- "Come Go With Me" and "Turn Off the Lights" -- that are clearly modeled after "Close the Door," and wonderfully so at that. Next come "I'll Never See Heaven Again" and "All I Need Is You," which keep the tempo laid-back and the mood sentimental, closing out the first side smoothly. The second side gets off to a jumping start with "If You Know Like I Know," one of the most ferocious songs Pendergrass ever recorded, a sweaty disco workout driven by a funky bassline that just doesn't stop and a long-winded rant of bellowed pleading. "Do Me" likewise jumps along but does so more lightly and playfully, and then "Set Me Free" and "Life Is a Circle" again up the intensity level and showcase Pendergrass in a frantic mood. The bipolar nature of Teddy, with its quiet storm first side and disco-soul second, gives it a consistent flow that prolongs the mutually stimulating moods of each side. This is a marked difference from the likewise rock-solid Teddy Pendergrass (1977) and Life Is a Song Worth Singing (1978), which generally alternated up-tempo steppers cuts with down-tempo slow jams. As such, Teddy does foreshadow Pendergrass' drift toward mass-market studiocraft, but he's far from being formulaic here on Teddy, where he's still ablaze and bearing the distinct mark of top-shelf Philly International.

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