Norman Harris

The Harris Machine

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As a founding member of the Philadelphia International label's influential house band, MFSB, guitarist Norman Harris was a vital cog in the sound and development of the Philly soul aesthetic, but his lone solo LP bears few of the hallmarks of his classic work in support of producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff -- The Harris Machine is just as rote and robotic as its title suggests, settling for assembly-line arrangements and pedestrian compositions. The record is a product of its times -- the sophistication and subtlety of vintage Philly soul had long since given way to the thick, overly dramatic string arrangements and mechanical rhythms of disco, leaving little space for Harris' graceful, fluid fretwork to operate. When he abandons disco in favor of old-school jazz-funk on the Latin-tinged "In Good Faith," The Harris Machine recaptures the ingenuity of his seminal work with MFSB, but such moments are few and far between.