Various Artists

The Sound of Philadelphia: Gamble & Huff's Greatest Hits

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The songwriting, arranging, and production team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff defined and prefigured the landscape for disco and contemporary urban R&B in the early '70s with their strings, horns, and sugary groove approach to making records, and although by the end of the decade the formula began to wear thin and feel tired, uninspired, and stale, the fact remains that the duo's Philadelphia International Records imprint was to the 1970s what Berry Gordy's Motown Records was to the 1960s -- a hitmaking machine. This 14-track collection proves the point, although it really only scratches the surface of Gamble & Huff's impressive catalog. Included here are inescapable classics like the O'Jays' "Love Train" and "Use Ta Be My Girl," the Three Degrees' silk-perfect "When Will I See You Again," and Billy Paul's melodramatic confectionary -- but absolutely infectious -- "Me and Mrs. Jones," all of which are undeniable pop culture artifacts burned into the memory of any soul who has ever been within earshot of a radio. It's an impressive legacy, really, and this set makes for a fine introduction to it.

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