Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1074

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Gamble & Huff: That Philly feelin'

Gamble & Huff
Gamble & Huff

To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of one of the greatest black music labels of all time - the legendary Philadelphia songwriting/production duo Kenny Gamble & Leon Huffâs iconic Philadelphia International Records - UK-based Harmless Records are, over the next couple of months, set to release four brand-new âPhilly 40â PIR releases, all of which have been eagerly anticipated across the globe.

These in turn comprise: âPhiladelphia International: The Re-Editsâ (21 club-friendly Philly re-edits all fully approved by Gamble & Huff and done by PIR enthusiasts from across the world); âPhiladelphia International: The Roots Of PIRâ (which finds soul DJ Richard Searling compiling a collection of pre-Philadelphia International gems from the Gamble & Huff stable, along with an exclusive Kenny Gamble DVD interview); âPhiladelphia International: The Tom Moulton Remixesâ (where the Godfather of the Disco Mix remixes 15 more original Philly International tracks to add to l6 of his best original PIR mixes); plus âPhiladelphia International: 40th Anniversary Box Setâ (a 10-CD deluxe box-set compiled by former âBlues & Soulâ contributor Ralph Tee, together with 60-page booklet plus an exclusive Kenny Gamble DVD interview).

All of which in turn provides highly interesting conversation-fodder, as in-awe âBlues & Soulâ Assistant Editor Pete Lewis meets up with the globally-revered Kenny Gamble for an early-evening interview at Demon Recordsâ West End HQ.

PETE: How do you generally feel about celebrating Philadelphia International Recordsâ 40th Anniversary?

KENNY: âWhat makes me really happy about celebrating this 40th Anniversary by releasing these four albums is that it gives everybody - including the industry - an opportunity to re-look at Philly International, what we stood for, and the quality of our MUSIC. I mean, 40 years is a long time for ANYTHING! And when, in addition to having the label itself, you consider that as Gamble & Huff weâve actually been songwriting and producing for almost 50 years now, that definitely makes for a pretty substantial time to be working TOGETHER! And I can genuinely say that throughout that time weâve always tried to maintain our INTEGRITY. You know, the industry has changed a lot during the last 40 years - particularly when you look at how labels like Motown and Stax are now part of big conglomerates - and so you too also have to adjust to the way times CHANGE. Which is why we at Philly do now have associates and partners all over the WORLD that we license our music to - and so far Iâm happy to say that our music has been able to maintain itself and is still in DEMAND! You know, people still love it, they still use it in movies and television... So yeah, I guess one of the things that pleases us the most is the SUSTAINABILITY of our music over the last 40years.â

PETE: So what are your ideas on the âPhiladelphia International: The Re-Editsâ album - which sees 21 Philly tracks from the Seventies and Eighties now being re-tooled by some of PIRâs prominent modern-day clubland supporters from all over the world?

KENNY: âI LIKE it! You know, I particularly like the fact that many of the songs theyâve used werenât GIGANTIC hits but were more kinda underground hits in the CLUBS. Like I really appreciate what Morning Star have done to Jean Carnâs âWas That All It Wasâ - which in fact is also currently in a movie called âPreciousâ, which was directed by Lee Daniels and stars Monique. Plus I also really like the way Deep&Disco have re-worked (The OâJaysâ) âDarlinâ Darlinâ Babyâ. Because, though they cut a lot of our original track out, itâs still very CREATIVE! Which to me is the exciting PART of all this - just to see how someone else will take your song, or your production, and put their own INTERPRETATION on it... So yeah, to see all these young guys re-edit songs like (Billy Paulâs) "Let The Dollar Circulate" and (The Jones Girlsâ) "Youâre Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else" I think has not only made these songs good for todayâs clubs, but also given new life to the Philly sound ITSELF.â

PETE: Another of the new album releases - "The Roots Of PIR" - will showcase some of your pre-Philadelphia International songs and productions. How do you feel about that?

KENNY: âWell, Iâve been here at the record labelâs offices most of today - and what Iâve found is that people have been bringing songs to me that Iâd totally FORGOTTEN about! And I actually think itâs great that you have here a group of people who are doing so much work in pulling up all these soul songs and old productions that go way back into the SIXTIES! You know, itâs actually very inspiring for me to SEE that - and itâs something you canât find anywhere else but here in the UK! You know, you canât find people anywhere else who love The Sound Of Philadelphia so MUCH! I mean, Iâve got people lâve been talking to here that know EVERY INCH of the MUSIC - and that to me is a real TRIBUTE!... So yeah, I think "The Roots Of PIR" will not only be an educational piece, but will also be something thatâll tell the story of how we EVOLVED! Because, you know, we had the same musicians in 1962 as we did in 1972, 1982, 1992â¦. So youâll hear how they evolved as players, and also how Gamble & Huff evolved as WRITERS.â

PETE: "The Tom Moulton Remixes" album meanwhile promises to feature said inventor of the 12â format returning to the label where he started with 15 new remixes of original Philly tracksâ¦

KENNY: âWell, every time Iâve seen Moulton over the years heâs been like âLet me do another remix, let me do another remixâ - and so it makes me happy to see that now thatâs actually HAPPENING! Because heâs a dedicated person who truly specialises in remixing other peopleâs MUSIC. You know, itâs always great to see the approach he has when taking something that weâve obviously done our best to construct and then develop as a finished PRODUCT! Itâs like, along comes this guy who says âWell, I wanna take the drum outta here; Iâm gonna take the voice outta here; I think I should take these background vocals from here and put them HEREâ⦠I mean, while itâs still the same song we wrote and produced, Moulton is just somebody who always reconstructs things in his own WAY! And I actually think a remixer of his calibre deserves a lotta credit for being able to reassemble something while at the same time making it so inspiring and ENERGETIC! You know, Tom Mouton is known all over the WORLD for his excellent ability to remix records - and to me he deserves all the credit he GETS!â


The album "Philadelphia International: The Re-Edits" is released on January 16, followed by âPhiladelphia International: The Roots Of PIRâ on January 30; âPhiladelphia International: The Tom Moulton Remixesâ on February 13; and âPhiladelphia International: 40th Anniversary Box Setâ on February 27, all through Harmless

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