Review by AMG
Rip, Research, Posting and additional info’s by Nikos
Smooth female soul from one of Philly’s hottest female trios – Gamble & Huff‘s big answer to First Choice, and an equally important force in 70s female soul! The album’s got a nice mixture of Philly groove and smoother pop arrangements from the likes of Norman Harris, Bobby Martin, Lenny Pakula, and Richard Rome – and tracks include the hit “When Will I See You Again“.
A1 Dirty Ol’ Man 4:33
A2 Can’t You See What You’re Doing to Me 2:31
A3 A Woman Needs a Good Man 4:19
A4 When Will I See You Again 2:58
B1 I Didn’t Know 2:50
B2 I Like Being a Woman 3:56
B3 If and When 7:07
B4 Year of Decision 2:42
The divas of Gamble & Huff‘s Philadelphia International stable, the Three Degrees debuted their self-titled album for the label in 1973 before they hit the mainstream with MFSB and “TSOP” the following year. And, although they are so often piggybacked on that glory, it’s important to remember that this remarkable trio was already established as one of the country’s premier female vocal groups. With successful sides for Roulette already under their belt, The Three Degrees found them combining their already tried and true R&B style with Gamble & Huff’s trademark orchestral, instrumental flourish. It was a heavenly marriage that easily, and obviously, brought the band into the Top 40. With the lion’s share of “good” material crowded on side one, the set is highlighted by the opening “Dirty Ol’ Man,” which brought the band’s harmonies cascading over the opening strings before they descended into edgier waters. Following apace is a wonderful version of “A Woman Needs a Good Man,” before closing with “When Will I See you Again” — the gorgeous, breathless ballad that nearly topped the charts in 1974. Elsewhere, the band tempers the obvious and silly “I Like Being a Woman” with the overlooked gem “If and When.” The song, one of several written by Philly International bigwig Bunny Sigler, is a rough-and-tumble ballad that heats up by merging classic ’70s rock elements with the Three Degrees’ girl group ethics. Although it’s ultimately patchy in places, The Three Degrees was a fine introduction for the partnership between the band and the label that would put them on the map. A fine bridge between sugar soul and the sexy disco strings lurking in the band’s future.
After Philadelphia International Records had established itself with early hits from the O’Jays, Billy Paul, and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, the debut release of the Three Degrees in 1973 was the label’s first release by a female group. I was unaware that the timeless classic “When Will I See You Again” was the third single release from the record. The Three Degrees may have been the most underrated act on the label. The ladies had a wonderful sound and vocal blend together, which they demonstrate through all of the songs written for them on this record.
There is a lot of great music on this record besides their classic single “When Will I See You Again“. “Dirty Ol’ Man“, the first single released, was perfect for the discos, and it was a great decision to add an extended mix of this song to this reissue. I also really liked “I Didn’t Know“. Those were my favorite uptempo songs on the recording.
I don’t think the ladies ever really got their “props” on the ballad numbers that they did. “A Woman Needs A Good Man” and “If And When” are both examples of great songs, great orchestral arrangements and beautiful, well blended singing. I found “If And When” to have a very creative arrangement.
Adding both “TSOP” and “Love Is The Message” to this reissue was also a great decision by the reissue’s producers.
This LP is definitely the best example of the softer, feminine side of the Philly Sound, and it should be a must for any Philly Soul fan!