The Ambassadors – 1969 – Soul Summit
Amazing work by a group that you’ve probably never heard of! The Ambassadors are an incredible Philly soul harmony group – of the sort that never made it out of the city in the pre-Philly International years, but who had a polish and quality that was every bit as great as bigger-name acts from Chicago or New York.
The harmonies on the record are mindblowing – the kind of raw and sweet at the same time that was the Philly calling card on the group soul scene – and arrangements are by a young Bobby Martin, with help from Philly studio legends like Vince Montana, Norman Harris, Leon Huff, and Bobby Eli.
A1 I Really Love You 2:32
A2 Can’t Take My Eyes Off You 3:52
A3 Music (Makes You Wanna Dance) 3:02
A4 You Gave Me Somebody to Love 3:04
A5 Storm Warning 2:44
A6 Ain’t Got the Love (Of One Girl on My Mind) 2:29
B1 I Dig You Baby 3:00
B2 You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ 4:50
B3 A.W.O.L. (Away Without Love) 2:17
B4 Yes I’m Ready / I’ll Try Something New 3:33
B5 If I’m All You Got (I’m All You Need) 2:30
Formed in the mid-1960’s and soon came to the attention of Arctic Record Company co-owner and Philly radio star Jimmy Bishop.
Following limited success with their three singles on Atlantic between the end of 1967 and the summer of 1968, they signed to Arctic Record Company.
They are best remembered for their one hit, “I Really Love You” which was released in 1969, as well as their sole, highly sought-after album, that have a built a myth of holy grail among the northern soul circles.
Three of the Ambassadors, Herley Johnson Jr., Robert Todd and Orlando Oliphant later formed Creme D’Cocoa.
Although this is filled out with covers of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin‘”, “Yes I’m Ready” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You“, on the whole it’s a solid and varied album of early Gamble/Huff-styled Philadelphia soul. Even though Gamble and Huff’s own contributions were peripheral (Jimmy Bishop produced, Gamble co-wrote the small hit “I Really Love You” and Huff played piano), several musicians who would play in Gamble-Huff’s house bands participated.
The harmonies are lively, the arrangements (by Bobby Martin, who would also work with Gamble-Huff) satisfyingly busy, and the material a bit ordinary but serviceable. Philly soul fiends may consider it a lost nugget of sorts; the three non-LP bonus tracks on the CD reissue include a couple of raucous live cuts with a straighter R&B feel.