Teddy Pendergrass – 1977 – Teddy Pendergrass

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Main Review by Soul Express

Rip, posting and additional info’s by Nikos

It was only a matter of time before Teddy Pendergrass would leave Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes, the group he’d made his name in. As their lead singer, he had delighted with his gospel-influenced vocals on hits such as If You Don’t Know Me By Now and the uplifting Wake Up Everybody. In 1977, he finally went solo.

Working with the cream of Philadelphia International Records’ (PIR) production team, Pendergrass built on the template that Marvin Gaye established on Let’s Get It On and I Want You, bypassed the cerebral and aimed straight for the bedroom.

Teddy Pendergrass was never going to be everyone’s cup of tea. As a largely non-writing performer he lacked the vision of his peers – Isaac Hayes, Barry White and Marvin Gaye. However, as a vocalist, he often equalled and sometimes bettered his rivals. Before his work became a little too clichéd, Teddy Pendergrass captures him at his peak.

Tracks
A1
You Can’t Hide From Yourself 4:06
A2
Somebody Told Me 5:13
A3
Be Sure 5:17
A4
And If I Had 4:23
B1
I Don’t Love You Anymore 3:59
B2
The Whole Town’s Laughing At Me 4:28
B3
Easy, Easy, Got To Take It Easy 4:55
B4
The More I Get, The More I Want 4:27

There couldn’t have been a more favourable environment for Teddy’s debut than Gamble & Huff and Philadelphia International Records. They had worked with Teddy for years and knew what they wanted to do with him. Teddy appreciated the fact that music came first for Gamble & Huff and that they varied their production style to suit the artist they were working with, and not vice versa. As Teddy put it, they had a rare gift of artistry combined with killer commercial instinct.

Of course these guys, Gamble & Huff, John Whitehead, Gene McFadden, Victor Carstarphen, Sherman Marshall (and later Thom Bell and Dexter Wansel), arrangers like Bobby Martin and Jack Faith and all the brilliant musicians did so much amazing stuff over the years that even this album, wonderful as it is, is just one of their achievements. Still, I think the whole lot of them should be knighted for this album alone. The level of musicianship is impeccable throughout and the abundance of tasty nuances in the production and arrangements is incredible.

The Gamble & Huff produced debut single, I Don’t Love You Anymore, hit # 7 on the R&B charts and was an impressive showcase for the album. After a brief percussive interlude, it quickly gets to the point and proceeds as a dynamically rolling piece of uptempo soul with an overall musical atmosphere that is decidedly uplifting despite the lyrics. I especially like the part where Teddy adds some typically rough and emotional ad libs over a tinkling piano and guitar picking. The McFadden, Whitehead & Carstarphen production, The More I Get, the More I Want, is a similar hard-driving percussive uptempo track with an insistent bassline. The opening track You Can’t Hide from Yourself is even more relentless with its rock-solid backing and horn riffs that hit you like a boxer hits a heavy bag. The way Gamble & Huff have combined the funk elements with the solid tune and Teddy’s rough’n rugged vocals is simply wonderful.

These three dynamite uptempo tunes are all brilliant, but, amazingly enough, the slow material is even more impressive. My number one choice would have to be Somebody Told Me, and this is despite the fact that the religious lyrics are totally irrelevant to me. A song of many layers, it starts with just a touch of percussion and a guitar introducing the melody, then Teddy’s gentle voice utters the sublime chorus line, the rhythm kicks in, Teddy adds a little stamina, the dramatic strings emerge, there’s an angelic choir, and little by little Teddy kicks his majestic voice into full gear. And so it goes on evolving, with something constantly happening. There’s subtlety, there’s strength and conviction. A true masterpiece and one of my all-time favourite tunes.

Then there’s the second single (R&B # 16), the instantly captivating yet profound ballad composition The Whole Town’s Laughing at Me. Of course, the arrangement is again faultless, but the tune itself is the main attraction for me. Why is it so good? I really couldn’t tell. Why is it that a Beatles tune that millions of people worship makes me want to vomit, but this one touches my soul? I have no idea, and to tell you the truth I prefer it that way.

As the final addition to my personal top three, I would have to single out Easy, Easy, Got to Take It Easy. The swaying rhythm instantly creates a carefree atmosphere and within seconds the melody and Teddy’s interpretation grab your full attention. The lyrics and overall feel are purely carnal, yet this in no way diminishes the musical value of this wonderful soul floater.

What’s left? And If I Had starts in an almost cinematic atmosphere with dramatic touches of sax and guitar, and Teddy seems charged with contained emotion. Towards the end, with the background singers and the typical passionate finale, the song starts to sound more like a typical R&B ballad, and the end result is quite fascinating. The easy-going swayer Be Sure seemed to me the most ordinary outing, but as an album filler it is perfectly fine, particularly considering Teddy’s typically inspired interpretation.

A classic album.

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Conversation for album: Teddy Pendergrass – 1977 – Teddy Pendergrass

28 Comments
  • Gary
    Posted at 08:47h, 23 October 2012 Reply

    These songs still hold their meaning, don’t they? thumbs up.

  • Andrea
    Posted at 08:50h, 23 October 2012 Reply

    Wow! How one man put so much soul in each song.

  • Allen
    Posted at 00:21h, 24 October 2012 Reply

    Killer. Teddy was a brilliant singer.

  • Earl
    Posted at 08:52h, 25 October 2012 Reply

    Goodness me Teddy voice is excellent!!

  • Kissme
    Posted at 09:09h, 25 October 2012 Reply

    One of da greatest…

  • Norman
    Posted at 22:42h, 25 October 2012 Reply

    my dad’s favourite singer and mine also after so many years. He stands out.

  • Nikos
    Posted at 22:56h, 25 October 2012 Reply

    One love Teddy is the greatest, this is true soul.

  • Ben
    Posted at 18:31h, 26 October 2012 Reply

    This is cool! And classy!

  • Triumph7
    Posted at 18:37h, 26 October 2012 Reply

    What a piece of arrangement.
    Thanks for the great soul.

  • sergio
    Posted at 20:37h, 26 October 2012 Reply

    Uno de los mejores álbumes de la historia del soul… y del siglo XX
    Celestial

  • JJ
    Posted at 15:37h, 27 October 2012 Reply

    classic adult soul heaven from another lost icon !

  • Luigi
    Posted at 15:53h, 27 October 2012 Reply

    I can’t stop listening to this. I remember I had it on LP but I don’t any more.

  • K.P.S.
    Posted at 13:47h, 28 October 2012 Reply

    Genuine Philly Sound!!!

  • Joker
    Posted at 13:49h, 28 October 2012 Reply

    Such a classic. Love it and thanks for posting it!

  • Donovan
    Posted at 09:48h, 29 October 2012 Reply

    Love Teddy Bear. Classic.

  • Mick
    Posted at 09:49h, 29 October 2012 Reply

    Damn I miss the the 70’s!!! The music, the good food, the good people….the good times….

  • Freak
    Posted at 10:38h, 30 October 2012 Reply

    It’s heaven here. Much appreciated.

  • brotherpete
    Posted at 18:20h, 30 October 2012 Reply

    no download. Why no Rapidshare links anymore? 🙁

  • BelA
    Posted at 10:12h, 31 October 2012 Reply

    This guy died way too soon. Superb LP.

  • Ray
    Posted at 23:13h, 01 November 2012 Reply

    A gem. Respect for your hard work!

  • Jet
    Posted at 11:09h, 02 November 2012 Reply

    Back when the producer did more than throw an instrumental in…

  • Gabriel
    Posted at 23:50h, 05 November 2012 Reply

    Yesssss Sir: You’re absolutely right. This is a must have for every 70′s Soul Aficionado (like me). Thanks a thousand times!!!!!

  • SIK
    Posted at 00:26h, 08 November 2012 Reply

    A true masterpiece.

  • GRZA
    Posted at 02:28h, 18 November 2012 Reply

    Currently downloading…
    Thanks for the review and all.
    Cheers 😀

  • greg
    Posted at 22:31h, 20 November 2012 Reply

    back in the days when I was young I’m not a kid anymore but some days I sit and wish I was a kid again 😀

  • SES Nyembe
    Posted at 19:27h, 06 February 2013 Reply

    I like this site.It is the first time for me to be on this site.keep up good work.

  • TheJazzHoppa
    Posted at 23:59h, 03 July 2013 Reply

    i have this record already but i gotta show my appreciation for teddy, love him

  • Burt
    Posted at 19:34h, 15 June 2016 Reply

    Thanks

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