A House on Fire: The Rise and Fall of Philadelphia Soul

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Oxford University Press, Nov 15, 2004 - Social Science - 368 pages
2 Reviews
"If You Don't Know Me By Now," "The Love I Lost," "The Soul Train Theme," "Then Came You," "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now"--the distinctive music that became known as Philly Soul dominated the pop music charts in the 1970s. In A House on Fire, John A. Jackson takes us inside the musical empire created by Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, and Thom Bell, the three men who put Philadelphia Soul on the map. Here is the eye-opening story of three of the most influential and successful music producers of the seventies. Jackson shows how Gamble, Huff, and Bell developed a black recording empire second only to Berry Gordy's Motown, pumping out a string of chart-toppers from Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, the Spinners, the O'Jays, the Stylistics, and many others. The author underscores the endemic racism of the music business at that time, revealing how the three men were blocked from the major record companies and outlets in Philadelphia because they were black, forcing them to create their own label, sign their own artists, and create their own sound. The sound they created--a sophisticated and glossy form of rhythm and blues, characterized by crisp, melodious harmonies backed by lush, string-laden orchestration and a hard-driving rhythm section--was a glorious success, producing at least twenty-eight gold or platinum albums and thirty-one gold or platinum singles. But after their meteoric rise and years of unstoppable success, their production company finally failed, brought down by payola, competition, a tough economy, and changing popular tastes. Funky, groovy, soulful--Philly Soul was the classic seventies sound. A House on Fire tells the inside story of this remarkable musical phenomenon.
 

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Good but flawed
Seems to be the only easily available book on Philly soul. Very enjoyable read errors e.g Wrong title for Evelyn King's debut hit and no mention of Dee Dee Warwick suggests the author has little first hand knowledge of the music.

Contents

1 Ill Get By 19421962
3
2 Who Do You Love 1963
23
3 MixedUp ShookUp Girl 1964
30
4 Expressway to Your Heart 19651967
44
5 Cowboys to Girls1968
60
6 Only the Strong Survive 1969
78
7 Betcha by Golly Wow 19701971
92
8 Love Train1972
109
13 Philadelphia Freedom 1976
183
14 Kiss and Say Goodbye 19771978
206
15 Aint No Stoppin Us Now 19791982
224
16 Love Need and Want You 19832001
247
Epilogue 20022003
259
Song List
263
Gold and Platinum Records of Gamble Huff and Bell
273
Notes
275

9 Am I Black Enough for You? 1973
126
10 Ill Be Around 1974
137
11 TSOP The Sound of Philadelphia 1975
152
12 Wake Up Everybody 1975
168

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About the author (2004)

John A. Jackson is the author of the award-winning books Big Beat Heat: Alan Freed and the Early Years of Rock and Roll and American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock and Roll Empire. He lives outside Tampa, Florida.

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