Thursday, 27 February 2014
"Love Is The Message" by MFSB. A Review Of The 1973 Philadelphia International Records Album Now Remastered And Expanded on CD In 2012 By Big Break Records Of The UK (BBR).
This review is part of my "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters Soul, Funk & Jazz Fusion" Download Book available to buy on Amazon to either your PC or Mac (it will download the Kindle software to read the book for free to your toolbar). Click on the link below to go my Author's Page for this and other related publications:
“…Love Is The Message…”
On the front sleeve of this 1973 album is a collage photo of something you don’t see every day on a SOUL album. There’s a deathly skull beneath a First World War helmet, Second World War Nazi Swastikas to the left, Fifties hooded Clansmen to the right and a Sixties atomic mushroom cloud below. The early Seventies saw Black Consciousness explode on the music scene like never before. And this wasn’t just songs about ‘girl I miss you’ or ‘girl let’s get it on tonight’ - this was a full-on and heartfelt expression of a need and rage for the inequality, bigotry and segregation in American society to stop. Up step Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff with one eye on the commercial and one hand on the heart. “Love” was indeed the message. Here are the Mother Father Sister and Brother details…
UK released September 2012 on Big Break Records BBRCD 0179 (Barcode 5013929047938) – tracks 1 to 8 are the vinyl album “Love Is The Message” released December 1973 in the USA on Philadelphia International KZ 32707 (54:35 minutes). Tracks 9 and 10 are bonuses - “Love Is The Message” (Single Version) and “TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)” (A Tom Moulton Mix) – both tracks featuring The Three Degrees.
The 16-page booklet is the usual great job done by BBR – rare foreign 7” picture sleeves, US 7” Philly labels, liner notes by Rico “Superbizzee” Washington (writes for USA magazines and hosts a radio show) with discography info as well. But the big news as ever is the NICK ROBBINS and WAYNE A. DICKSON remaster which is incredible – beautiful lush sound – real presence.
It’s an album of instrumentals some of which work – some don’t while others just feel like schlock (“My One And Only” and “Touch me In The Morning”) or filler (”Zack’s Fanfare” which appears twice). In between are those great Philly dancers – and how good is it to hear the full album cut of “Love is The Message” at 6:36 minutes. The chipper and almost note=-for-note cover of Johnnie Taylor’s “Cheaper To Keep Her” has always been a favourite of mine (he had a hit with it on Stax earlier in 1973). It ends on a high note with the brilliant Jack Faith and Bruce Hawes instrumental “Bitter Sweet” – as cool and as lovely as Philly gets.
It’s all genius by any stretch of the imagination but what is on here now sounds stunning – and if you’re a fan of Seventies Soul or Philly – a must own.
PS: If you want more MFSB - they are the backing band on teh fabulous Billy Paul album "War Of The Gods" - I’ve also reviewed these other Big Break Records (BBR) CD releases:
1. Hot Property – HEATWAVE (1979) [see REVIEW]
2. Candles - HEATWAVE (1980) [see REVIEW]
3. Harvest For The World - THE ISLEY BROTHERS (1976) [see REVIEW]
4. Go For Your Guns - THE ISLEY BROTHERS (1977) [see REVIEW]
5. I Miss You - HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUE NOTES (1972) [known as "Harold Melvin
6. The Blue Notes" in the UK] [see REVIEW]
7. Black & Blue - HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUE NOTES (1973) [see REVIEW]
8. Love Is The Message - MFSB (1973) [See REVIEW]
9. All The Faces Of... - BUDDY MILES (1974) [see REVIEW]
10. I Can See Clearly Now - JOHNNY NASH (1972) [see REVIEW]
11. In Philadelphia - O'JAYS (1969) [see REVIEW]
12. Back Stabbers - O'JAYS (1972) [see REVIEW]
13. Ship Ahoy - O'JAYS (1973) [see REVIEW]
14. Ebony Woman - BILLY PAUL (1970 and 1973) [See REVIEW]
15. 360 Degrees Of Billy Paul - BILLY PAUL (1972) [See REVIEW]
16. War Of The Gods - BILLY PAUL (1973) [See REVIEW]
17. Smoked Sugar - SMOKED SUGAR (1975) [see REVIEW]
18. Just As I Am - BILL WITHERS (1971) [debut LP on Sussex/A&M Records] [see REVIEW]