martes, 21 de abril de 2009

First Choice: Armed & Extremely Dangerous (1973)

When it came to female Philly soul in the ‘70s First Choice were second to none. The girls were high school friends from Philadelphia who sang together as The Debronettes in the late ’60s. After contacting WDAS Radio DJ Georgie Woods, they were introduced to Philly soul guitarist/songwriter/producer Norman Harris and Delfonics manager Stan Watson. Their first release was a song written by Harris and Allan Felder, the pumping ‘This Is the House Where Love Died,’ which was leased to New York's Sceptor Records and issued on their Wand imprint in 1972. The single received airplay in Philly and other markets, but failed to chart nationally. Their next single, the Harris-produced ‘Armed and Extremely Dangerous,’ (with its urgent "calling all cars!" intro) was their first big hit, going to number 11 R&B in early 1973 for Stan Watson's Philly Groove label, which was distributed by Bell Records. It was also a Top 20 UK hit. The Armed and Extremely Dangerous album was released in fall 1973 and it was co-produced by Watson and Harris, and mostly arranged by Harris. The credits are a who's who of Philadelphia's finest, already utilised on Gamble & Huff recordings as M.F.S.B., with names like Vincent Montana, Bobby Eli, drummer Earl Young and percussionist Larry Washington. Beginning many of the songs unaccompanied, Young's distinctive 4/4 shuffle beats and Washington's energetic rhythms would in time become the backbone of many a release on the Salsoul label - the premiere Disco label. Lyrically the album could hardly be further from the social commentary and spiritual messages of Gamble & Huff. Aside from a fair reworking of Al Green's ‘Love & Happiness’, titles like ‘Smarty Pants’ and ‘Newsy Neighbours’ speak volumes about a fun, lighter side to soul - but still using that all-important Philadelphia expertise. The title track itself is the most wonderful combination of sublime music and pure cheesiness. Unsuprisingly First Choice's best known songs were released on the Salsoul label a few years later.,

First Choice on Soul Train singing 'Smarty Pants', 1973:

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