“All The Way From Philadelphia” – The Legendary 3 Tenors of Soul (2007)
January 8, 2009
Everyone who knows me well knows that I love music. But did you know that my favorite instruments are piano, guitar and voice? And did you know that my favorite vocal of all is a smooth male tenor voice? I can and have listened to Eddie Kendrick sing to me all day, day after day, without stopping.
Ronald Isley, Ron Banks and even Luciano Pavarotti can make me swoon. Ah yes, I love a tenor. So obviously when I first heard of this particular project back in ’07 I was excited.
But there wasn’t much promotion and by the time the CD was released I had a hard time finding it and/or remembering it until I ran across a copy sitting all by itself, on an otherwise empty shelf, at my local K-Mart Super Store. The price tag was extremely expensive at $17.99 plus my local 6 per cent sales tax — but I figured it was now or never and so I took the plunge. I really wanted to hear what these vocal idols of mine from the Seventies had done under the direction of the talented Bobby Eli over 20 years since their hey-day!
One third of vocalizing belonged to lead singer Russell Thompkins, Jr. of The Stylistics. They had a string of back to back hit LPs in the Seventies and I recall playing “Spades” in the student lounge and listening to their LPs over and over again. “Stone in Love With You” in particular has to be the most loved soul ballad of it’s time. Simply spine tingling vocals by Mr. Thompkins.
Another third of the vocalizing in this project was assigned to Mr. Ted Mills of the group “Blue Magic.” You had to be living on another planet if you don’t recall, with fond memories, the song “Sideshow” with Mills’ soaring tenor vocal lead or Mills’ pleading to “Look Me Up!”
Thirdly we have William Hart of the Hart Brothers and ” The Delfonics” and “La, La Means I Love You” fame. What a lineup — eh?
Well I have listened to the set about a dozen times now. I have my favorites and the gentlemen seem to be in good (not great) voice 20 years later, but the CD was not quite what I expected. Don’t get me wrong because I enjoy listening to it. Perhaps my expectations were just too high? Or were they?
The songs selected are just remakes made copying the same vocal stylings and musical arrangements of the originals. Perhaps with different song selections the gentlemen could have infused more of their own personal riffs and signatures?
Thompkins’ performances were the best followed by Mills’. But Hart had no lead vocals: he performed in only a supporting/harmony capacity for whatever reason.
This is the track list:
1. Caravan of Love – The Isleys have the definitive version. This was just a cover IMHO.
2. Too Much Heaven. Thompkins, on lead vocal, did put some of his own personality in this Bee Gees remake.
3. Grateful. Mills took lead here and did a nice job on this song.
4. All the Way from Philadelphia. Seems to be written just for this set. It is not a cover and therefore the freshest thing on the CD IMHO. Very nice.
5. A Love of Your Own. One of the best remakes of the bunch. AWB, the originators, perform on this track. Enjoy.
6. Fantasy. Mills took lead here but no one can ever top EWF’s original with Phillip Bailey, nor should anyone ever try to. This is an example of a song that should not be covered.
7. How Could I Let You Get Away. Like Track 6 — this is a song that should not be covered. The Spinner’s version is gospel and that is that! Nice note for note and lick for lick cover but the Spinners’ original is the ultimate!
8. I Can’t Go For That No Can Do. The 3 Tenors share leads on this one, originated by Hall & Oates. This track and track 5 are probably the two best covers on this very short set IMHO.
9. Where Are all My Friends. Routine cover. Nothing new.
10. That’s What Friends Are For. Routine cover. Nothing new.
All in all this is a mediocre outing that I spent way to much for. If you are interested or a collector I would say purchase it used or download it cheaply. I did not opt for a cheaper download/digital purchase because I wanted liner the notes. But you won’t miss anything if you download a digital purchase because there are no detailed notes to speak of in the packaging. Let my loss be your gain. 😉