Posted in 1970's Albums

The Delfonics – The Delfonics (1970)

Bell Records SBLL 137

Soul music is a big part of my record collection, and lately when visiting vinyl fares I’ve picked up quite a few classic singles and albums including many purchases just based on a name or record label. Bell Records in the early 1970’s housed some of the best exponents of soul vocal harmony groups, many from the USA who did made a breakthrough into the UK.

This album typifies what I mean.

I bought this in 2016 for £4 at a vinyl fare at Wolverhampton based on it had a classic hit single, I knew the name of the group, and it was on Bell Records. Although it didn’t chart in the UK (US #61 Hot 100, #4 R&B Chart) it was recorded late 1969 early 1970 and this eponymous named album was released in the UK whilst they were signed to Philly Groove label in the USA.

Formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1965 and originally known as the Four Gents, the Delfonics classic lineup featured:  William Hart (born January 17, 1945, Washington, D.C.), Wilbert Hart (born October 19, 1947, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Randy Cain (born Herbert Randal Cain III May 2, 1945, Philadelphia; died April 9, 2009, Maple Shade Township, New Jersey).

Side 1

Side 1 starts with the classic single release “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time), a UK #22 and US #10 hit, winning a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group. Produced by Thom Bell it has a familiar sound like other contemporary groups such as The Chi-Lites, Drifters, Stylistics and Detroit Spinners. “Funny Feeling” is a more funky feeling almost Motown/Northern Soul sound with high lead falsetto vocals and harmonies. “When You Get Right Down To It” slows the tempo down and could be mistaken for a Sytlistics track, there is the full orchestra of strings and brass. Written by Barry Mann who was a part of the successful songwriting partnership with his wife, Cynthia Weil. Some of his classics include “You’ve lost That loving Feeling” and also “Saturday Night At The Movies” for the Drifters. “Baby I Love You” takes us back to the style of “Didn’t I” but each line of the verses delivered in a staccato style. Side 1 finishes with a fantastic mainly Instrumental track called “Delfonics Theme (How Could You)”. On first listen you could feel its crying out for lyrics, but actually this has everything, Drums, Strings, Brass, Organ, and the orchestra takes you on a journey and right at the end the Delfonics suddenly add a small vocal to fade out.

Side 2

Side 2 starts with “Trying To Make A Fool Of Me” Very uptempo and has a more soul/pop feel but still has the classic falsetto vocals, and lead seems to switch between all group members. “Down Is Up, Up is Down”, is a classic Northern Soul sound and I can see everyone up on the dance floor for this one. “Over and Over” is an attempt at a ballad and well executed. “Think About Me” has a more pop sound. “I Gave To You” finishes the album. Almost 6 minutes of pure vocal gymnastics. A last dance song. The album as a whole is worth my risk of choosing on the basis of one track.

Back of sleeve

 

 

The writing credits are mainly Thom Bell and vocalist William Hart, who on two tracks is the sole writer and of course the one Barry Mann track.

The Delfonics line up began to change as of 1971 when Randy Cain left and set up the group Blue Magic much in the same vain as the Stylistics. By 1975 because of various changes including Thom Bell moving to produce other artists the hits seemed to dry up and there were two versions of the Delfonics at the same time.

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Posted in 1970's Singles

Tell Him – Hello (1974)

Pentax Digital Camera
Bell Records BELL 1377

My first ever purchase of a single was in 1974. My Aunt Lily was working in the Birmingham Indoor Market and whenever we as a family went into town we’d go in and she her. Mom would often spend a good 30 minutes chatting, even though my aunt was supposed to be serving customers. Across the way was a record stall – Bailey’s records. All the latest 45’s were on display with the top 20 listed on a board. I can’t remember the cost, but my first single was “Tell Him” by Hello. I didn’t know it was a cover at the time, I just knew that it was “Glam Rock”.

The song was written by Bert Russell Berns a writer and producer during the 1960’s. He wrote “Twist and Shout” and Hang on Sloopy”. Originally the song was recorded as “Tell Her” in 1962 by Gil Hamilton aka Johnny Thunder with Berns producing. “The Exciters” then released their version as “Tell Him” late 1962 where it peaked in the US charts at #4 in early 1963. In the UK it was covered by Billie Davies and reached #10 also in early 1963.

Hello’s version was released in late 1974 and entered the top 40 at #32, climbing to #6 staying in the charts for 12 weeks. It was also a minor hit in Belgium and Germany. The track was produced by Mike Leander. Leander worked with such diverse artists like The Rolling Stones, The Drifters, The Glitter Band, Billy Fury and The Beatles.

This was at the height of Glam Rock for UK artists such as The Sweet, Marc Bolan, and Slade. I liked the singles Sweet were releasing and they were all over the radio and TV show “Top of the pops”, however by the time I was in a position to start spending my pocket money their hits were slowing down. Hello, seemingly the new kids on the block had an electric guitar based pop sound. Formed 1971 in London the group comprised of Bob Bradbury, Vic Faulkner, Jeff Allen and Keith Marshall. They only troubled the UK charts twice. Another single “New York Groove” peaked at #9 twelve months later.

Keith Marshall released a solo single “Only Crying” in 1981 which reached #12 in the UK