MFSB Origin Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States Genres Soul, R&B, funk, disco, jazz Years active 1970s Labels Philadelphia International Associated acts Teddy Pendergrass
Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes
McFadden & Whitehead
Past members Karl Chambers (deceased)
Norman Harris (deceased)
Roland Chambers (deceased)
Ronnie Baker (deceased)
Harold Ivory Williams
MFSB was a pool of more than thirty studio musicians based at Philadelphia’s famed Sigma Sound Studios. They worked closely with the production team of Gamble and Huff and producer/arranger Thom Bell, and backed up such groups as Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, the O’Jays, the Stylistics, the Spinners, Wilson Pickett, and Billy Paul.
In 1972, MFSB began recording as a named act for the Philadelphia International label. "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)" also known as the Soul Train theme was their first and most successful single. Released in March 1974, it peaked at #1 on the Billboard pop and R&B charts. "TSOP" was influential in establishing the disco sound. The track sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in April 1974.
Assembled by record producers Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, MFSB was the house band for their Philadelphia International Records label and originated the signature smooth "Philly sound" sound that dominated the early 1970s for the artists who recorded at the Sigma Sound Studios, including the O'Jays, the Spinners, the Bluenotes, The Delfonics, Blue Magic, Intruders, Three Degrees, Jerry Butler, and Teddy Pendergrass. Later in the decade, the collective would become known for the hi-hat-dominated disco sounds that became popular in the late 1970s with groups such as The Trammps, First Choice, Ripple and Double Exposure.
It was the 1972 release of their first album, Poinciana, that put them on the map. This marked the beginning of a string of instrumental hits that brought major attention to a large orchestra who laid the foundation for the Sound of Philadelphia. The line-up of musicians included Karl Chambers and Earl Young on drums; Norman Harris, Roland Chambers, Bobby Eli, and TJ Tindall on guitar; Winnie Wilford and Ronnie Baker on bass; Vincent Montana, Jr. and Larry Washington on vibes and percussion, Harold Ivory Williams on keyboards, plus Leon Huff and Thom Bell on keyboards and Don Renaldo on strings and horns featuring Rocco Bene on trumpet.
In the spring of 1974, Philadelphia International released an instrumental track which had been recorded by the band as the theme music for the television show Soul Train as a single. The record, titled "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)" reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and also topped the American R&B chart and adult contemporary chart. The success of "TSOP" launched a recording career for the band under their own name. MFSB albums and singles were released for the rest of the decade.
MFSB recorded a cover of The Nite-Liters's 1971 instrumental "K-Jee", which gained some popularity when it was featured in a key scene in the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever. It is also included in the soundtrack to that movie. "Sexy" (released in 1975) was later used as a prize cue for the "Big Deal of the Day" on the 1980 version of Let's Make a Deal.
Another popular MFSB number, "Love Is The Message", has been a favorite of dance/disco DJs since its release; countless remixes, both official and unofficial, exist of the song. On September 20, 2004, the record became among the first to be inducted into the newly formed Dance Music Hall of Fame. In October 2004, the song appeared in the video game, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, playing on funk radio station, Bounce FM.
Due to a disagreement with Gamble & Huff over finances, several members of the group moved on to Salsoul Records, where they became known as The Salsoul Orchestra. Other members began performing as The Ritchie Family orchestra, and John Davis and the Monster Orchestra. Not to be outdone, Gamble & Huff replaced them with a new rhythm section consisting of Charles Collins on drums, Michel Foreman on bass guitar, and Dennis Harris on lead guitar. They also employed Dexter Wansel and others on MFSB's latter recordings for the label.
According to the book A House on Fire: the rise and fall of Philadelphia Soul, by John A. Jackson, the MFSB name means "Mother, Father, Sister, Brother", because according to Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, despite the diversity at Philadelphia International Records, all were connected musically. This was in line with their spiritual views at the time.
- MFSB (1973)
- Love is the Message (1973)
- Universal Love (1975)
- Philadelphia Freedom (1975)
- Summertime (1976)
- MFSB: The Gamble & Huff Orchestra (1978)
- The End of Phase One (1978)
- Mysteries of the World (1980)
- The Funk Brothers
- Booker T and the M.G.'s
- The Wrecking Crew (music)
- Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra
- The J.B.'s
- ^ a b c Nite, Norm N. (1978). Rock On: The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Rock N' Roll, 1964 - 1978. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell. pp. 320. ISBN 0-690-01196-2.
- ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 331. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- ^ Whitburn, Joel (1996). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits
Grammy Award for Album of the Year (1970s) Year Album Artist(s) Producer(s) 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Sound Track Bee Gees (Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb), KC and the Sunshine Band (Harry Wayne Casey, Richard Finch, Fermin Goypisolo, Robert Johnson, Jerome Smith), Kool & the Gang (Robert "Kool" Bell, Ronald Bell, George Brown, Larry Gittens, Robert Mickens, Otha Nash, Claydes Smith, Dennis Thomas, Rickey West), MFSB, Ralph MacDonald, Tavares (Butch Tavares, Chubby Tavares, Pooch Tavares, Ralph Tavares, Tiny Tavares), The Trammps (Jimmy Ellis, Robert Upchurch, Harold Wade, Stanley Wade, Earl Young), Walter Murphy, Yvonne Elliman Albhy Galuten, Arif Mardin, Bee Gees, Bill Oakes, Bobby Martin, Broadway Eddie, David Shire, Freddie Perren, Harry Wayne Casey, K.G. Productions, Karl Richardson, Ralph MacDonald, Richard Finch, Ron Kersey, Thomas J. Valentino, William Salter Complete list · (1960s) · (1970s) · (1980s) · (1990s) · (2000s) · (2010s)
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