HomePosts Tagged "Teddy Pendergrass"

Teddy Pendergrass Tag

Soul Serenade - McFadden & WhiteheadI try to keep my personal politics out of this column, but after a somewhat … unusual … convention in Cleveland, the circus has moved on to Philadelphia this week. It’s one of my favorite cities, and I don’t need any inspiration to write about Philadelphia music. But since the eyes of the world are focused on Philly this week I thought I’d add my gaze as well.

I’m in the middle of reading a fine book called A House on Fire: The Rise and Fall of Philadelphia Soul by John A. Jackson. According to Mr. Jackson, disco was invented in the City of Brotherly Love, specifically when session drummer Earl Young combined a thumping, four-on-the-floor bass drum rhythm with stick work on an open high-hat cymbal. When called upon by producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff in 1973 to play on the Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes session for “The Love I Lost” (a song that was originally intended to be a ballad), Young invented the disco beat right there on the spot. The resulting single featured Teddy Pendergrass singing lead, and it was Pendergrass who called the record “perhaps the first disco hit.”

Nickolas Ashford met Valerie Simpson at the Harlem’s White Rock Baptist Church in 1964. He had come to New York from South Carolina, stopping briefly in Michigan to go to college. He wanted to be a dancer, but it wasn’t happening for him and at 23 years of age he was homeless. Simpson was a 17 year-old music student at the time.

The duo did some recording early on, starting out as members of a gospel group called the Followers, and then with the song “I’ll Find You,” on which they were billed as Valerie and Nick. Ashford also released some singles on his own for several different labels. While success proved elusive for the pair as recording artists, it was a different story when they shifted their focus to songwriting. At the Scepter/Wand record label their songs were recorded by artists like Ronnie Milsap, Maxine Brown, the Shirelles, and Chuck Jackson. But it was the the 1966 Ray Charles smash “Let’s Go Get Stoned” that really propelled their career.

In the end, the story of Teddy Pendergrass is a tragic one. An auto accident in March, 1982 left him confined to a wheelchair until his death on January 13, 2010. A brilliant career was cut short as a result of the accident, but that does nothing to negate the years of triumph that preceded it.

Teddy Pendergrass first came to public attention when he joined the renowned Philly soul great Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes in 1970. Though he was not originally recruited as a lead singer (see question below), Melvin promoted him to that role when John Atkins left the group later that year.

In 1971, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes signed to Philadelphia International Records, and when they released their debut single, “I Miss You,” the following year, Teddy Pendergrass was the lead singer. It was the beginning a fabled collaboration with producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.

Before we kick off today’s round of exquisite Mellowmas torture, how about some discount music and a contest? Our friends at Rhino are celebrating the Twelve Days of Chri — er, Rhino, and for the second day, they’re not only offering a whopping 40% discount on the essential What It Is! Funky Soul And Rare Grooves box, but they’re giving away a $25 promo code to one lucky Popdose reader! Here’s what you need to do to enter:

Visit the Rhino site and find the Christmas ornament that puts the “hey, hey” in your holidays. Then email the answer to Michael Parr with the subject line “You should see what your wife is wearing right now.” Our winner will be chosen at random, and all entries must be received by noon PST tomorrow. Good luck!

Jason: Oh, look, Jeff. Wilson Phillips released a Christmas album. Just what none of us were waiting for.

Jeff: Remember how Jellyfish broke up after two albums?

Jason: Don’t remind me.

Jeff: And yet here we are, 20 years after Wilson Phillips’ debut, and they keep resurfacing. And even worse, their albums are total shit. Remember the last one?

Jason: Was that California?

Jeff: It was.

Jason: I vaguely remember an Eagles cover.

Jeff: Who does that? Who releases a crappy album of covers more than a decade after their last record?

Jason: …Artists who couldn’t write songs in the first place and have lost the budget to hire good songwriters?

Jeff: They go away just long enough to trick you into thinking they’re gone for good. And then wham! Back with something even shittier than before.

Jason: Oh, you got me excited there. I thought Wham! was getting back together.

Jeff: Not even Wilson Phillips has any use for Andrew Ridgeley anymore. I don’t know what’s next for them. A live album?

Jason: I hope not. Matt Wardlaw sent me a Wilson Phillips live bootleg a few months back. And worse, I actually listened to it.

Jeff: I’d forgotten about that. Wasn’t it from this year or something?

Jason: Yes.

Jeff: You guys have lots of problems.

Jason: It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either. The biggest problem was that I listened to it two days before my triathlon, and wound up with “You’re In Love” in my head the whole race.

Jeff: Did they do that song about their housekeeper?

Jason: What song is that?

Jeff: I think it was called “Goodbye Carmen.”

Jason: Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Jeff: Or maybe the full title was “Goodbye Carmen (Make Sure You Folded the Toilet Paper the Way I Like It).”

Jason: You think Wilson Phillips can still afford housekeepers?

Jeff: Well, I think Jesus takes care of Chynna’s housecleaning needs.

Jason: Easy, Jeff, or a Baldwin is going to invade our comment section.

Jeff: Sample “Goodbye Carmen” lyric: “And her eyes are like skies that will rain / But there’s work to be done, and she does not complain”

Jason: That’s poetry.

Jeff: “Goodbye, Carmen / Hasta mañana or who knows when (it all depends)”

Jason: You write like you actually know this song. I feel bad for you.

Jeff: Google is a powerful thing. Also, it’s probably the only adult contemporary ballad about a maid. I mean, unless you count Richard Marx’s “Angelia.”

Jason: SHUT UP

Jeff: “Goodbye Carmen” is just about the only thing I remember about Wilson Phillips’ second album. That and the sight of Carnie on the beach in flowing lingerie.

Jason: There goes breakfast.

Jeff: You may throw up, Jason. But you won’t see her cry.

Jason: Well, now that my stomach is empty, I think it’s time to listen to a song from this new Christmas album.

Jeff: Christmas in Harmony!

Jason: I wonder how long it took them to come up with that title?

Jeff: I wonder how long the three of them were actually in the same studio for this?

Jason: I took a sneak listen to their cover of the Beach Boys’ “Our Prayer.” (Which, by the way, is not a Christmas song.)

Jeff: Didn’t Carnie and Wendy do their own Christmas album in the ’90s?

Jason: …did they? And if so, why haven’t we covered it?

Jeff: Because you keep refusing my request to make Mellowmas 365 days long?

Jason: Oh look, apparently I had some breakfast left. And there it goes.

Jeff: Wendy and Carnie also made an album with their dad, renowned fake keyboard player Brian Wilson.

Jason: snicker

Jeff: Maybe “Our Prayer” was on that. Or left over from the sessions.

Jason: Well, honestly, “Our Prayer” was excellent.

Jeff: I don’t think anyone has ever accused these women of not being able to sing.

Jason: That’s true.

Jeff: I wonder what their prayers are at this point? Carnie: Another talk show.

Jason: Wendy: Stay hot.

Jeff: Chynna: Painful death for Matthew Bolin.

Jeff: As uninspired as this album’s title is, I have to hand it to Wilson Phillips for coming up with an interestingly titled original number: “Warm Lovin’ Christmastime.”

Jason: …that wasn’t on the Keith Sweat Christmas album? Seems like Keith Sweat would be the one to give us warm lovin’.

Jeff: I think that was a Jeffrey Osborne cover, actually. Plop!

Jason: Okay, let’s give it a listen. We’ve made our readers wait long enough. If we still have readers.

Jeff: I doubt they’re in any rush, but okay.

Jason: Ready?

Jeff: Yes. But no.

Wilson Phillips — Warm Lovin’ Christmastime (download)

From Christmas in Harmony

Soul Serenade

Harold Melvin & The Blue NotesLast weekend I attended a Triple-A radio conference in Philadelphia. The event is called Non-Comm (as in noncommercial radio), and I’ll be writing more about it soon. One of the highlights of the conference, which blends live music with industry panels, was the appearance of John Legend, performing with the Roots. The hometown heroes played a stunning set. Of special interest to me was a cover of the song “Wake Up Everybody,” which was originally recorded in 1975 by Philly soul legends Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes.

The group had a secret weapon, but he didn’t remain secret for very long. He, of course, was Teddy Pendergrass, a truly great soul singer who was the Blue Notes’ lead vocalist during their most successful years at Philadelphia International Records. With Pendergrass up front, the group had hits like the immortal “If You Don’t Know Me by Now” (1972), “The Love I Lost” (1973), “Don’t Leave Me This Way” (1975), and “Bad Luck” (1975).

The socially conscious “Wake Up Everybody” was written by Victor Carstarphen, Gene McFadden, and John Whitehead, who also wrote “Bad Luck.” “Wake Up” was the title track of the group’s 1975 album, and spent two weeks at #1 on Billboard‘s Hot Soul Singles chart in 1976; it also reached #12 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart. In 2004 an all-star cover version of the song was released to spark interest in the presidential election. Artists on the Babyface-produced version included Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, Jamie Foxx, Wyclef Jean, and many others.

In 1976, at the height of the Blue Notes’ success, Teddy Pendergrass left the group. He wanted their name changed to Teddy Pendergrass & the Blue Notes, and you have to admit that he had a point. He went on to have a very successful solo career, which was cut short in its prime when he was paralyzed in an automobile accident in 1982. Pendergrass died on January 13 of this year, a victim of colon cancer; he was 59. The Blue Notes continued touring until Harold Melvin suffered a stroke in 1996; he died the following year.


Don’t know what to get your friends and loved ones for the holidays this year? If they’re lovers of merriment, obnoxious humor and immature behavior, we can think of no better gift than The Popdose Podcast, Episode 4! Sure, it doesn’t cost anything to give as a gift, but that just leaves you more money to spend on yourself this season. Because let’s face it — you’re worth it.

In this episode, our illustrious hosts discuss — you guessed it — the holiday season, from gifts to music and everything in between. You’ll also find out exactly how Cabbage Patch Kids are born. We only wish we were making this up. Please leave us your thoughts in the comments, and if you like the show, please leave a review on iTunes. Enjoy!

The Popdose Podcast, Episode 4: Cabbage Section (1:01:45, 70.7 MB), featuring Jeff Giles, Jason Hare, and Dave Lifton.

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You can also subscribe to the podcast’s RSS feed.

Show Notes

0:00 Intro, leading into a varied holiday discussion. We start by discussing the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and Jason’s emotional attachment to the 3-D Santa Claus. We also discuss Jeff’s daughter and her newly-found Christmas spirit (much to Jeff’s dismay), Christmas in NYC, Yule a Go-Go, tonight’s Acoustic ’80s Christmas Show, Bruce Springsteen’s “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” and the In Harmony and In Harmony 2 albums, the Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York,” Jeff Vrabel’s hatred of “Wonderful Christmastime” and everything else except for Jimmy Buffett, Buffett’s Christmas album, Carly Simon’s Christmas album and the Pet Shop Boys’ Christmas album, Carly Simon’s new album and the unfortunate cover, unnecessary covers of “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” heckling a Five For Fighting concert, Wing’s Christmas album and last year’s Mellowmas finale, and the end of a very, very long sentence. Finally, come join the Facebook group page for the Popdose Podcast!

The Revelations featuring Tre Williams - The Bleeding EdgeLast year, the Revelations featuring Tre Williams released their Deep Soul EP, which was not only one of my favorite recordings of the year, but one that I voted for in the upcoming “Top Albums of the Decade” feature here at Popdose. For their debut full-length album, The Bleeding Edge (Decision Records / Traffic Entertainment), the Revelations have added an additional eight songs to the EP’s seven. Let me get this out of the way here, because if it’s true for the Avett Brothers, it’s true for the Revelations. Fifteen songs is too many for an album. The original seven were great. Three or four more would have been perfect for the album. As it is, not all of the new songs rise to the level of those on the EP, and a nearly perfect soul album could have been gleaned from a more judicious selection of songs. I intend to keep fighting this fight against extreme album length, so I hope you’ll give me some room on this.

Tre Williams is a force of nature. I would argue that he is one of the greatest male soul and R&B vocalists to emerge since the heyday of Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross, though stylistically he reminds me more of the immortal David Ruffin. Williams is ably assisted by former Roc-a-Fella artist Rell, who is Williams’ co-lyricist and vocalist. The Revelations themselves sound like they were picked up on the street, and I mean that in the very best possible way. The truth is that the band is populated by musicians who have performed with Wyclef Jean, Lauren Hill, Matisyahu, Sly and Robbie, Erykah Badu, Branford Marsalis, and others.


Well, here’s another week of the letter P. And while I hate to say it up front, I think this might be the weakest post of the series.

I know that’s not the best way to promote something, but since it’s alphabetical here at Bottom Feeders, it’s all just luck of the draw, and we all know bad weeks are going to come along now and again. I’m curious to see what you’ll think of it. Let’s get started with more of the songs that charted at #41 or lower on the Billboard Hot 100 during the 1980s.

dolly-partonDolly Parton
“But You Know I Love You” — 1981, #41 (download)
“The House of the Rising Sun” — 1981, #77 (download)
“I Will Always Love You” — 1982, #53 (download)
“Save the Last Dance for Me” — 1983, #45 (download)
“Downtown” — 1984, #80 (download)

Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers
“The Greatest Gift of All” — 1984, #81 (download)
“Real Love” — 1985, #91 (download)

How could you not love Double-D, as I like to call her? Okay, so there are plenty of other ways to look at breasts that might be more interesting than these, but as a kid growing up in the ‘80s, I knew nothing of Dolly Parton’s except for “9 to 5” and ginormous cans. But I have to give respect to Miss Dolly as she’s had a great career and despite making traditional country (something I have no interest in) she made it quite tolerable.

If I’m not mistaken, “The Greatest Gift of All” might be the first Christmas song in this series.

The Pasadenas
“Tribute (Right On)” — 1989, #52 (download)

It’s not a shocker that the Pasadenas never blew up. Their music is more ‘60s and ‘70s soul than ‘80s. And while this song (thankfully not a mash-up of hits) is actually damn good, it was about 9 years too late to be a major hit for them. If this had been released in ’80 or ’81, I have no doubt this would have gone top 10.

Chartburn Logo

Mainstream Rock: INXS, “Suicide Blonde” (1990)

John: I was always appreciative of INXS for holding X back until 1990 so I could accurately say their best stuff was back in the ’80s. There are currently 272 used copies of X available on Amazon for one cent each.

Vrabel: Was this the period when INXS was dropping, like, four albums a year? I seem to remember them having a fairly ludicrous output around this time. Not a bad song, I guess. Was X the album that had “Not Enough Time”? That’s not a bad song either, I guess.

David: “Not Enough Time” was on Welcome to Wherever You Are, which was a pretty damned underrated album.

Few people loved INXS as much as I did in the ’80s, but “Suicide Blonde” just felt off to me. Every record up to that point was an expansion on the previous one, but X marked the first time that the band just tried to repeat the previous album. Loved the second single, “Disappear,” but this one feels like it’s trying too hard. I’m betting Taylor loves it, though, because her boy Dan Bejar references it in a New Pornographers song.

Zack: A while back there was a short-lived sitcom featuring Breckin Meyer called Inside Schwartz, where he played an aspiring sportscaster and the scenes were intercut with cameos from sports figures (such as Alex Karras) offering commentary on the story. I watched it with my friend Brian, who really wanted to like it, and found myself wincing each time the show’s lame jokes forced him to laugh.

In retrospect, I realize that my reaction to “Suicide Blonde” and X was very similar. I was a big INXS fan based on earlier albums like The Swing and Shabooh Shoobah, and I really wanted to like the first single from their new album, but I just couldn’t. It was terrible then, and it’s even worse now.