NEW YORK, /PRNewswire/ -- In its hitmaking prime in the 1970s and '80s, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff's Philadelphia International Records (distributed by Epic Associated Labels) was second only to Motown as the largest African-American music-owned company in America. With an artist roster that boasted Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Teddy Pendergrass, Lou Rawls, the O'Jays, Patti LaBelle, Billy Paul, MFSB, Archie Bell & the Drells, and many others -- PIR was a hit factory whose recordings reached the tops of the charts from the start, at one point selling more than 10 million records in a nine month period.
An historic new agreement was announced in August, in which the complete PIR catalog of music has been licensed by SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT, to be released through its Commercial Music Group and Legacy Recordings. What better way to launch this new association than to welcome - for the first time -- two of PIR's most distinctive singers into Legacy's best-selling Essential Series of double-CD collections. Arriving in stores November 6th on Philadelphia International/Legacy are THE ESSENTIAL TEDDY PENDERGRASS and THE ESSENTIAL LOU RAWLS.
The 2007 release of THE ESSENTIAL TEDDY PENDERGRASS marks two anniversaries -- 35 years since his first recordings as lead singer with Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes (starting in 1972, with "I Miss You" and the #1 "If You Don't Know Me By Now"), and 30 years since Teddy's emergence as a solo artist in 1977 ("I Don't Love You Anymore," from his self-titled debut album that year).
THE ESSENTIAL TEDDY PENDERGRASS surveys virtually his entire major label recording career over the course of 28 tracks. The two CDs represent his years with Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes (six tracks), and then focus on his solo years as a core artist at PIR (a total of 19 tracks). There are also three latter samples of his work on the Elektra and Asylum labels into the early '90s.
Similarly, last year marked 30 years since Lou Rawls (1933-2006) first joined the Philadelphia International family with one of his all-time signature hits, "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine." By the time he arrived at PIR in 1976, Lou was already a worldwide star, on records, TV, film, and countless soundtracks. No collection would be complete without a sampling of his years at Capitol, represented on THE ESSENTIAL LOU RAWLS with nine stellar tracks; there are also sides from his brief stays at MGM and Bell Records. But the core of this 33-song anthology is his Philadelphia International output, explored over the course of 22 selections.
Liner notes essays for both new albums were written by William C. Rhoden, a columnist for The New York Times and a panelist on ESPN's The Sports Reporters. Rhoden conducted fresh interviews with Kenny Gamble for the occasion.
THE ESSENTIAL TEDDY PENDERGRASS and THE ESSENTIAL LOU RAWLS were both compiled and produced by Leo Sacks, a reissue producer who has supervised more than 200 historic album projects. Sacks is known for his diligence on Legacy's critically acclaimed Rhythm & Soul series since its inception more than a decade ago, which includes dozens of PIR compilations. He was widely praised for his work on the landmark Legacy three-CD box set of 1997, The Philly Sound: Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff & The Story of Brotherly Love (1966-1976). Sacks' preference for non-chronological presentation works effectively on both new packages, so that each CD moves back and forth through the years, making for separate listening experiences that are not strictly bound to a timeline.