1973 / 147 Views

Philadelphia's Sigma Sound Studios got its start in 1968 when ex-Cameo-Parkway recording engineer Joseph Tarsia opened for business. He had been working with a large group of studio musicians from his old label and they moved over to his new enterprise. Those musicians were responsible for the full orchestral funk of Cliff Noble's "Love Is All Right", so much so that when it was released as a single the instrumental version that was the B side became the surprise hit and galloped all the way to #2 on the pop charts. Another song they worked on, "Keem-O-Sabe" was a sitar laced funk tune was released by Electric Indian that made it all the way to #16 in September of 1969. Assuming the name of The Assembled Multitude, they recorded the 1970 #16 pop hit "Overture from Tommy (A Rock Opera). Shortly after that, they heard that Don Cornelius, host of a local program called "Soul Train", was looking for a new original song to replace King Curtis song "Hot Potatoes" he had been using as the show's theme. When the show was getting ready to go national, he was unable to reach an agreement with the heirs of Curtis to secure the rights. Cornelius ran in to Kenny Gamble and he mentioned his quest for a new theme. Gamble organized the recording sessions and they put together about half a dozen candidates for the new theme, but one really stood out, "The Sound Of Philadelphia" which got shortened to "TSOP". Some lyrics were written and the Three Degrees were brought in to add their sweetly funky harmonies. On the original single release, their voices did not come in until the very end of the song and the words "Soul Train" were not even used. However these vocals were brought forward in a new remix meant to feature their voices one the song began to hit. The group decided on the acronym name of MFSB, which was supposed to mean Mothers, Fathers, Sisters, Brothers, but rumour has it that it actually stood for "Mother Fcking Sons of Btches". In any case, they created a stone cold disco smash that enhanced the popularity of "Soul Train" which in turn pushed the single to #1 on the pop and R&B charts.

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