Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff: Brotherly Love In The Recording Booth

Picture it, Philadelphia. 1963.

Okay, it’s Leo season, and time for me to round up another pioneering set of songwriters. ​Given the season of the lion, I had to pay tribute to one member of Royal Soul. But you can’t really go into the spectacle that is the influential career of Kenneth Gamble (born August 11th, 1943) without paying attention to the work his Aries city-of-brotherly-love contemporary and eventual partner Leon Huff  (born April 8th, 1942) had in the same city before they joined forces, and the magic they crafted together.

602e0c97a86ea049352ea13113654a49Both of them got their stars with other team mates. Gamble was discovered by Jerry Ross primarily as a performer in 1963. At the same time, Leon Huff was making a name for himself as a session pianist and songwriter (He played on the session for The Ronettes “Baby, I Love You”) Huff was taken under the wing of John Madara and David White, who had a burgeoning career with Philadelphia girl groups and soloists like Maureen Gray and writing “You Don’t Own Me” for Lesley Gore.

Both writers, as displayed by the earlier songs on this mix display their cutting their teeth on various teen pop efforts of the day, from acts as diverse as Patty & The Emblems, Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon and even Little Peggy March. They first collaborated with each other in 1964 for a late year Hot 100 hit in the form of “The 81” a joyful romp with Candy & The Kisses based on “In My Lonely Room” by Martha & The Vandellas.

Between 1964 and 1967, their collaborations became more frequent. With the success of their first Top 5 hit, “Expressway To Your Heart” they more or less started collaborating with each other as a priority, although both would still collaborate with other partners. They formed Gamble and Neptune records as the 1960’s drew to a close.

8047With the solid production credits they garnered behind reviving Jerry Butler’s career, shepherding a number of classics for The Intruders, helping Dusty Springfield out post Memphis it’s amazing that they had time to develop the most distinct style of the early 1970’s by the time the re-branded and formed Philadephia International Records.

This mix serves to prove that their influence was vast long before they became critical darlings, with 40 songs that saw the light of day before 1972. I hope you enjoy as we roll up on wishing Kenny Gamble a happy 75th Birthday.

1) Patty & The Emblems – Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl

2) Little Peggy March – Can’t Stop Thinking About Him
3) The Lavenders – One More Time
4) Freddy Cannon – Everybody Monkey
5) Candy & The Kisses – Shakin’ Time
6) Audrey Slo – Gotta Find The Right Boy
7) The Three Degrees – Driving Me Mad
8) The Secrets – Here He Comes
9) Dean Christie – She’s Got It
10) Dee Dee Sharp – There Ain’t Nothing I Wouldn’t Do For You
11) Sammy Sevens – You’re A Lucky So & So
12) Marva Lee – Too Bad, So Sad
13) Herb Johnson – Gloomy Day
14) Brooks O’Dell – Watch Your Step
15) Nella Dodds – You Don’t Love Me No More
16) Bunny Sigler – There’s No Love Left
17) Barbara Mason – Poor Girl In Trouble
18) The Sweet Three – Don’t Leave Me Now
19) Sheila Ferguson – Signs Of Love
20) Jerry Butler – How Can I Get In Touch With You?
21) Diana Ross & The Supremes – Hey, Western Union Man
22) Patti Drew – Just Can’t Forget About You
23) Soul Survivors – Turn Out The Fire
24) Len Barry – Bullseye
25) The Vibrations – Love In Them There Hills
26) Ruth McFadden – Rover, Rover, Huff, Puff
27) Shirley & The Shirelles – Go Away & Find Yourself
28) Dusty Springfield – Let’s Get Together Soon
29) The Formations – At The Top Of The Stairs
30) Lesley Gore – I’ll Be Standing By
31) Timebox – Girl Don’t Make Me Wait
32) Madeline Bell – I’m Gonna Make You Love Me
33) The Intruders – Together
34) The Landslides – We Don’t Need No Music
35) Betty Everett – Been A Long Time
36) Bobby Marchan – (Ain’t No Reason) For Girls To Be Lonely
37) The Vibrations – Expressway To Your Heart
38) Bunny & Cindy – Sure Didn’t Take Long
39) Bobby Hebb – Love Me
40) Shirley Scott – A Brand New Me