I have always considered myself an old soul and often wish I had the chance to experience specific music eras as an adult. Of course, New Jack Swing and Motown’s golden age come to mind. However, I can’t count out the Philly soul sound of the seventies. We all know those gems still in rotation today from songwriters and producers such as Bobby Martin, Thom Bell, Linda Creed, Norman Harris, and Dexter Wansel.
The production teams of McFadden & Whitehead and Gamble & Huff of Philadelphia International Records stand out for me because they have always brought something unique to the table. So for this week’s Second Listen Sunday, I decided to give flowers to the self-titled debut album from McFadden & Whitehead.
Arriving in record stores on May 1st, 1979, the iconic single led the album “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now.” The song was viral amongst the African American community and was a source of inspiration for those facing adversity. It was a reminder that hard work and determination could help you overcome any obstacles in your way. As it turned out, the song was about the duo’s frustration with Philadelphia International Records owners Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, who wanted them to remain songwriters for many years. Forty-plus years later, the song still holds up.
“Just Wanna Love You Baby,” “Mr. Music,” “Got To Change,” “I Got The Love,” and “Do You Want To Dance” are all solid album tracks that I’m sure packed dance floors in the seventies. I would love to hear D-Nice or Questlove work this into their DJ sets. However, as you all know, I’m big on ballads, and the duo’s debut features two.
First is “I’ve Been Pushed Aside,” a ballad about losing your woman. A soulful composition with feeling, Whitehead’s supporting vocals enhance Gene McFadden’s lead. The lyrics tell a story of a man trying to hold on to a relationship that is slipping away, and his feelings of desperation and hopelessness are expressed vividly throughout the song. The music creates the perfect atmosphere, with McFadden’s passionate vocals and Whitehead’s backing vocals adding to the emotion.
The second ballad is “You’re My Someone To Love.” As with “I’ve Been Pushed Aside,” “You’re My Someone To Love” features McFadden in the lead. A romantic love song in which the singer desires comfort, love, and security for the person they care about. The lyrics describe being attracted to someone and wanting to be there for them when they need it. The duo offers devotion of heart and soul and encourages the other person to take their hand and trust that they’ll provide all the love they need.
The chorus emphasizes this point, asking if love is sought and promising to provide it. The bridge reinforces this idea, stressing that the relationship is full of loyalty and commitment. Ultimately, the song is about finding someone special to love and providing unconditional love and support.
Chartwise, nothing on the matched the success of “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now.” However, this is a fine album for fans of the seventies soul.
Final Grade: B+
McFadden & Whitehead is available on all streaming platforms.
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