Monday, 9 February 2009

The Modulations - It's Rough Out Here - 1975 - Buddah

This group had been in the business a fair few years prior to this seminal release on Buddah Records. Lovers of the Philly groove will already be acquainted with this album and should, like me, love it to bits. You would be forgiven in thinking that this album was released on Philadelphia International. On hearing it that would not be at all surprising. The strings and horns are arranged by the late, great Don Renaldo and Philly stalwarts Norman Harris and Ronald Baker step in on arranging skills. Amazingly, the album is self produced and with the backing of the Philly greats MFSB, the album cannot fail to win. Vocally we're in familiar, warm Philly territory, and some cuts could easily have been executed by the likes of Blue magic or the Stylistics. Simply superb. The album grew in popularity in the late 80s during the rare groove explosion for the killer title track "Rough Out Here". The pounding drums, strings and urgent social messages make this an evergreen classic. Dancefloor heaven if ever I heard it. How sad it is that this message is as pertinant in 2009 as it was back in 1975.

This is by no means the headliner, though. I can heartily recommend the entire album, no holes barred. "Head On Collision With Heartbreak" is a track that Bunny Sigler could have penned, yet it's down to the guys again - a cracking affair with a great "Keep On Truckin'" melody to it. Superb, and so is the Norman Harris guitar led "Love At Last". Check out those strings! This is why the 70s were so fantastic! If you love the Ebonys then this will be up your street. Strings, again, sweeten the Stylistics styled "I'll Always Love You" and the brassier "I'm Hopelessly In Love" is a track that should get some feet moving on more discerning dancefloors. This is simply a delicious slice of 70s Philly Soul and deserves a slot on The Spirit Of Philadelphia 3 - should that ever arise! Please check out "I Can't Fight Your Love" as that also deserves a revival on radio or in the clubs! And so it goes. I pick out the awesome instrumental cut "Share What You Got, Keep What You Need" to finish my overview of this set. Simply a beautiful set and one that easily holds it's own 34 years after release.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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