Sunday, 22 February 2009

Wilson Pickett - In Philadelphia - 1970 - Atlantic

On this 1970 album Wilson Pickett's rough, tough and wicked Southern gritty soul met the sweet soul of Philadelphia head on. The lovechild of this mighty love fest of soul was Wilson Pickett's "In Philadelphia". Not unlike Dusty Springfield's equally essential "A Brand New Me", also from 1970, this album really laid down the foundation for what was to become the golden age of Philly Soul. Prior to his untimely passing, Wilson stated "I had this reputation for being 'The Wicked" in the studio. Man, Leon Huff sat in the booth and stared at me for about three days before I found out he was just waiting for me to do something wicked!" I'm not sure what Leon Huff was expecting but what you hear on this classic album is most certainly what I would call 'wicked'.

The outset track here is a bit more than Philly. I hear the great Southern mettle of Atlantic / Stax and the psychedelic guitar sound of early 70s Music Merchant or Hot Wax. The Philly sound is there - most notably in the backing vocals which comprise of the Sweethearts. If Thom Bell is as much a God to you as he is me then you won't be disappointed with the superb string-filled "Help The Needy" which really is the prototype of many great songs from the Philadelphia International stable. Wilson Pickett is really comfortable within this setting and I wish he had hopped on the Philly bandwagon. I reckon the result would have not turned out with the disappointing "Funky Situation" LP from 1978. What he could have done with the backing of Thom Bell, Gamble, Huff and MFSB! A Joe Simon feel comes along with "Don't Let The Green Grass Fool You", quite a tricky arrangement with contrasting emotions within it. Pickett picks up the gauntlet and rises to the challenge brilliantly. My final choice features a mighty slice of early 70s psychedelia..."Get Me Back On Time, Engine No. 9" would easily have been a great Ronald Dunbar (aka Lamont Dozier) production and the screaming guitars and funky bass do not overpower this most 'Wicked Pickett'. Superb soul from 1970.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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