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MFSB

Best known for recording the hit theme to Soul Train, MFSB were the pre-eminent instrumental outfit of Philadelphia soul, backing numerous Kenny Gamble/Leon Huff productions while recording regularly on their own throughout the '70s. The group's name stood for Mother Father Sister Brother, and prior to their formation in 1971 as the house band at Gamble and Huff's Sigma Sound studios, some of the core personnel had been working together as early as 1968. Guitarists Norman Harris and Bobby Eli, bassist Ronnie Baker, and drummer Earl Young had an uncredited dance hit with "The Horse," the instrumental flip side of singer Cliff Nobles' "Love Is All Right." As the Horse dance craze swept Philadelphia, the group also backed singers the Fantastic Johnny C and (as the James Boys) Jesse James, while also issuing singles as the Music Makers and Family.

With the rise of the lush, orchestrated Philly soul sound at the dawn of the '70s, business was booming at Gamble and Huff's Philadelphia International, and there was plenty of session work to be had. Harris, Eli, Baker, and Young formed an important part of the label's regular studio group; other prominent musicians included guitarists Roland Chambers and James Herb Smith, bassist Larry Moore, drummers/percussionists Karl Chambers, Miguel Fuentes, Quinton Joseph, and Larry Washington, saxophonist Zach Zachary, organist/keyboardist Lenny Pakula, and vibraphonist Vince Montana, plus a rotating cast of strings, horns, and other personnel that depended on availability and were often directed by Don Renaldo. MFSB provided backing on a bevy of Philadelphia International hits, most prominently for the O'Jays and Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, as well as other Philly soulsters like the Stylistics and the Spinners. They began cutting their own sessions in 1973, releasing a self-titled debut full of extended, sometimes jazzy soul grooves.

Later in 1973, TV host Don Cornelius approached Gamble about writing an original theme for his newly nationally syndicated dance show Soul Train. Gamble convened MFSB in the studio with arranger Bobby Martin and supporting vocal group the Three Degrees, and the theme song that grew out of the session proved hugely popular when it debuted on the show. Gamble pushed Cornelius to release it as a single, and when it finally appeared in early 1974 under the title "T.S.O.P." ("The Sound of Philadelphia"), it rocketed to the top of both the pop and R&B charts; it also won a Grammy for Best R&B Instrumental. The accompanying MFSB album, Love Is the Message, was a gold-selling Top Ten hit (and a number one R&B album); moreover, the title track became an underground hit on the New York disco scene several years later. The group's next album, 1975's Universal Love, produced another R&B hit in "T.L.C. (Tender Lovin' Care)," and moved MFSB further into the emerging disco movement with tracks like "Sexy" and "Let's Go Disco."

MFSB recorded five more albums for Philadelphia International over the remainder of the '70s, becoming a full-fledged disco group when they began working heavily with arranger/producer Dexter Wansel in 1978. The previous year, they contributed a cover of the Nite-Liters' "K-Jee" to the mammoth-selling Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, but the late '70s brought mostly diminished commercial returns. The title track of MFSB's final album, 1980's Mysteries of the World, was a hit in the U.K., but with the heyday of both Philly soul and disco slipping away, the group disbanded in 1981. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Comments

Jimdaddy48
I love this music group because I grew up with some of these person
That's that shittt...
That's that shittt...
Ayeee...
I always loved a full orchestra sound and that's what this was, only it was in the format of the times that were. I still can't think of a time when I danced with full orchestra playing my favorite songs. An orchestra not a band! LOVED THEM!
rndlb
I hope the discos in Heaven play their music...the lushest of soul.
Please come back luv is the message. ClASSIC. FOREVER. Brooklyn. All the way.
THAT'S THE JAM AS A MATTER OF FACT THE WHILE ALBUM......L O V E EN..
Mother, Father, Sister, Brother
I miss my family.RIP Norman Harris and Ronnie Baker
Love MFSB, so happy to have found this station. My husband (RIP) introduced me to so many kinds of music, and this group was one of his favorites. A lot of memories for me, happy times. I agree with chocolatesol d i e r 4 e v e r , truly was a soulful sound.
This is where soul began and ended....... f o r those who didn't know........ j u s t listen up and feel the groove...... .
Mother
Fkn
Son of a
B**ch

For all those that didn't know...
Truly Love MFSB reminds me of good times in this world we live!
Best all time
timeless classic
sassiegirl74 6
Next to the Motown Sound, ain't nothn like the Philly Sound...can' t be beat. I love it immensely!!
the standard for DJ'S IN NEW YORK if you could not cut this up you stunk back in the day
unfrotunatel y , you cannot get their earlier stuff on CD like Summer Time, Picnic in the Park... i believe u can only get it on vinyl
The best orchestra in the 70'
dtravisx3
This is all brooklyn.
When I Heard The Tune My Mood at the end of Channel 4 News in Washington DC that I where live in. And MFSB was disbanded in 1981.
It is impossible to hear this group on any station now , & that is a crime to all who appreciate just good old music , they were a part of Soul Train & a Great Great Group . Thank You for making it possible to hear a part of our history .
JUST LISTEN TO THE INSTRUMENTAL WORK THEY DID WITH HAROLD MELVIN, THE
OJAYS AND TEDDY PENDERGRASS - IT IS ASTOUNDING- GREAT - NUTING LIKE IT
NOW!!
mzspaulding
Love is the message is has groovy today as it was in the 70's. Every time I hear it I must, have to , get help but dance. The sound is timeless
That last hit: Mysteries Of The World was instrumental "sophistifun k " at it's best.Vince Montana switched off between MFSB & The Salsoul Orchestra.Th e "first ladies" of the Philly Sound-The Three Degrees & First Choice-were as good a "girl group(s) as there ever was.Can't believe it's been over 30 years now.Still better than most stuff put out now.
Just so everybody knows, MFSB is back under the leadership of drummer Keith Benson (who replaced Earl Young when he began touring more) and musical director George Bussey. The group includes many of Philly's finest established musicians as well as younger talent. On the web: www.mfsb.org
"That's what NY sounded like in the 70's."
I barely remember this but boy does it speak to my soul. The sounds back then were so sweet.
zycor368
MFSB, along with Gamble & Huff, practically owned most of the 70s. Whether they performed as a group or backed other artists (Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, The O'Jays, Jean Carn, and many others), they kept the hits coming. They are legends and visionaries now and forevermore! ! ! !
what can you say about msfb, they put out more hits than I can count they can make you dance, think, or just lose yourself. The arrangements were out of this world. Gamble & Huff sheer geniuses.
i like to hear the salso orchstra&glo r i a gaynor&the spinners&

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