On Wednesday, my husband and I hung out at the WHYY studios during the broadcast of the Love Train: The Sound of Philadelphia, a show that was recorded live this past summer at the Borgata, featuring some of the best music of my day, TSOP.
As part of its Winter Membership drive, WHYY had a special behind the scenes Members event, with the “Philadelphia Sound” Gamble and Huff, the Blue Notes, and Bunny Sigler as well as legendary local DJ Jerry Blavat, who were in the WHYY studios chatting and singing during the performance of the show.
As Dan DeLuca of the Inky notes, Back on the 'Love Train':
See also, All Aboard the Love Train.
The Love Train concert is a well-produced, spirited oldies show hosted by Jerry "The Geator" Blavat, with a terrific 26-piece TSOP Orchestra led by musical director Bill Jolly.
A cavalcade of the label's polished and powerful '70s hits are performed. Sometimes they're sung by their originators, like the O'Jays, who turn in sweaty performances, with Eddie Levert Sr. and Walter Williams Sr. trading lead vocals on "I Love Music," and "Use Ta Be My Girl."
In many cases, however, the songs are delivered by slightly different personnel, as with Harold Melvin's Blue Notes, who are without Melvin (who died in 1997) and Teddy Pendergrass (who left the group in 1976, and was later paralyzed from the waist down in an auto accident). Nonetheless, gruff-voiced lead singer Donnell "Big Daddy" Gillespie turns in winningly rugged performances on "The Love I Lost" and "Wake Up Everybody."
Similarly, Bunny Sigler shines with an over-the-top version of the sneakin' around classic "Me and Mrs. Jones," though the song's originator, Billy Paul, is absent. The other standout is Russell Thompkins Jr., who, singing with a group billed as the New Stylistics, shows off a still-supple falsetto on "I'm Stone in Love with You."
With the on-air program playing on screens in the background, we dined (including a special WHYY flavored Bassett's ice cream) and listened to live music during breaks in the show. DavePhilly (my husband) has worked with Kenny Gamble, who puts on an annual men's heath fair & we are both fans of "Philadelphia soul."
Of course, after I said that I wasn't going to re-up my membership in WHYY because of the outrageous salary paid to the head of WHYY, William Mazzazzo, they sent me an offer I couldn't refuse -- a 4-CD set of Love Train: The Sound of Philadelphia and tickets to the Member event.
Just proves again, never say never.