Thursday, 14 February 2019

The Three Degrees - International (1975)


Released June 1975

This was the second of the Three Degrees' Philadelphia International albums from the mid-seventies and, unfortunately, by mid-1975, the Philly Soul was beginning to run out of steam a bit. This is still a classic soul album of its era, however, and there is still some good material on here. The latest BBR Records remastering (with bonus tracks) has truly excellent sound quality - full, warm and bassy and crystal clear percussion.


1. Another Heartache
2. Take Good Care Of Yourself
3. Get Your Love Back
4. Lonelier Are Fools
5. Distant Lover
6. Together
7. Long Lost Lover
8. Here I Am
9. TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)
10. Loving Cup                                            


11. Midnight Train
12. Nigai Namida
13. La Chanson Populaire
14. Somos Novios (It's Impossible)
15. When Will I See You Again (Japanese Version)
16. TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia) Tom Moulton Mix

"Another Heartache" is a delicious, slow-tempo ballad, with sweeping string backing and a lovely bass line, while "Take Good Care Of Yourself" was the catchy, singalong hit single from the album. It has that effortless, recognisable mid-seventies Philly soul sound. It is a bit of a "When Will I See You Again" remake, however. "Get Your Love Back" was a very minor UK hit. It is an underrated, lively, Northern Soul-ish number full of verve, attack and a superb lead vocal from Sheila Ferguson.

"Lonelier Are Fools" finds Sheila in full Diana Ross mode on a sumptuous ballad. "Distant Lover" is a cover of the Marvin Gaye song from 1973's "Let's Get It On". It is full of great orchestration and more good vocals. It does the song justice. "Together" is a bit of a standard-sounding smooth soul ballad, typical of its time, but none the less appealing when taken at face value. The problem was that, while a couple of albums like this are most pleasant, you can't just keep putting similar stuff out year after year. The two Three Degrees albums and three or four offerings from Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes are classics of their period and genre, it has to be said, though.

The very Motown-esque and infectious "Long Lost Lover" was also a minor UK hit too. It deserved better, actually. Both this and "Get Your Love Back" were excellent singles. "Here I Am" is a big, bassy, dramatic ballad with a huge vocal and some sumptuous brass backing. "TSOP" (The Sound Of Philadelphia)" was not really a Three Degrees number, it was the Philadelphia house band MFSB. The girls just provide the backing vocals, and because of that it finds its way on to the album. No matter, though, its great and was a big hit too. "Loving Cup" ends the album in Motown style once more, with another upbeat number. The album is what it is - enjoyable mid-seventies soul, perfectly executed.

** The bonus tracks feature a great soul track in "Midnight Train"; the girls singing in Japanese on "Nigai Namida" and a version of "When Will I See You Again"; an Italian ballad in "Somos Novos" and an awful Eurovision-style French number in "La Chanson Populaire".


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