Various Artists – Distortions Funkadelphia, Philly Soul Girls

Sara Sherr

By Sara Sherr

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Philly Soul Girls was lovingly compiled by Dave Brown, a former member of The Lyres and the head honcho of Distortions/Funkadelphia, who unearths obscure Philly music history by digging through flea market crates and hitting the Yellow Pages.

Buoyant girl group sounds and the innocence of Motown, served Philly style

The soul represented here isn't the sleek '70s "Philly soul" later made popular by the city's legendary Gamble and Huff songwriting/production team — although Huff wrote two of the comp's tracks. Instead, it represents the buoyant girl group sounds and the innocence of Motown in the mid '60s: choreographed straight lines of girls with hair up to here, hemlines just down to there, cool and Kohl'd, singing teenage pleas for tenderness, sweet tenderness — and the reliable Greek choruses of girls always there to get your back. Fanny & rhe Marcels'”Inside of Me” vamps with The Shangri-La's “Give Him a Great Big Kiss,” and Ann Byers'”Dead End” is a ringer for Martha & the Vandellas'”Heat Wave.”

The soul of the thing is Patty & the Emblems'”Mixed Up Up Shook Up Girl,” where the singer doesn't know whether to laugh or cry with her man gone. And that's the charm of collections like this: You want to laugh and cry along with these girls and yet you never once feel like an emo pussy.