Thanks to wonders of Internet, now I am able to pursue hobbies in a way that as a kid I could never imagine it would have been possible: I still remember how, as impressionable teenager who loved pop music but lacking any literature about it, I would visit libraries in US and British embassies and browse music encyclopedias from their shelves, huge volume of collected Rolling Stone essays on my lap and me in seventh heaven, not exactly sure what it all means (I basically picked up English completely by myself along the way) and who these people were, but it was all so exciting and they would never let me take these encyclopedias home, it was only to enjoy there - which was probably even better because the more I loved certain books, bigger were the chances that I would splash my lunch all over the pages (it happens even today). But now I can roll lazily in my bed on a Sunday morning and browse youtube while enjoying legendary performances from 1970s TV show Soul Train - at that time it was ultra cool newest twist on famous dance marathons from previous decade (you know, where audiences surrounded performers and danced around them, shrieking and being absolutely fabulous in their newest clothes) with idea to promote exclusively soul music and its performers. With exception of David Bowie I have not seen another white artists on that stage and generally it was a showcase for soul royalty - at first I couldn't get my eyes off awesome Aretha Franklin doing "Rock Steady" and her fabulous backing singers who were just incredibly charismatic, I must have watched that one particular clip hundreds of times because it was like some perfect dream of what real soul performance should be but eventually I dived into the rest of archival material and voilà, just discovered my new favourite.
This particular performance (live! no lip-synch!) by Harold Melvin And The Blue Notes is so dazzlingly perfect, brilliant and incredibly powerful that I just couldn't believe my eyes and ears. Not only that song is incredibly beautiful - I knew it from before, as Dusty Springfield recorded it originally and long time ago it had a profound effect on me during particular episode of my life but now I am able to simply glance back and wonder how on earth could I have been so young to confuse lust and love - though I have never heard it in this version, which is funny since these guys had much bigger hit with it. So I am grooving to a song and just soaking in the wonderful vocal flow between not two, but three spectacular vocalists, while backing dancers are doing some genuinely hypnotic moves and its almost too much for me, I don't even know where to look and whom to focus on - damn! what a show! - slowly though, its clear that tall guy is really powerful and naturally now I must do some research, who on earth is this? It turns out he was Teddy Pendergrass whom I remember vaguely, of course this is all long before my time and now I really have to dig deep in my music collection and wonder why I never explored Philly Sound, naturally I have some Gamble & Huff somewhere, so right now I am listening compilation "The Philly Sound: Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff And The Story Of Brotherly Love (1966-1976)" which is so smooth that its almost unbearable, how strange that I never really paid attention to it and this morning everything just clicked perfectly and it just blew my mind. Even Laura Nyro is on it, wow what a great compilation! This is kind of right before Disco, incredibly sophisticated and slick in the best sense of the word.