So us UK soul boys and girls just lost an icon. Truth is we lost him over 30 years ago, along with our innocence, the baggies and crepe-soled shoes – lost everything but a love of his best tunes.
Risible now, perhaps, as the 70s lover man stud on stage and, along with Barry White and Marvin Gaye, responsible for half the births in America circa 1978, Teddy P’s finest records still resonate deeply with me.
With Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes he reached out to all us 70s teenagers with ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’. Hearing it today shoots me straight back down the time tunnel to nights spent sweating on the disco floor, dreaming of a girl, a favourite beat and the ultimate look. We were in love with the style of a soulful Saturday night just before Fever broke out.
‘The Love I Lost’ - how fine that still sounds today, it’s sentiment staying with us through our teens, when love was easy to lose and hard to find. And ‘Wake Up Everybody’, a high point in 70s Soul music’s call for social responsibility -‘You businessmen, stop cheatin’’, exhorts Teddy. Some messages don’t date, sadly.
I can’t eulogize enough about ‘Bad Luck’ - the bass line, arrangement (of course) and the way Teddy testifies to the gambler’s torment – the way he sings ‘You played that number ‘cause that number’s hot !’.
Aside from Punk making all the headlines in ’77 Teddy P’s first solo album appeared, and despite enjoying the white riot of noise my roots in black music meant this album gave me just as much satisfaction. It remained his best, containing in ‘You Can’t Hide From Yourself’, ‘The More I Get The More I Want’ and ‘I Don’t Love You Anymore’ a trio of absolute classics. The latter is a strange musical phenomenon in that it shouts a negative statement over one of the most joyous arrangements ever created.
He had one more dancefloor monster up his sleeve, delivered the following year in the form of 'Only You'.
Teddy P’s colossal voice and the phenomenal Philly sound made amazing music for a while, and if he didn’t prove to be a long-term love affair for me, along with all those ‘ladies’, I succumbed (and still do), if for slightly different reasons.