Celebration of THE DELLS’ 60th anniversary continues with the release of two in-demand albums which the group cut in the 70s for Mercury Records. The quintet had signed with Mercury in 1975 where their first release was an album of songs from the movie ‘No Way Back’. Its lack of success prompted the Mercury execs to send THE DELLS over to Philadelphia to work under the aegis of famed Philly production team THE HARRIS MACHINE (essentially NORMAN HARRIS, EARL YOUNG and RON BAKER).
Ironically back in ’71 KENNY GAMBLE and LEON HUFF had wanted to make THE DELLS the lead act on their new Philadelphia International label. The duo had written a whole album of songs specifically for the veteran group, but LEONARD CHESS refused to let them go, so GAMBLE and HUFF recorded the set with HAROLD MELVIN and the BLUENOTES … and the rest… well!
Anyway, THE DELLS eventually arrived at Sigma Sound at the start of 1977 and working with the HARRIS MACHINE on a whole bunch of new songs they recorded the album ‘They Said It Couldn’t Be Done, But We Did It’. The set wonderfully mixes THE DELLS’ signature harmony sound with slick, fully orchestrated Philly production values. The searing ballad ‘Could It Be’ rivals their best Chess work while up tempo stuff like ‘Teaser’ and the LP’s title cut are delights. Sadly, despite its quality, the album stalled at no. 20 on the R&B chart as the Mercury promo people poured their resources into marketing the OHIO PLAYERS.
Nine months later Mercury released THE DELLS’ second Philly-recorded album, ‘Love Connection’. Again it’s a quality soul album featuring wonderful cuts like the gutsy ‘Don’t Trick Me, Treat Me’ and the RON TYSON- penned ballad, ‘Private Property’. Listen up too to the doo-wop throw back ‘Wasted Years’. Written by the group’s MARVIN JUNIOR, it’s an unashamed tribute to their musical roots. Again though, the LP was unsuccessful in the sales’ stakes and their contract with Mercury was terminated. Now’s the opportunity for all real soul fans to discover what they missed back in 1977.
THE DELLS; THEY SAID IT COULDN’T BE DONE, BUT WE DID IT’ and ‘LOVE CONNECTION’ are out now on soulmusicrecords.com