MFSB: Love Is The Message (bbr)


The thirty or so studio musicians who worked at Philadelphia’s famed Sigma studios through the 70s were a vital component in the “Philly Sound”. Head honchos Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff held the team in such esteem that in 1972 they decided to release material on them in their own right and so MFSB was born (believe what you lie about that moniker… but politeness would have us render it ‘Mother Father Sister Brother’). Given that MFSB were so important it’s surprising that not much of their material has won CD reissue, so it’s gratifying that here bbr allow us to re-examine the orchestra’s second full album, 1973’s ‘Love Is The Message’.

The album begins with the all too brief ‘Zack’s Fanfare’ before the sweet grooves of the LP’s title track cut in. With the Three Degrees lending vocal support here, the cut is a definition of what MFSB were all about. A cover of Johnnie Taylor’s ‘Cheaper To Keep Her’ follows on which people like Harold Ivory Williams and Vince Montana Jr are allowed to show off their mellow jazz licks. There’s more of the same on the treatment of the 1953 standard ‘My One And Only Love’ which precedes the album’s big tune – ‘TSOP’ – penned by Gamble ad Huff for Don Cornelius’ ‘Soul Train’ TV show. Another highlight is a cover of Diana Ross’ ‘Touch Me In The Morning’ on which Leon Zachary’s sax takes lead.

In this bbr reissue you get the original 8 track album along with three bonus cuts – edits and mixes of ‘TSOP’ and ‘Love Is The Message’. There’s also a decent set of sleeve notes from US writer Rico Washington which set the music in its proper context… a worthwhile reissue, this.

(BB) 3/5