THE AMBASSADORS: Soul Summit (Label: JamieGuyden)

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This fabulous 14 tracker is just one of dozens of Philadelphia treasures currently being reissued by the people at the legendary Jamie/Guyden label. The little-known Ambassadors got their start in music after winning a talent show at Philadelphia’s Uptown Theatre. The victory bought them into contact with music biz wheeler and dealer Jimmy Bishop who signed them to his Arctic label and their third single – a classic slab of Philly soul, ‘I Really Love You’ – was leased to Atlantic and quickly stormed the Billboard R&B chart in the spring of 1969. As was the way, an album was hurriedly put together (with Bishop himself at the helm) and essentially that’s what’s presented here. The LP is a mix of original material and quirky Philadelphia style covers of songs like ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ and ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’. There’s also a delicious medley that pairs Barbara Mason’s ‘Yes I’m Ready’ with Smokey Robinson’s ‘I’ll Try Something New’ and a great version of ‘I Dig You Baby’… as templates for sweet Philly harmonising, they are perfect. Of the original songs Jimmy Bishop’s own ‘Music’ and ‘If I’m All You Got’ are raucous dancers. For this CD release ‘Soul Summit’s’ original eleven cuts are augmented by three bonuses – two live cuts (including a version of the Motown chestnut, ‘Ain’t No Sun Since You’ve Been gone’) and a band-penned dancer, ‘Proud Of My Baby’. On that one – and indeed on all the original album cuts – the studio musicians include most of the famed Philly band of brothers… Earl Young, Bobby Eli, Norman Harris, Vince Montana, Ronnie Baker and Leon Huff. Add to all that Bobby Martin’s arrangements and Bishop’s assured productions and you have a wonderful album… you can get hold of it by e-mailing which is working in collaboration with Mike Ward’s Sheffield-based inda soul productions.
(BB) 4/5