Mar 25, 2017

RhoDeo 1712 Grooves


Today an American female vocal group, who were originally formed in 1963 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although a total of 15 women have been a member over the years, the group has always been a trio. The current line-up consists of Valerie Holiday, Helen Scott and Freddie Pool. Holiday has been a member since she first joined in 1967, while Scott has been a permanent member since 1976, having previously been in the group from 1963 to 1966. The group were particularly successful in the UK, achieving 13 Top 50 hit singles between 1974 and 1985..  ..... N'joy

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 Philly soul vocal group the Three Degrees started in 1963 in Philadelphia, PA. They were discovered by producer and songwriter Richard Barrett. Barrett was a key force for 1950s groups the Chantels, Little Anthony & the Imperials, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, and his own group the Valentines. The original lineup was Fayette Pickney, Shirley Porter, and Linda Turner. Barrett recorded this lineup on their first single, "Gee Baby (I'm Sorry)." In 1963, Linda Turner and Shirley Porter left the group and were replaced by Helen Scott and Janet Jones. Around this time, Barrett began managing and producing Sheila Ferguson who was a high school friend of Scott. Barrett got deals for both the group and Ferguson with Swan Records. By 1966, Helen decided to leave the group and become a housewife. Sheila Ferguson took her place. She sang backup on all the Three Degrees' Swan recordings, as did the Three Degrees for her solo singles. In 1967, Valerie Holiday joined the group, while Janet Jones departed. Over the next four years, both the Three Degrees and Ferguson released many singles.

In 1970, now signed to Roulette Records, the Three Degrees scored their first national chart hit with a remake of the Chantels' "Maybe". It went to number four R&B in summer 1970. The follow-up, "I Do Take You," peaked at number seven R&B. Barrett got the group short-term deals with Warner Bros., Metromedia, and Gamble & Huff's Neptune Label. The group had a cameo in the classic 1971 movie The French Connection starring Gene Hackman and toured with Engelbert Humperdink. In 1973, Barrett worked a deal with Gamble & Huff's Philadelphia International Records (PIR). The Three Degrees' first PIR single was "Dirty Ol' Man," a disco hit. A short time later, Don Cornelius, producer and host of TV's Soul Train, approached Gamble & Huff about coming up with a new theme song for his hit syndicated show. The Three Degrees were asked to do vocals at the end of the show's new theme track. After some airings, public demand forced the TV show's theme to be released as a single. "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)" by MFSB featuring the Three Degrees went gold hitting number one R&B and holding the number one pop for two weeks during spring 1974. Meanwhile, a previously released Three Degrees single, "Year of Decision," stalled at number 74 R&B. Another MFSB/Three Degrees single, "Love Is the Message," peaked at number 42 R&B in the summer of that year. In the summer of 1974, PIR released another single on the group, "When Will I See You Again." The single went platinum, selling over two million copies, going to number four R&B and number two pop around September 1974. Their PIR debut album, The Three Degrees, was released at the end of 1974. The follow-up, "I Didn't Know," written and produced by Bunny Sigler, went to number 18 R&B in early 1975. The group performed the song on a guest appearance on the hit NBC show Sanford and Son. Their only other charting PIR single was "Take Good Care of Yourself" (number 64 R&B in summer 1975).

Around 1976, Pickney left the group and was replaced by returning member Helen Scott. CBS released their album Standing up for Love in the U.S. in 1977. In 1978, the Three Degrees were signed to European label Ariola Records. The group recorded three LPs for the label. Longtime favorites in the U.K., the group performed at Buckingham Palace for Prince Charles' 30th birthday party and they were guests at his wedding to Princess Diana. During the first half of the '80s, the Three Degrees released U.K.-issued albums, Album of Love and Live in the UK and singles, "Liar" and "A Sonnet to Love." Stock/Aitken/Waterman produced a 1985 U.K. chart hit, "The Heaven I Need," on the group for Supreme Records. In 1986, Sheila decided to leave the group and after a short period of regrouping, Valerie and Helen brought in Cynthia Garrison and set about their business again. The act recorded another live CD with Billy Paul and Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes during a TSOP tour in the summer of 1989. Scott, Holiday, and new member Cynthia Garrison recorded three albums in the 1990s.

Ever since, they have been constantly touring all over the world, occasionally recording but always working. Their hard work in the early years has held them in good stead for today’s more demanding audiences. “For us, it is still exciting and we still enjoy our work,” Valerie points out. “We are blessed with a wide age group appeal….from fifteen to sixty-five. This is why we have survived, I think. We learned and were taught how to entertain and even before we had hit records, we knew how to do our job — our choreography, our costumes, the lights…these were all things that we learned at an early age.” “I think we have done many firsts in our career.” Helen adds. “We have opened a lot of doors for other entertainers. In some cases, we may not have always succeeded but we have never given up. It still amazes me when we see teenagers singing along with our songs. And yet we still have the fans who have grown with us.”

At the end of 2010 and after more than 20 years as a Degree, Cynthia was forced to retire from the group due to medical reasons. It brought to an end the most stable period in the trio’s long history. Her place has been taken by Freddie Pool, a hugely talented and experienced vocalist who has enjoyed past success both as a solo artiste and as a member of other groups. Vocally, she is the perfect blend for both Valerie and Helen and continues the rich tradition that the Three Degrees has always represented. So it is that after more than four decades of existence, the Three Degrees can still make the claim as being the longest running female vocal group in history….see the Guinness Book of Records for confirmation of this fact! And they show no signs of slowing down!

Fayette Pinkney, an original member of the Three Degrees who lent her strong, soulful voice to the 1970s hits “When Will I See You Again?” and “T.S.O.P. (The Sound of Philadelphia),” the theme song of the television show “Soul Train,” died  in Lansdale, Pa. July 2009, she was 61.

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It's no accident that the Three Degrees' career started taking off at approximately the same time the Supremes were falling apart. As this excellent collection (which contains all of the group's 1970-72 recordings for the Roulette label) makes clear, the Degrees represented the next step forward in female singing groups, and a very big step it was.
Unlike their later situation on Philadelphia International Records (and unlike the Supremes), at this point the Degrees - in their classic lineup of Fayette Pinkney, Sheila Ferguson and Valerie Holiday - weren't having any material written specifically for them. Instead, they tackle a wide array of covers here, moving as easily between eras as they do between genres. Apart from providing the title of their debut album, the Degrees' rap-prefaced version of the 1958 Chantels classic "Maybe" became their first major hit, peaking at number 4 on the US R&B chart in the summer of 1970. 3-D workouts on songs by the James Gang, Sly Stone, Joe South, Tommy James and other contemporary artists are similarly transcendent, with those trademark flawless harmonies already in full swing and beautiful solo work by each member of the group. Of particular interest is the six-minute rethink of Jimmy Webb's "MacArthur Park", which actually omits the title line made famous by Richard Harris but is if anything even more gut-wrenching than his version in its sheer emotive power. Impressive as the commercial results of its various singles may have been, it's a wonder the "Maybe" LP didn't fare a lot better even in the feverishly progressive and competitive musical atmosphere of forty-four years ago. Rounding out the first disc are alternate and/or mono versions of some tracks from "Maybe", along with non-LP singles such as "I Do Take You" and a few previously unreleased efforts, all of which are well worth hearing.

The Three Degrees - Maybe    (flac  352mb)

01 Collage 2:59
02 You're The One 3:23
03 Sugar On Sunday 3:23
04 Maybe 5:37
05 You're The Fool 2:50
06 McArthur Park 6:43
07 Rosegarden 2:40
08 Stardust 4:08
09 Lonely Town 2:50
10 The Magic Door 2:20
Bonus Tracks
11 Melting Pot (Mono Version) 3:30
12 The Grass Will Sing For You (Mono Version) 3:22
13 Maybe (Mono Version) 3:40
14 Collage (Mono Version) 3:00
15 Sugar On Sunday (Mono Version) 3:20
16 I Do Take You (Mono Version) 3:16
17 You're The Fool (Mono Version) 2:46
18 You're The One (Mono Version) 3:23
19 Stardust (Mono Version) 3:55
20 There's So Much Love All Around Me (Mono Version) 2:18
21 Yours (Long Single Version) (Previously Unreleased) 3:02

The Three Degrees - Maybe  (ogg   150mb)

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The Three Degrees' second and final Roulette "album", "So Much Love", which was released in 1975 to cash in on the group's far greater success at PIR. "Maybe" makes its second full-length appearance here, with "I Do Take You" also tossed in for good measure; but most of this material hadn't yet been released at the time, and all of it is excellent, with Stephen Stills' "Love the One You're With" and Roberta Flack's "Trade Winds" providing especially good examples of the Degrees' seemingly boundless facility. A wealth of bonus material (this time from 1971-2) brings the album up to a generous seventy-two minutes and change. Obviously anyone with the least interest in soul music of the psychedelic era will want to grab this collection; but rock, pop and even country fans will find much to enjoy herein as well. The Three Degrees may never have enjoyed the sort of Stateside chart success the Supremes had, but they were in many ways a superior and more interesting group, in which all three members got their share of the spotlight and absolute magic happened when they raised their voices in unison. No maybes about it, folks; this one belongs in your music library!

The Three Degrees - So Much Love   (flac  405mb)

01 Magic Mirror 3:13
02 Trade Winds 3:54
03 Love The One You're With 3:40
04 I Do Take You 3:07
05 Who Is She (And What Is She To You) 3:15
06 There's So Much Love All Around Me 2:37
07 Ebb Tide 3:15
08 Caught Between Two Fires 3:08
09 Maybe 5:37
10 If You Must Leave My Life 3:09
11 Ebb Tide (Mono Version) 3:17
12 Lowdown (Mono Version) 3:13
13 Trade Winds (Mono Version) 4:35
14 I Turn To You (Mono Version) 3:16
15 I Wanna Be Your Baby (Mono Version) 3:44
16 Find My Way (Mono Version) 2:18
17 I Won't Let You Go (Mono Version) 2:58
18 Through Misty Eyes (Mono Version) 3:07
19 Requiem 4:34
20 Isn't It A Pity 3:52
21 Shades Of Green 4:23
22 Handle With Care (Previously Unreleased) 3:00

. The Three Degrees - So Much Love  (ogg   162mb)

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The divas of Gamble & Huff's Philadelphia International stable, the Three Degrees debuted their self-titled album for the label in 1973 before they hit the mainstream with MFSB and "TSOP" the following year. And, although they are so often piggybacked on that glory, it's important to remember that this remarkable trio was already established as one of the country's premier female vocal groups. With successful sides for Roulette already under their belt, The Three Degrees found them combining their already tried and true R&B style with Gamble & Huff's trademark orchestral, instrumental flourish. It was a heavenly marriage that easily, and obviously, brought the band into the Top 40. With the lion's share of "good" material crowded on side one, the set is highlighted by the opening "Dirty Ol' Man," which brought the band's harmonies cascading over the opening strings before they descended into edgier waters. Following apace is a wonderful version of "A Woman Needs a Good Man," before closing with "When Will I See you Again" -- the gorgeous, breathless ballad that nearly topped the charts in 1974. Elsewhere, the band tempers the obvious and silly "I Like Being a Woman" with the overlooked gem "If and When." The song, one of several written by Philly International bigwig Bunny Sigler, is a rough-and-tumble ballad that heats up by merging classic '70s rock elements with the Three Degrees' girl group ethics. Although it's ultimately patchy in places, The Three Degrees was a fine introduction for the partnership between the band and the label that would put them on the map. A fine bridge between sugar soul and the sexy disco strings lurking in the band's future.

The Three Degrees - The Three Degrees    (flac  296mb)

01 Dirty Ol' Man 4:33
02 Can't You See What You're Doing To Me 2:31
03 A Woman Needs A Good Man 4:19
04 When Will I See You Again 2:58
05 I Didn't Know 2:50
06 I Like Being A Woman 3:56
07 If And When 7:07
08 Year Of Decision 2:42
09 MFSB featuring The Three Degrees - TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia) 3:36
10 MFSB featuring The Three Degrees - Love Is The Message 2:41
11 Dirty Ol' Man ("A Tom Moulton Mix") 8:21

The Three Degrees - The Three Degrees  (ogg     113mb)

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Now past their "TSOP" apogee and working well with producers Gamble & Huff, the Three Degrees bounded back into the Top 40 with 1975's International. Working across a slick set dominated by Gamble & Huff-penned songs that provided a smooth vehicle for the trio's powerhouse vocals, the Three Degrees took the pleasing "Take Good Care of Yourself" into the charts. But despite the evidence of a fine performance, it never really feels like the band really hit its stride. Both "Long Lost Lover" and the very Motown-ish "Loving Cup" are pleasant efforts but, as the songs unfold, the band seems to stagnate across an apparently endless supply of ballads. Even a reprisal of "TSOP" and a cover of Marvin Gaye's 1973 classic "Distant Lover" don't manage to stir the old heartstrings. Although they'd revamp and revive across later efforts for Ariola, the bandmembers were running out of steam in the confines of the Philadelphia International format. Stripped of their earlier fire and spark, it's obvious the Three Degrees really didn't have anything fresh to offer. However, that's not to say that this album isn't without merit -- after all, it did carve a respectful niche for itself. In another time and place, International would probably crackle with effervescence but, in retrospect, there are far better ways to sample this wonderful trio.

The Three Degrees - International  (flac 425mb)

01  Another Heartache 4:11
02  Take Good Care Of Yourself 3:25
03  Get Your Love Back 3:24
04  Lonelier Are Fools 4:05
05  Distant Lover 4:04
06  Together 4:37
07  Long Lost Lover 2:59
08  Here I Am 3:54
09  TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia) 3:47
10  Loving Cup 3:07
11 Midnight Train 4:04
12 Nigai Namida (Single Version) 3:55
13 La Chanson Populaire 3:41
14 Somos Novios (It's Impossible) 3:46
15 When Will I See You Again (Japanese Single Version) 2:49
16 TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia) ("A Tom Moulton Mix") 5:49

The Three Degrees - International (ogg  148mb)

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