Sample the Pioneering Soul/R&B of The Delfonics


Sample the Pioneering Soul/R&B of The Delfonics

Sampled by a who’s who of producers: RZA, DJ Premier, The Alchemist, Adrian Younge, and Knxwledge all flipped the pioneering Philly Soul of The Delfonics. R&B innovators, backed and arranged by iconic producer Thom Bell.




September 1, 2021

The Delfonics were one of the first groups to boast a smooth-as-silk 'Philly sound' in R&B/soul. That set off a trend in the first half of the 70s with vocal (male) harmonies and rich arrangements with big strings and horn sections. The original line-up of the Philadelphia-based band consisted of William 'Poogie' Hart, Wilbert Hart, Randy Cain, and Ritchie Daniels, backed by influential producer/arranger Thom Bell.

Bell was key to the creation of their sound, which was quite a contrast with music from other labels like Detroit’s Motown and Memphis’ Stax. In the words of author and music critic John Dougan: “He sandpapered away the grit, lightened up on the backbeat, brought in string sections, and created a smooth, airy sound.” The sound was later pioneered by Philadelphia International Records, founded by Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff, and Thom Bell. The start of "soul music dressed in a tuxedo” as opposed to the raw influential sound of Stax, and Motown's "sound of young America" full of pop-friendly sensibilities.

"[Thom Bell] sandpapered away the grit, lightened up on the backbeat, brought in string sections, and created a smooth, airy sound."

Music critic John Dougan on the sound of The Delfonics

Dig even deeper: When The Needle Hits the Philly Groove (Article)

la la means i love you the delfonics

In the late 60s, major hits like "La-La (Means I Love You)”, "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time),“ and "Ready Or Not Here I Come (Can't Find From Love)" followed on Philly Groove Records. A total of twelve Top 20 hits by 1972. But things slowed down in the mid-70s. Not only when Randy Cain left the group, but also because Thom Bell moved on to produce for groups like The Stylistics, The Spinners, and The O’Jays. That eventually made Alive & Kicking in 1974 the final studio album by The Delfonics, which also featured the song “Can’t Go On Livin’.”

Your Name” appeared seven years later, when William Hart’s own imprint Poogie Records released Delfonics Return featuring previously unreleased songs. That album also included “Men of Action” and “This Time, This Time,” the namesake track for a newly released **The Delfonics **album by Philly Groove Records in 2013.

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