PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL CLASSICS-THE TOM MOULTON REMIXES.
March 18, 2012 by dereksmusicblog
PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL CLASSICS-THE TOM MOULTON REMIXES.
After a long wait since the project was first announced, one of the most anticipated box sets will soon be released. 26 March 2012 is the day when Philadelphia Classics-The Tom Moulton Remixes will be released and thankfully, I've been given a sneak preview of this box set. I'm pleased to tell you that Philadelphia Classics-The Tom Moulton Remixes has been well worth the wait, featuring thirty-one Philly classics, including seventeen brand new remixes. Truly, the music is stunning, having spent some time just reveling in the magnificence of the music. It's a fitting tribute to Tom Moulton, a man who is an innovator, and whose influence on dance music has been huge. Without Tom Moulton, there would have been neither remixes nor twelve inch singles, and doubtless, the history of DJ-ing would be very different. Single-handedly Tom invented both the remix and twelve inch single, while creating some of the best remixes in the history of music. Before I tell you about the music on Philadelphia Classics-The Tom Moulton Remixes, I'll tell how Tom Moulton inadvertently invented both the remix and twelve inch single.
How Tom Moulton invented the remix is a fascinating tale of how fate and being in the right place at the right time can change history. Throughout Tom's career, he'd been steeped in music, working firstly as a junior promo man for United Artists, RCA and then King Records from the late fifties onwards. By the late sixties and disillusioned with the dishonesty and corruption that scarred music, Tom left the music industry. From there, he became a model, working on photographic shoots and on the catwalk. While he was making a living, his real passion was music. However, when a colleague invited him to Fire Island to club the Sandpiper, he'd have a eureka moment that would change his life and music.
Having arrived at Fire Island, Tom headed to the Sandpiper, where he'd change musical history. When watching a DJ mix the old seven inch singles, he realized that just when dancers were gaining momentum and getting into the groove, the single was over. After this there another single was mixed in and the same thing was happening. Realizing this must be hugely frustrating for dancers and DJs, Tom decided to rectify the problem.
Back home, he spend nearly a week editing a forty-five minute reel-to-reel tape designed keep the dance floor going. Now this wasn't easy. He extended parts of tracks, looping the most exciting parts and ensured there was a seamless changeover between tracks, so much so, that dancers hardly noticed it. Using his own collection of soul music, the tape was compiled, but this hadn't been easy. It meant editing the tape using razor blades, tape and fluid, constantly joining and rejoining the tape. Dexterity, patience, skill and an ear for music were needed, but Tom had all that. So after a week, the tape was finished, and was given to a DJ at the Sandpiper. The result was as he'd expected, the dance-floor loved it. This would be Tom's first step on the road to remixer extraordinaire.
Having made his first disco mix, Tom set about finding tracks to remix. This turned out to be relatively easy, mainly because Tom wasn't a DJ. The reason for this was radio was still King, with DJ's in clubs and record companies neither communicating nor perceived as important in the great scheme of thing. This is very different from today. So, when Tom approached record companies to remix one of their tracks, then often they say yes. Starting with The Carstairs' It Really Hurts Me Girl, remixed by Tom for Red Coach Records, Tom's nascent remixing career was underway. By 1974, Tom Moulton had perfected his craft, remixing BT Express' Do It Till You're Satisfied. Although the group didn't like the track, Tom's remix became a big hit. Suddenly, Tom was remixing Loleatta Holloway, Eddie Kendricks and First Choice. By now he'd arrived, with the Tom Moulton remix a surefire sign of quality. Having invented the remix inadvertently, fate intervened again, with Tom inventing the twelve inch single.
The first twelve inch single was made cut purely because of fate and a shortage of seven inch singles. After remixing I'll Be Holding On by Al Downing, Tom took that remix to have an acetate cut. However, when the single was going to be cut, engineer Jose Rodriguez realized that there were no seven inch singles left, so cut it on a twelve inch single. When Tom saw this, he realized that it didn't look right. It looked like a seven inch single on a twelve inch piece of vinyl. Then Tom hit on the idea of spreading grooves so that they reached the end of the vinyl. The effect this had was to increase the volume and dynamic range because the groove was much wider. This mean the music was much louder than other singles, resulting in clubs and DJs complaining that the single nearly blowing their speakers. This begs the question, why didn't they just adjust the volume?
Although they might have complained about volume, they liked the break midway through Al Downing's I'll Be Holding On. Everything bar drums and percussion dropped out and then the started to rebuild. This was Tom's way of dealing with a key change. He gradually took out parts one by one, leaving merely drums and percussion. This breakdown grabbed the attention of record companies, DJs and dancers, with people asking why didn't Tom put these breakdowns in other records. After this Tom would add breakdowns to other tracks, something that's since been copied by remixers worldwide. However, the next step in Tom's career would see him Philly bound, where he'd remix some of his most famous mixes for Philadelphia International Records, which cane be heard on Philadelphia Classics-The Tom Moulton Remixes.
In 1974 Tom discovered the Philly Devotions' I Just Can't Say Goodbye on the Don De label. Having worked on the track at home, Tom took this to Columbia Records in New York. They loved what he'd done, and wanted him to remix the track. Although Columbia offered to send the tapes to New York, Tom decided to head to Philadelphia, having fallen in love with the Philly Sound.
Once he'd moved to Philadelphia, Tom fell in love with the city and its slower pace of life. He was constantly in demand. Having established himself in Philly, Tom hooked up with the two men who'd responsible for the Philly Sound, Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff. Gamble and Huff and Tom Moulton met through The Trammps manager Harry Chipetz. At first, Tom thought that Gamble and Huff hadn't any need for Tom's help. However, eventually, Harry Chipetz brought Tom into the "Philly family." Initially, Harry brought the forthcoming albums about to be released, to see whether Tom could do anything with the music. The first song Tom chose was a People's Choice track Do It Any Way You Wanna. However, when Tom first got involved with the Philly Sound, there was a backlash against with music coming out of Philly.
The problem was some people in the black community felt that the Philly Sound was being transformed into music for white people, with the addition of strings and horns. Tom like many people, was amazed and even annoyed. Tom decided to make a point, but needed the right track. He chose the People's Choice track Do It Any Way You Wanna, mixing it without strings or horns. This would dispel the accusation that Philly were making soul music for white people. He offered to do the song without taking a fee, but asked for his name to be put on the label, which it wasn't. On the release of Do It Any Way You Wanna, it became a huge hit, reaching number one in the US R&B Charts, while reaching the top twenty in the US Billboard 100. This would be the start of a long and fruitful relationship between Tom and Philadelphia International Records. Gamble and Huff would supply the soundtrack to the seventies and early eighties, with much of this music being remixed by Tom Moulton.
After the success of People's Choice single Do It Any Way You Wanna, Harry Chipetz approached Tom with an idea to produce an album entitled Philadelphia Classics, complete with a cover of an old Rolls Royce on the album cover. This was because Harry saw the music as rich and classy, which it really is. There was one caveat, Tom couldn't include M.F.S.B.'s Love Is the Message, as it had already been a hit. However, Tom wasn't keen, because Love Is the Message was the track he desperately wanted to remix. Eventually, the label changed their mind, allowing Love Is the Message to be on the album. This changed Tom's mind and his album of remixes went ahead, including Love Is the Message, the song which he's most proud of. The resulting album was a huge success, and over the next few years, Tom became Philadelphia International Records' go-to-guy for remixes. Tom remixed many of the label's biggest singles, with many of these tracks featuring on Philadelphia Classics-The Tom Moulton Remixes, which I'll now tell you about.
Philadelphia Classics-The Tom Moulton Remixes is a four-disc box set which features thirty-one tracks. These track are chronologically arranged, with Disc One covering the period between 8 July 1972 and the release of The O'Jays' Back Stabbers to 6 October 1973 and the release of The Three Degrees' Dirty Ol' Man. In total, there are eight tracks on Disc One, with tracks from Philly giants The O'Jays who have two tracks on Disc One, while Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes, Billy Paul and The Three Degrees have one apiece. The other three tracks include a duo from The Intruders and one from Johnny Williams. Read more ›