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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
“…Bitter Sweet…” - Love Is The Message by MFSB (September 2012 BBR Expanded CD Remaster)

“…Bitter Sweet…”

On the front sleeve of this 1973 album is a collage photo of something you don't see every day on a Soul album. There's a deathly skull beneath a First World War helmet, Second World War Nazi Swastikas to the left, Fifties hooded Clansmen to the right and a Sixties atomic mushroom cloud below.

The early Seventies saw Black Consciousness explode on the music scene like never before. And this wasn't just songs about "girl I miss you..." or "girl let's get it on Saturday night...". This was a full-on and heartfelt expression of a deep-rooted need - a rage against inequality, bigotry and segregation in American society. A hope that music could make it stop - or at least move the goalposts a little closer to solution even harmony. Up step Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff of Philadelphia Interntional Records with one eye on the commercial and one hand on the heart. "Love" was indeed the message. Here are the Mother Father Sister and Brother details for this excellent British CD reissue...

UK released September 2012 on Big Break Records BBRCD 0179 (Barcode 5013929047938) here are the details (54:35 minutes):

1. Zack's Fanfare
2. Love Is The Message
3. Cheaper To Keep Her
4. My One And Only Love
5. TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)
6. Zack's Fanfare (I Hear Music)
7. Touch Me In The Morning
8. Bitter Sweet
Tracks 1 to 8 are the vinyl album "Love Is The Message" released December 1973 in the USA on Philadelphia International KZ 32707.
9. Love Is The Message (Single Version)
10. TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia) (A Tom Moulton Mix) - both 9 and 10 feature The Three Degrees.

The 16-page booklet is the usual great job done by BBR - rare foreign 7" picture sleeves, US 7" Philly labels, liner notes by Rico "Superbizzee" Washington (writes for USA magazines and hosts a radio show) with discography info as well. But the big news as ever is the NICK ROBBINS and WAYNE A. DICKSON remaster which is incredible - beautiful lush sound - real presence.

"Love..." is an album of instrumentals some of which work - some don't while others just feel like schlock ("My One And Only" and "Touch me In The Morning") or filler ("Zack's Fanfare" which appears twice). In between are those great Philly dancers - and how good is it to hear the full album cut of "Love is The Message" at 6:36 minutes. The chipper and almost note-for-note cover of Johnnie Taylor's "Cheaper To Keep Her" has always been a favourite of mine (he had a hit with it on Stax earlier in 1973). It ends on a high note with the brilliant Jack Faith and Bruce Hawes instrumental "Bitter Sweet" - as cool and as lovely as Philly gets.

It's all genius by any stretch of the imagination but what is on here now sounds stunning - and if you're a fan of Seventies Soul or Philly - a must own.

PS: Big Break Records (BBR) CD Remasters I’ve reviewed to October 2015:
1. Is It Still Good To Ya – ASHFORD and SIMPSON (1978)
2. Stay Free – ASHFORD and SIMPSON (1979)
3. Central Heating – HEATWAVE (1977)
4. Hot Property - HEATWAVE (1979)
5. Candles - HEATWAVE (1980)
6. Turnin' On - HIGH INERGY (1977)
7. Harvest For The World - THE ISLEY BROTHERS (1976)
8. Go For Your Guns - THE ISLEY BROTHERS (1977)
9. In The Heart – KOOL & THE GANG (1983)
10. I Hope We Get To Love On Time - MARILYN McCOO & BILLY DAVIS (1976)
11. I Miss You - HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUE NOTES (1972) [known as "Harold Melvin The Blue Notes" in the UK]
12. Black & Blue - HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUE NOTES (1973)
13. Love Is The Message - MFSB (1973)
14. Universal Love – MFSB (1975)
15. All The Faces Of... - BUDDY MILES (1974)
16. For The First Time – STEPHANIE MILLS (1975)
17. I Can See Clearly Now - JOHNNY NASH (1972)
18. In Philadelphia - O'JAYS (1969)
19. Back Stabbers - O'JAYS (1972)
20. Ship Ahoy - O'JAYS (1973)
21. Down To Love Town – THE ORIGINALS (1977)
22. Ebony Woman - BILLY PAUL (1970 and 1973)
23. 360 Degrees Of Billy Paul - BILLY PAUL (1972)
24. War Of The Gods - BILLY PAUL (1973)
25. Platinum Hook – PLATINUM HOOK (1978)
26. Love For What It Is - ANITA POINTER (of The Pointer Sisters) (1987)
27. Live: Stompin’ At The Savoy – RUFUS and CHAKA KHAN (1983)
28. Summernights – SILVER CONVENTION (1977)
29. Smoked Sugar - SMOKED SUGAR (1975)
30. Soul Master – EDWIN STARR (1968)
31. Involved - EDWIN STARR (1971)
32. Switch - SWITCH (1978)
33 Watercolors – THE WATERS (1980)
34. Just As I Am - BILL WITHERS (1971 Debut LP on Sussex/A&M Records)
35. Heartbeats – YARBROUGH & PEOPLES (1983)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 March 2014
Heard this in a music shop, or rather, one track from it on another compilation. So I bought it, and have been hopping up and down ever since. Fabulous band, fabulous reminder of the best of the 70/80's.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2013
Recomend this album,feal good factor is in the sound,easy listning,warm tunes, reflecting hot 70s summer nights,buy it if you like to make your guest chill out.
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on 21 May 2015
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