Song: “TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)” by MFSB featuring the Three Degrees
Reached #1: April 20, 1974 (their first, 2 weeks)
It was the song that’s credited with changing music history in two ways: it started the Disco Era, and it gave a signature sound to R&B’s weekly show of record, Soul Train.
From 1973 to 1975, and again from 1987 to 1993, “TSOP” was the Soul Train theme song – which meant that it was in use on Soul Train for the better part of a year before hitting #1 on the Billboard charts.
Let’s face it, I wasn’t exactly a big Soul Train watcher back in the day. I wasn’t quite in their core demographic, after all. But you couldn’t evade the show’s influence if you listened to the radio – Soul Train found, and pushed, R&B acts that had no other way to get national attention.
And, for a group like MFSB, Soul Train was the launchpad to pop success. MFSB didn’t really exist as a group – it was the name given to the studio band for Gamble & Huff’s Philadelphia International records – until shortly before “TSOP” hit the charts. But if you heard a Philly International song in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, you heard MFSB backing the featured artist. Acts like Teddy Pendergrass, the Spinners, the O’Jays and, of course, the Three Degrees (featured on “TSOP”) used their services. They shaped the Philly Sound, which evolved into disco in the late ‘70s.
So they’re a one-hit wonder. It was a pretty big hit, no?
There’s a version of MFSB still touring these days. It’s not the same group, of course, as members of the original MFSB splintered into several orchestras.
Tomorrow, the first big hit for a kid from Tupelo. At the time, he seemed to have a pretty bright future.
Other songs that reached #1 on April 20:
1991 – “You’re In Love” by Wilson Phillips (their third, 1 week)
2002 – “Foolish” by Ashanti (her first, 10 weeks)