MGF Reviews The 3 Tenors of Soul – All the Way from Philadelphia

The 3 Tenors of Soul – All the Way from Philadelphia
Shanachie (9/25/07)
R&B / Soul

The 3 Tenors of Soul are Russell Thompkins Jr., William “Poogie” Hart and Ted “Wizard” Mills. Crafted from the Philadelphia soul sound of the 1970s, each man once helmed their own musical group (respectively, The Stylistics, The Delfonics and Blue Magic). Today, the trio has come together to record All the Way from Philadelphia, and the results are surprisingly unspectacular given the historical significance of the talent involved.

The title track is an obvious keeper. Hall & Oates join The Tenors on this up-tempo, autobiographical road trip to another time. Unfortunately, this is the only original material on the album as the other nine tracks are covers of previously recorded music.

It’s not that The Tenors’ renditions of such songs as “How Could I Let You Get Away” (originally performed by The Spinners) and “Too Much Heaven” (Barry Gibb) are hard on the ears, it’s just that they don’t really bring anything new to the table. These were all men who, decades ago, helped define the seminal sound of a generation and now they appear to be going through the motions. Occasionally, they’re impressive, but all too often their collective presence is simply absent.

Admittedly, their paint-by-numbers approach on “Caravan of Love” is good music, but by their own standard, the bar should be raised to “great” and anything short of that has to be considered disappointing.

And, proving that hip-hop isn’t the only industry susceptible to ill-advised ideas, who thought that classics such as “I Can’t Go For That” and “That’s What Friends Are For” should’ve been touched by anyone except the original artists? (OK… and Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder and Elton John in the case of the latter.)

Don’t let this review dissuade you if you have an ear for this sound. All the Way from Philadelphia is still a good—at times, very good—album in an era where African-American music has been commercialized almost to extinction. Still, one can’t help thinking that this album could’ve and should’ve been better.