Thursday, 14 January 2010

RIP Teddy Pendergrass 1950 - 2010

There goes the hope that 2010 might have been the year we weren't losing legends left, right and centre as I've got home today to hear the devastating news that we have lost Teddy Pendergrass.

As is often the case with me, my entry point is usually when someone covers or samples (read: ruins) a soul classic and this was the case for me with both Pendergrass' solo work and with Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes. Although I wouldn't say DJ Sneak's 'You Can't Hide From Your Bud' from 1996, is a bad record, it didn't stand up once I went back to find the original. I don't think the same could really be said about the Communards take on 'Don't Leave Me This Way' from ten years earlier but everyone needs something to introduce them to greatness.

Looking through the other tributes from the last few hours, this quote stood out as being pretty much spot on:

From Craig Werners book 'A Change is Gonna Come'.

'A surprising number of Philly Internationals biggest hits echo the emotional tone of 'Ship Ahoy'. Featuring the gritty gospel vocals of Teddy Pendergrass, who would become a major star as a solo act, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes sang about separation, loss, emotional devastation. Although the lyrics of 'I miss you', 'If you don't know me by know' and 'Don't leave me his way' all deal with personal relationships, its not hard to hear them as masked warnings of the chasm opening between black and white, young and old, rich and poor. We've given it our best shot, Pendergrass testifies, and it come to nothing. Pendergrass's gospel moan at the beginning of 'Don't leave me this way' wouldn't have been out of place in the poorest church in the most destitute part of Philly's south side ghetto. The fact that it comes on top of a disco beat simply tells you that the party had a tormented soul'

Read more on his life on his wikipedia entry here

As for a choice of tracks, this 6MS mix is a great place to start including some of these and more:
And of course the aforementioned classic:
I thought I'd put up two edits which don't spoil the originals too much and that maybe one or two people may not have heard to compare against the originals.
Harold Melvin and The Bluenotes - Switch Track (Theo Parrish Ugly Edit 2) 
Teddy Pendergrass - You Can’t Hide from Yourself (OOFT Edit) 

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