Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Monday, 13 January 2014

Life Is A Song Worth Singing

Today marks four years since the death of Teddy Pendergrass; one my favourite soul singers and Philadelphia International Records' bestselling male artist of his time.

Teddy began his P.I.R. career in Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes in 1972.  After a string of hit singles and albums he left the group in 1975.

His first four solo albums went platinum, and it's two of these that I was lucky enough to pick up at a car boot sale in the summer for £1 each.

His second solo album Life Is A Song Worth Singing is kick started with the danceable title track, and the tempo barely drops until it's time to turn over after the ecstatic exhortation to Get Up, Get Down, Get Funky, Get Loose and let Teddy's gruff baritone seduce you with one of his bedroom classics Close The Door.  Another smoocher follows then one of my favourite songs, the Gamble & Huff-penned When Somebody Loves You Back brings things to a close.

Teddy Pendergrass - Life Is A Song Worth Singing

Rear cover

Teddy was well-known during his early solo career for his "ladies only" concerts and was the archetypal 70s black sex symbol (surely an inspiration for Lenny Henry's Theophilous P. Wildebeest!).  Gone were the Bluenotes' tuxes and in were open-necked shirts or vests, with plenty of medallion necklaces.

By now he'd become a huge star with a mansion, lots of expensive cars and many women at his disposal.

His next platinum album was named simply "Teddy" and was released the following year:

Teddy Pendergrass - Teddy (1979)

Rear cover

"Teddy" is a record of two halves.  Side 1 is a wall-to-wall lurve-fest, opening with the wonderfully sexy Come Go With Me, then the follow-up to Close The Door in the shape of Turn Off The Lights.  How could you resist?  Two more slowies complete the side; the reflective I'll Never See Heaven Again and the pleading All I Need Is You, then it's back to the dancefloor for Side 2, my favourite of it's four tracks being the Philly groover Set Me Free.

Come Go With Me

All of Teddy's first five albums are essential for fans of Philly soul and there's much to like in those that followed, although these earlier ones have more danceable songs mixed in with the romantic ballads.

In March 1982 Teddy was involved in a car accident in which he suffered a spinal cord injury that rendered him quadriplegic.  After a time away from the public eye while he underwent rehabilitation, he returned to recording and released albums from 1984 up until the 90s.

He died aged 59 from complications following surgery for colon cancer, after living with his disability for a staggering 28 years.

Theodore DeReese Pendergrass 1950-2010

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