TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)

Album: Love is the Message: The Best of MFSB (1973)
Charted: 22 1

Songfacts®:

  • "TSOP" was the theme for the TV show Soul Train, which the radio and television personality Don Cornelius started on a local Chicago station in 1970. The next year, it was syndicated around the United States and became a popular showcase for black music. At first, the theme song was "Hot Potatoes" by King Curtis, but in 1973, Cornelius asked Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff to write him a new song, and this is what they came up with. Gamble and Huff own Philadelphia International Records, and many of their artists were featured on Soul Train.
  • After writing this song for Soul Train, Gamble and Huff wanted to release it immediately. Instead of calling it "Soul Train," they renamed it at the request of Don Cornelius, who was very protective of his trademark. Cornelius later called his request to rename the song "the dumbest move I ever made."
  • Various versions of the song have been used on the show over the years. The song is mostly instrumental, but does have some lyrics, including the line "People all over the world" and in some versions, the words "Soul Train." The vocals were performed by The Three Degrees, who were a female vocal trio that Gamble and Huff and just signed to their label. They had a huge hit later in the year with "When Will I See You Again."
  • This song was instrumental in establishing the disco sound, reaching #1 three months before the song many authorities recognize as the first true disco chart-topper, The Hues Corporation's "Rock The Boat." Another Soul instrumental, "Love's Theme" by Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra, preceded "TSOP" at the top spot two months earlier.
  • MFSB was a racially mixed studio band formed by producers Gamble and Huff, who were architects of the "Philadelphia Soul" sound of the '70s. MFSB also recorded as The Music Makers and Family and were the house band for Gamble and Huff's Philadelphia International Records Label. This track was conceived to showcase the talents of the band.
  • This won the 1974 Grammy Award For Best Rhythm & Blues Instrumental Performance.
  • In March 2008 Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In his acceptance speech Gamble confirmed that "MFSB" stood for mother, father, sister, brother. For years, others had come up with their own interpretations of the initials.
  • MFSB were the first group whose name consists solely of an initialism or acronym to top the Hot 100. Others who have done so subsequently include AWB, ABBA, ELO (they were the Electric Light Orchestra until 1981), INXS, EMF, SWV, TLC, NKOTB (formerly New Kids On The Block), D4L, and LMFAO.

Comments: 7

  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenI first heard this as the "Soul Train" theme, then on the radio. Loved it both ways.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 24th 1974, "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)" by MFSB featuring the The Degrees entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #65; and seven weeks later on April 14th, 1974 it peaked at #1 {for 2 weeks} and spent 18 weeks on the Top 100...
    And the week it reached #1 on the Top 100 it also peaked at #1 {for 1 week} on Billboard's Hot Soul Singles chart...
    Then two weeks later on April 28th it once again it reached #1 {for 2 weeks} on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    Later in 1974 on September 22nd the The Degrees would enter the Top 100 with "When Will I See You Again" at #94; eventually it would peak at #2 {for 1 week}; and the week it was at #2, the #1 record for that week was "Kung Fu Fighting" by Carl Douglas...
    R.I.P. Soul Train's Don Corneius {1936 - 2012}.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxSticking The Three Degrees on the label for a minute of repetetive singing was basically a commercial for 'When Will I See You Again.'
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyThe Music Makers only chart once; the record was titled "United - Part 1", it peaked at No. 78 in 1967 and stayed in the Top 100 for seven weeks!!!
  • Camille from Toronto, OhOne of the best instrumentals to stand the test of time.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxI must respectfully disagree, Jeff. TSOP was more soul/funk to me than disco, though itâ
  • Jeff from Austin, TxAmazing song! Definitely a "disco" song before the the genre even existed. If you're not having a great day, just put this song on. If your feet don't tap and head doesn't nod back and forth, you're just not human.
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