TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)

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"TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)"
Single by MFSB featuring The Three Degrees
from the album Love is the Message
B-side "Something for Nothing"
ReleasedFebruary 6, 1974 (U.S.)
March 29, 1974 (UK)
Genre Philadelphia soul, disco
Length3:43(album cut)
3:29 (single version)
5:48 (12" version)
Label Philadelphia International Records
Songwriter(s) Gamble and Huff
Producer(s) Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff

"TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)" is a 1974 hit recording by MFSB featuring vocals by The Three Degrees. A classic example of the Philadelphia soul genre, it was written by Gamble and Huff as the theme for the American musical television program Soul Train , which specialized in African American musical performers. The single was released on the Philadelphia International Records label. It was the first television theme song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100, [1] and it is arguably the first disco song to reach that position.


The song is essentially an instrumental piece, featuring a lush blend of string instrument and horn section in the Philadelphia soul style. There are only two vocal parts to the song: a passage close to the beginning during which The Three Degrees sing "People all over the world!"; and the chorus over the fadeout, "Let's get it on/It's time to get down". The words "People all over the world!" are not heard in the original version. The version heard on Soul Train also had the series title sung over the first four notes of the melody, "Soul Train, Soul Train". This particular version was released on a 1975 Three Degrees album, International .

"TSOP" hit number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1974 and remained there for two weeks, the first television theme song to do so in the history of that chart. [1] It also topped the American Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (for one week) and adult contemporary (for two weeks). [2] The Three Degrees would revisit the top of the AC chart later in 1974 with their hit single, "When Will I See You Again".

Don Cornelius, the creator and host of Soul Train, refused to allow any references to the name of the television series when the single was released, leading Gamble and Huff to adopt the alternate title for the release. Cornelius would later admit that not allowing the single to be named Soul Train was a major mistake on his part. [3] (As a result, the Three Degrees' singing of the show's name "Soul Train" during the chorus as heard on the TV version is not heard on the single.)

Although it was rerecorded a number of times for future versions of the show, and various different themes were used during the late 1970s and early 1980s, "TSOP" returned in the late 1980s and remained the theme song for Soul Train through the disco, 1980s rhythm and blues, new jack swing, hip hop music, and neo soul eras of black music.

Covers and samples

"TSOP" was covered by Dexys Midnight Runners and released as a B-side on the 12" version of the "Jackie Wilson Said" single, later issued on the remastered version of the album Too-Rye-Ay . The band also used it to open some of their live shows.

Another remake of the tune was made in 1978 by reggae band Inner Circle, who had a history of covering American soul songs in the laid-back reggae style of the late 1970s.

Two more covers were made in 1987 (by George Duke), and 1999 (by Sampson); both versions would be used as themes for Soul Train. The 1999 theme would be used until Soul Train 's final episode in 2006.

In 1998, German act BMR featuring Dutch singer Felicia Uwaje sampled the single in their song Check It Out.

A similar melody is used in the anime series Haré+Guu .

Uses of the song

The song is played at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia prior to every Philadelphia Phillies home game. The song was also played after Vancouver Whitecaps (1974–1984) NASL home games at Empire Stadium in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and after Vancouver Whitecaps (1986–2010) CSL home games in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Game Ka Na Ba? , a Philippines game show hosted by actor/politician Edu Manzano, used an adaptation of "TSOP" (Tanya) called "Papayo Yowza" as its theme. The song's opening was also sampled as program identification for all Philadelphia 76ers games broadcast on WPHT in the mid-to-late 1970s and also used as a during timeout and before cut into a commercial break for the CBS Sports NBA on CBS games in the beginning of the 1975 NBA playoffs until the 1976 NBA Finals.

Chart history

Related Research Articles

The Three Degrees

The Three Degrees are an American female vocal group, which were originally formed in circa 1963 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although 15 women have been members over the years, the group has always been a trio. The current line-up consists of Valerie Holiday, Helen Scott and Freddie Pool. Holiday has been a member since she first joined in 1967, while Scott has been a permanent member since 1976, having been in the group from 1963 to 1966. The group were particularly successful in the UK, achieving 13 Top 50 hit singles between 1974 and 1985.

<i>Soul Train</i>

Soul Train is an American music-dance television program which aired in syndication from October 2, 1971, to March 27, 2006. In its 35-year history, the show primarily featured performances by R&B, soul, dance/pop, and hip hop artists, although funk, jazz, disco, and gospel artists also appeared. The series was created by Don Cornelius, who also served as its first host and executive producer.

MFSB, officially standing for "Mother Father Sister Brother", was a pool of more than 30 studio musicians based at Philadelphia’s Sigma Sound Studios. They worked closely with the production team of Gamble and Huff and producer/arranger Thom Bell, and backed up such groups as Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, the O’Jays, the Stylistics, the Spinners, Wilson Pickett, and Billy Paul.

Philadelphia International Records (PIR) was an American record label that is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1971 by the songwriting and production duo, Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, along with their long time collaborator Thom Bell. It was famous for showcasing the Philadelphia soul music genre that was founded on the gospel, doo-wop, and soul music of the time. This 'Philly Soul' sound later became a prominent and distinct era within the R&B genre itself. During the 1970s the label released a string of worldwide hits which emphasized lavish orchestral instrumentation, heavy bass, and driving percussion.

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