PHILLY SOUL AT ITS BEST…BLUE MAGIC!!!!!!
Blue Magic was a combination of a group known as “Shades of Love” and Ted Mills, who was a member of “The Top picks”. The former band was good, but lacked an outstanding lead singer….Ted Mills solved that. Blue Magic was born…and his falsetto vocals are among the best in R&B History!!!
Blue Magic was one of the best Philly Soul groups that weren’t a formal member of the Philadelphia International Records family of artists. In that respect, they join acts such as Thom Bell’s Delfonics, Stylistics, and Spinners.
Most consider Philly Soul a sound…one that was characteristic of many artists from that time. However, because of my respect for Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Thom Bell…I don’t call anything Philly Soul unless it has something to do with them. After all, they are the trio who are credited with the creation of that gorgeous sound!!! However, Blue Magic is an exception. Let me explain…
Thom Bell was an independent producer, writer, and arranger who happened to be a close friend of Kenny Gamble. They went back to childhood and virtually grew up in the music business together. In fact, they performed together as “Kenny & Tommy” and “Kenny & The Romeos” back in the day!!! For those who have never heard Kenny Gamble sing, he had a gorgeous and rich baritone!!!
Long story short, Thom Bell, though not a formal partner with Gamble & Huff at PIR, was treated as if he was. He and his artists were afforded full use of their facilities, etc. Along with Kenny and Leon, Thom is credited with being a major architect of the Philly Soul Sound.
In my opinion, Thom created a new kind of R&B music. He was known for his lush and shimmering writing and arrangements!!! His work was more ethereal, while that of Gamble & Huff, more earthy. Together, they were FANTASTIC!!!! They formed a music publishing company called “Mighty Three Music”.
So how does this relates to Blue Magic?? All of their material was produced by PIR veteran, Norman Harris, who also co-wrote some of their songs. Many of their hits were written or co-written by lead singer, Ted Mills…with other members of that wonderful PIR writing staff. In fact, when you look at the production and writing credits on their songs, it’s like a “Who’s Who” list of Philadelphia International Records!!!
So…they got the “Thom Bell treatment”…full use of Sigma Sigma Sound Studios and PIR’s house band, MFSB, backing them.
Once again, we have an artist that was not a formal member of PIR but was treated as if they were because of their affiliation with PIR personnel. Philadelphia International was unique in this respect…and because of it, their “family of artists” was extended to many who didn’t record on their label. Blue Magic was recorded on Atco Records during their best years.