Bobby Hebb and the Gamble/Huff Sound
By Joe Viglione
Lou Rawls took "A Natural Man" went to #17 on the pop charts on 10/16/71, according to Joel Whitburn's Billboard book of Top 40 Hits. And though Bobby Hebb co-wrote, it won Lou a Grammy, it wasn't until July 1976 that Rawls went Gold and hit #2 with his biggest song, "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine". It hit #1 on the AC charts, and more important, was that Philly Sound of Gamble & Huff - something that was built around Bobby Hebb.
You see, Kenny Gamble wrote "Love Me", the sequel to "Sunny", and then he and Leon Huff produced Bobby on Phillips with the great double single "You Want To Change Me" - written by Gamble & Huff, and Hebb's own "Dreamy", which Bobby told this writer on April 13, 2003, he wrote with Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech in mind- that we are all dreamers and can make our dreams reality. The fascinating thing about the single is how much both sides owe to Jimmy Webb's June 17, 1967 Top 10 smash for The Fifth Dimension, produced by Johnny Rivers. The string section in "You Want To Change Me" borrows heavily from "Up-Up And Away" - and Hebb's intro to "Dreamy" is a definite tribute to that classic Fifth Dimension disc. "That's the song I had in mind (Up-Up And Away)" Bobby told me in that same conversation on Sunday, April 13, 2003, a few hours before writing this essay at 2:38 AM on Monday, April 14th.
My review of Bobby's "Love Games" on www.allmusic.com speaks volumes about where Hebb was taking soul music. It really is a premonition of The Philly Sound- Hebb recording the Love Games album in the bigger studio while Sly and The Family Stone were tracking "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again) (#1, January 1970) or was it November 1971's "Family Affair" - Family Stone recording in the smaller studio.
Have to check which song it was with Bobby, but the fact of the matter is, somehow Gamble & Huff should have found a way to bring Mr. Hebb to their roster, a roster that included the acts on the Philidelphia Soul CD "Let 'Em In"
(Heres a description from EBay - Billy Paul/Lou Rawls/etc Item # 2523394623 Music:CDs, Records and Tapes:CDs:R&B/Soul
"Let 'Em In - The Soul of Philidelphia" CD
Released 1993. CD, insert and case in good condition. (This from EBAY)
groovy people - lou rawls
can't we try - teddy pendergrass
bring the family back - billy paul
i found that man of mine - jones girls
never let you get away - anthony white
and i'll see you no more
put your hands together - the o'jays
what color is love - dee dee sharp gamble
free love - jean carn
all night long - dexter wansel
don't be an island - jerry butler
see you when i get there - lou rawls
every body have a good time - archie bell and the drells
sunshine and you - futures
i'm so much in love with you - anthony white
i can't live without you - teddy pendergrass
let 'em in - billy paul
Well, that item is going for 99 cents while Bobby Hebb's fantastic "Dreamy" / "You Want To Change Me" sells briskly for $50.00 on Gemm (it was up for about an hour on Gemm.com) and on Ebay - all the time - white label and blue label versions go for big bucks. It took me a year to get a copy - a year - and while we bought one for 30.00 in March of 2003 another copy went for 30 to 50.00 the week before. It is amazing how this single is such a prized and pricey item. It sounds great and is highly collectible.
Scott Couper downloaded wave files of the single from our friend Dazz in the UK, and he sweetened up the 45 RPM from obtained Neil in the uk (who is also looking for the video to "You Want To Change Me" for us) - the files were downloaded on April 10 and we made discs for myself, Bobby and Joe Tortelli.
They were put in the mail when i got home from Danny Klein's house. DK and Bobby to be tracking THE SUMMER WIND for my movie of the same name any week now.
This is just the first bunch of thoughts on Bobby's work with Gamble & Huff and how his participation in their 70's roster would have made for some incredible chart action.