Friday, May 29, 2009

Gamble and Huff Honoured

Last month I wrote about the songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland being honoured, and now it's time for Gamble and Huff.

Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff recently received the Icon Award for lifetime achievement from BMI.

Gamble and Huff embodied the "Philly Soul" sound of the early 1970's that followed the Motown era and preceeded the Disco era... From Reuters:

They wrote or co-wrote about 3,000 songs during their heyday, still own the masters and copyrights, and keep busy licensing the tunes for use in movies, TV and commercials.

"Every time I turn around, my wife is hollerin' 'One of your songs is in the movies,'" Huff, 67, said in a recent interview with Reuters, sitting alongside Gamble.

One would have to try pretty hard to go through a week without hearing a Gamble and Huff tune on the radio or the screen. The catalog includes "Love Train" by the O'Jays, "When Will I See You Again" by the Three Degrees, Paul's "Me and Mrs. Jones," Rawls' "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine," and Jerry Butler's "Only the Strong Survive" (which Butler co-wrote).

And then there are the covers, whether it be Simply Red's take on Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes' "If You Don't Know Me By Now," for which Gamble and Huff won a songwriting Grammy; Third World's update of the O'Jays' "Now That We've Found Love"; or the Rolling Stones performing "Love Train" during their recent tour.

What was the Gamble & Huff formula?

"We were looking at standard classic music that you would hear 30 years later," Huff said. "The quality was what we were into. The artists that we signed had to have a certain quality of voice and talent."

The duo's emphasis was on the arrangement of songs, establishing an undeniable rhythm with lots of strings and horns. They helped lay the foundation for disco.

Certainly a great songwriting team, and certainly worthy of the recognition... May the Muse remain with you both, Mssrs. Gamble and Huff...

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