Philly soul from the early '70s was born from smooth '50s doo-wop and the luxurious strings of Phil Spector's wall of sound -- and Thom Bell, a classically trained arranger and producer, was the sound's architect. Dreaming of building a second Motown in Philadelphia, Bell first whipped up the soundtrack to a million romances with the Delfonics' melancholy "La-La (Means I Love You)" and "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)." After the vocal trio split from Bell, singer Randy Cain formed Blue Magic, while his former producer also moved on. Behind the falsetto of the Stylistics' Russell Thompkins Jr., Bell racked up a bevy of lush hits: "You're a Big Girl Now," "You Make Me Feel Brand New," and "Betcha by Golly Wow."
The '70s Soul Jam tour will also extend its hospitality to New Jersey's Manhattans ("Kiss and Say Goodbye" and "Shining Star") and the Emotions, an all-female group whose tenure with producer Maurice White (of Earth, Wind & Fire) yielded the classic "Best of My Love."