Classics: MFSB – Mysteries Of The World (Philadelphia International Records)
How, despite such a reunion of talents, no one has ever been able (wanted?) to keep MFSB alive? I guess this sad reality will remain to me one of the… mysteries of the world! This probably explaining how I stumbled on Louie Vega, Kenny Dope & co’s work on the Nuyorican Soul more than 15 years after MFSB‘s disbanding.
By 1980, the release date of the ‘Mysteries Of The World’ album, a lot of things had already changed within the band. With many of the group members gone somewhere else to explore different horizons. From Vincent Montana, Jr. then firmly associated with Salsoul Records. To other members who’d joined either Ritchie Family or John Davis & The Monster Orchestra. As a result, no wonder why nor how this last album sounded slightly different at the end. Beginning with its title track…
Mind you, how could this have ever been different now that the nucleus of the band had left?!? This didn’t get away arranger/producer/keyboardist Dexter Wansel from delivering a real tour de force though. This along with Marc Rubin (guitar), Alphonso Carey (bass) and Quinton Joseph (drums). With ‘Mysteries Of The World’ standing as a stellar Jazz/Funk masterpiece.
Sadly enough, the label only managed to release a 7 inch shortened version of it Stateside. And its foreign representations didn’t do any better, following the example even though puttin’ it out here or there as a 12″. This makin’ of the 5:27 album version a way better investment as a matter of fact.
History will most likely remember MFSB as the biggest reunion of talents ever put together in the history of music. With thanks to P.I.R. label heads Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff who put them together by the beginning of the 70’s.
Standing for Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, MFSB acted as an in-house band for the label. Backing luminaries such as The O’Jays, McFadden & Whitehead, The Three Degrees or Teddy Pendergrass among others.
Among their members, many names you, regular of these shores, should be familiar with. From Norman Harris, Ron Baker and Thom Bell. To Bobbi Eli, Victor Carstarphen and Dexter Wansel. But also Earl Young (The Trammps) or Keith Benson who wrote ‘Can You Feel It’ for Funk Fusion Band. Not to mention John Davis who came to form the John Davis & The Monster Orchestra (remember ‘Love Magic’). Or Vincent Montana, Jr. who gave birth to The Salsoul Orchestra. Therefore crafting gems such as ‘Ooh I Love It’, ‘Run Away’ and ‘Getaway’ which they took from Earth, Wind & Fire.
MFSB have released a total of 7 albums between 1973 and 1980. Meanwhile enlightening the period with a myriad of timeless and influential gems. From their cover version of Curtis Mayfield‘s ‘Freddie’s Dead’ to ‘TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)’. Then ‘Love Is The Message’ which influenced both The Salsoul Orchestra‘s ‘Ooh I Love It’ and Madonna‘s ‘Vogue’. But also ‘Let’s Clean Up The Ghetto’ along with Philadelphia International All Stars. Not to mention their cover version of The Nite-Liters‘ ‘K-Jee’. This in addition to ‘Picnic In The Park’ and ‘Mysteries Of The World’.