Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Different Philly Sound: City Limits - Circles (1975)

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City Limits

( LP TSOP Records, 1975 )
Catalog # PZ 34110

One-album soul vocal quartet. Hailed from Philadelphia.
Terri Wells
Clayton Wortham
Vicki Lyn Reynolds
Ronald Richardson
Led by Bruce Hawes.

Tracklisting & Hide Credits:
A1 People (We Need A Change)
Producer, Arranged By – Bruce Hawes
Written-By – B. Hawes, C. Biggs 4:00
A2 Love Is Everywhere
Arranged By – Jack Faith
Producer – Bruce Hawes, Joseph Jefferson
Written-By – B. Hawes, C. Simmons, J. Jefferson 4:17
A3 Circles
Producer – Joseph Jefferson
Producer, Arranged By – Bruce Hawes
Written-By – B. Hawes, C. Biggs, T. Wortham 7:15
A4 Uncle James
Producer – Bruce Hawes
Written-By – Joseph Jefferson 3:45
B1 Love Is Real
Arranged By – Jack Faith
Producer – Bruce Hawes
Written-By – B. Hawes 5:13
B2 Words Without Love
Arranged By – Talmadge Conway
Producer – Bruce Hawes
Written-By – B. Hawes, C. Simmons, J. Jefferson 4:19
B3 Lucy Lane
Producer, Arranged By – Bruce Hawes
Written-By – B. Hawes, J. Jefferson 6:49
B4 Love (I Guess That's The Fool In Me)
Arranged By – Norman Harris
Producer – Bruce Hawes
Written-By – B. Hawes, C. Biggs 4:23

Design – Paula Scher
Engineer – Jay Mark, Jim Gallagher, Ken Present
Lead Vocals [Uncredited] – Ronald Richardson, Clayton Wortham, Terry Wells, Vicki Lyn Richardson
Photography By – Don Hunstein

Format:Vinyl, LP, Album, Promo
Rear of sleeve embossed. Label printed with "Demonstration - Not For Sale".
Companies etc:
Recorded At – Sigma Sound Studios
Mastered At – Frankford/Wayne Recording Labs
Distributed By – CBS Inc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – CBS Inc.
Copyright (c) – CBS Inc.
Barcode and Other Identifiers:
Matrix / Runout (A Side Label): AL 34110
Matrix / Runout (B Side Label): BL 34110
**Also on Japanese paper sleeve edition-re-issued on CD

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Not one of the most famous groups on the Philly scene – but a great one! The band's got a two-male/two-female harmony sound, with some nice jazzy inflections that remind us of similarly-structured groups, like Side Effect and Creative Source during their Polygram years. The album's got a great modern soul sound, with some sophisticated arrangements by Bruce Hawes and Norman Harris that are in a perfect late Philly mode. Cuts include "Love Is Real", "Uncle James", "Circles", "Words Without Love", "People (We Need A Change)", and "Love Is Everywhere".
© 1996-2015, Dusty Groove America, Inc.

By Andrew Hamilton (AMG):
City Limits is an offshoot of the Overbrook Singers from the Philadelphia high school of the same name. Their only album features songs by a host of Philly's finest scribes: Cynthia Biggs, Joe Jefferson, Bruce Hawes, Charles Simmons, and Ted Wortham are comparable to tracks by the Spinners and other beneficiaries of the Philly Machine. This fine effort didn't just fall through a crack, it never got out the starting gate. Despite thoughtful ditties like the up-tempo, stomping "People (We Need a Change)," "Uncle James," which first appeared on New York City's debut album, "Circles," and "Love (I Guess That's the Fool in Me)." The female lead, presumably Terri Wells, sounds like Tammi Terrell. Hopefully, this and other TSOP, Gamble, North Bay, and Philadelphia International tracks that went unnoticed will start appearing on compilation CDs.

Biography by Andrew Hamilton (AMG):
City Limits evolved from the Overbrook Singers, a gospel group formed by Ted Wortham and Raye Walter at Overbrook High School in Philadelphia: the first gospel group organized in Philadelphia's public school system since the abolition of bible reading. They grew to 50 stirring voices and specialized in performing original songs, which set them apart from similar groups. Members included Annette Guest, Rochelle Fleming, and Wardell Piper (aka First Choice), and they scored a big secular hit with "Armed and Extremely Dangerous" on Philly Groove Records, but continued traveling and singing with the Overbrook Singers until they graduated. In the early '70s, member Bruce Hawes joined Philadelphia International Records and greased the path for the Overbrook Singers to become the label's first gospel group. Hawes graduated from Olney High in Philadelphia but became an Overbrook Singer when they opened their membership to students and alumni of other schools.

city limits ad flyer

By the time their sole album, Circle, surfaced on TSOP Records in 1976, the once robust group was a quartet and more akin to the Fifth Dimension than the dynamic God-praising choir that could stir the dead. After the big shakedown, City Limits consisted of Terri Wells, Clayton Wortham, Ronald Richardson, and Vicki Lyn Reynolds, and signed as a soul/pop group, not a gospel act. The neglected LP contains some good moments including "People We Need a Change," written by Cynthia Biggs and Hawes; after two minutes, the piano player and drummer fight for attention and change the tempo from a funk groove to a maniacal throbber. And if that's not enough, the female lead sounds like Tammi Terrell. Other nuggets including "Uncle James," also recorded on their I'm Doing Fine album. Three ex-members of the Overbrook Singers, Biggs, Hawes, and Theodore Wortham, Jr., along with non-members Joe Jefferson and Charles Simmons, wrote the eight songs for that album. Clayton is founder Ted Wortham's brother. Terri Wells toured with Dexter Wansel, Roy Ayers, and Fat Larry's Band; she cut the solo albums Watch Out, on WMOT, and 21st Century Fox, on Omni Records as Brandi Wells. The late Ronald Richardson enjoyed success as an actor and played many memorable roles on television and stage. He played a preacher on 227, the sitcom starring Marla Gibbs, and won a Tony for his part in Huck Finn on Broadway. Vicki Lyn Reynolds (Ronald's sister) acted in the same mediums as her brother, co-starring in the series Sugar and Spice, and playing a forest ranger in an episode of 227. Reynolds' other achievements include a Sprint commercial with Candice Bergan, and a starring role on Broadway in Bring In da Noise, Bring In da Funk.

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''Words Without Love''

On Line:
Dusty Groove

Original post: 26/11/2008

(Demo Short Clips - not downloadables)
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