Larry Carlton’s latest album, Larry Carlton Plays the Sound of Philadelphia: A Tribute to Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff, was recently reviewed by Vintage Guitar magazine. Check it out:
On this album, some of the most soulful songs in the history of pop music get lush melodic arrangements accompanied by a guitarist noted for his technical skill and soulful playing. But is it a good fit? The answer is “yes.” And while some may argue the song selection and arrangements here play it too safe, anyone familiar with later Wes Montgomery records could argue there is no better way!
The Spinners were a big part of the Sound of Philly, and theirs are three of the best cuts here. Carlton uses octaves and double-stops for the melody on “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love.” Vocals fill the chorus, while Carlton plays melodic fills and an on-the money solo. “I’ll Be Around” stands as a high point. The other Spinners tune, “Mighty Love,” gets the full 335 treatment on the melody with a big, fat sound that cuts like a knife through butter. Cuts like “Back Stabbers,” “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” and “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” feature Carlton covering the melodies, darting around chord changes, and lending the necessary soul.
Some won’t like the arrangements, the addition of voices, or the song choices on this set. But it’s difficult to question Carlton’s soulfulness and ability.