Album Reviews

MFSB: Universal Love (Big Break Records)

mfsb

MFSB
Universal Love
Big Break Records/Cherry Red

MFSB was the name of Philadelphia International Records‘ house band, a loosely-defined collective of musicians who worked with the production team of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff on some of the label’s most beloved and successful records. In 1973, MFSB’s second album Love Is The Message, housed what would become the band’s most successful single, “TSOP,” which would top the charts, earn the group a Grammy award (or Best R&B Instrumental Performance,  and forever become better known as the theme to Soul Train. The album itself would go to the top of the Billboard Soul charts, and  to #4 of the Album charts.

Universal Love rode that wave of success and continued the group’s enjoyable, groove-heavy instrumental R&B. Since the release of their last record, Disco had started its rise in popularity; in 1974, Billboard would include disco in its charts. Universal Love is an album that is very much of that era, as their dance rhythms would soon become commonplace in dance clubs and radio stations across the country. The first single, “Sexy,” would go straight to the top of the Disco charts, and it’s understandable why; the sinuous grooves made for perfect dance music, as would “T.L.C. (Tender Loving Care),” the album’s second single. But Universal Love held a number of great album tracks as well, such as the hard-to-resist “Let’s Go Disco,” the mellow funk of “Love Has No Time Or Place,” the easy listening “My Mood,” and, most notably, “K-Jee,” which would be included on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, and would be a successful single in 1978

MFSB would continue on, though around this time they lost several key players due to creative differences, who went on to form the equally wonderful instrumental group The Salsoul Orchestra. Universal Love is a delightful little record from four decades past, with sounds that have aged wonderfully.

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