It would have been his 65th birthday today. While writing this, I am listening to his brilliant 1988 LP “Joy” which sums up the amazing artistry of Teddy Pendergrass. Eight classic tracks, mostly mid-tempo swayers with extraordinary background vocals and tight production. Even though the album was recorded in the late 80s when bizarre keyboard and synth sounds were the order, producers Reggie and Vincent Calloway, Miles Jaye, Nick Martinelli, and Teddy himself created an album that is still coherent and top-notch to this day.
Just listening to the out-of-this-world background vocals by Charlene Holloway, Cynthia Biggs, Annette Hardeman, Elizabeth Hogue, and Tenita Jordan makes me aware how much projects like this are missed these days. The climax starts with side 2 and the Calloway-penned and produced “Love Is The Power” with Teddy in top form, with a magical sax solo by Marc Russo (he’s actually speaking with his sax) and the inimitable backing vocals. And then there is the real showstopper: the Gabriel and Annette Hardeman-written “This Is The Last Time” with mind-blowing vocals and a stunning solo by Charlene Holloway.
Of course, he will not be forgotten thanks to his incredible work on so many songs by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes and later for his solo work which started on the legendary Philadelphia International Records in 1977 and which gave us so many unforgettable songs like “Love T.K.O.”, “Close The Door”, “Turn Off The Lights”, “Come Go With Me”, “The Whole Town’s Laughing At Me”, etc.
Teddy Pendergrass died much too soon on January 13th, 2010.