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Threefer: The Delfonics

On July 14, William “Poogie” Hart, co-founder and lead singer of the Philadelphia soul trio The Delfonics, died of complications from surgery. He was 77.

Hart and The Delfonics helped define “The Sound of Philadelphia” in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s with their falsetto vocals and lush orchestral arrangements courtesy of producer Thom Bell. This Threefer will highlight the group’s three biggest hits, all of which were co-written by Hart.

“La-La (Means I Love You)”

Songwriters: Thom Bell and William Hart
Released: January 1968
Charts: #4 pop, #2 R&B

A gorgeous ballad with a big hook, I love Hart’s phrasing and how he puts emphasis on certain lyrics. “Many guys have come to you/With a line that wasn’t true.”

Hart revealed years later in the documentary Unsung that the title was inspired by his infant son.

“My son used to always wake up and he would say ‘La-la, la-la,’ And I thought, wow, ‘La-la’ means l love you. That cuts out a lot of words and it gets right to the point.”

“Ready or Not Here I Come (Can’t Hide from Love)”

Songwriters: Thom Bell and William Hart
Released: October 1968
Charts: #35 pop, #14 R&B

I really dig the dramatic horn intro, which may have been inspired by Elmer Bernstein’s score to The Ten Commandments.

“My hobby was going to biblical movies, like when Charlton Heston played Moses,” Hart told the British newspaper The Guardian in 2007. “The music in those films had all these French horns and bugles, clarinets and big timpani drums. I would go to Thom and say, ‘Give me that French horn sound and that big drum sound that goes bom bom bom!’”

This track has been sampled by numerous hip-hop artists, including The Fugees for their hit “Ready or Not” and Missy Elliott for “Sock It 2 Me.”

“Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)”

Songwriters: Thom Bell and William Hart
Released: December 1969
Charts: #10 pop, #3 R&B

Another lovely ballad in the vein of “La-La,” this tune won a Grammy in 1971 for best R&B vocal performance by a duo or group.

R.I.P, William Hart. Thank you for giving us so much timeless soul music. And to the CD junkies reading this, do yourself a favor and buy the excellent box set, Love Train: The Sound of Philadelphia. The 4-CD set contains these three Delfonics hits plus loads of great songs by The O’Jays, The Stylistics, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, and many more.

Please stick & stay for more great Threefers

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