Friday, February 06, 2009

Missions accomplished

The label of The Delfonics first release brings to mind (obviously!) Man’s endeavours to reach the moon, and this sparked a thought with me recently that their peak activity must have roughly coincided with the Apollo missions. I finally got around to researching this some more yesterday and found that on this day (6th February) 38 years ago Shepard, Mitchell and Mauro were cavorting around the Moon having made Man’s third moon landing in Antares as part of the Apollo 14 mission.

Comparing The Delfonics chart activity with some of the Apollo mission statistics there are indeed a number of similarities, if no exact coincidences. Also, the Apollo missions were usually manned by three astronauts, and of course The Delfonics were a trio.

In the same year – 1966 – as the Apollo space program began The Delfonics launched their first single on the tiny, Calla distributed, Moon Shot label. “He Don’t Really Love You” wasn’t a hit first time around, but following their first hits on Philly Groove – “La-La Means I Love You” and “I’m Sorry” - the retro rockets were fired and it got a reissue, just managing to establish orbit in the US Top 100 in May of ’68. In the December that followed The Delfonics were ascending the US charts with another one of their classic singles “Ready Or Not Here I Come”. At the same time, around the world, people were captivated by images of Borman, Lovell, and Anders orbiting the Moon as part of the Apollo 8 mission. I was 10 years old and glued to the TV when those images were shown and I remember it making a big impression on me. At that time, though, I was completely unaware of The Delfonics despite them also hitting the UK charts with “Ready Or Not”.

Moving forward to 1969 and the historic first moon landing during the Apollo 11 mission was sandwiched between The Delfonics 7th (“Funny Feeling”) and 8th (“You Got Yours And I’ll Get Mine”) US hits. Whilst we were all watching news footage of that third moon landing that I mentioned earlier the powers that be at Philly Groove were probably making the decision on the next Delfonics single. “Hey! Love” was the choice and it would enter the US charts in June of 1971 and peak at #52. I love “Hey! Love”, it has a wonderful dream like air, and you could imagine the lyrics could easily echo the feelings of any of the astronauts as, in their lazy orbit, they gazed out of their space module at the Moon.

There were, not including the catastrophic failed launch of the fourth Apollo mission (now strangely known as Apollo 1), 17 Apollo missions stretching between 1966 and 1972. The Delfonics recording career also started in 1966 and in 1973 “I Don’t Want To Make You Wait” would rack up their 16th US chart entry. It is fair to say The Apollo missions and The Delfonics shared a place in time.

I don’t recall really being aware of The Delfonics at all until some years after their chart activity, and the Apollo missions, had ended. It is possible I had originally dismissed them - at the time I hadn’t developed my sweet soul tooth and just a small exposure to The Stylistics was more than enough for me. In fact it was the soundtrack to Tarantino’s classic film “Jackie Brown” that finally slapped me around the ears and made me sit up and take notice of The Delfonics. Since then I have become a firm fan.

Not so long ago I was lucky enough to pick up a small lot of Delfonics singles for next to nothing that included their Moon Shot release, their second release “You’ve Been Untrue” (the only one on Cameo Parkway as far as I know, and not a hit), and a Bell test press of “I’m Sorry”. For me this little collection, in its way, is every bit as good as a piece of Moon rock.

The Delfonics – He Don’t Really Love You (mp3) 1966

The Delfonics – I Was There (mp3) 1967
(B side of "You've Been Untrue")

The Delfonics – Hey! Love (mp3) 1971

For a fascinating story on how The Delfonics got themselves on wax in the first place with this Moon Shot single have a read of "A House On Fire" (page 52-53) (I must get a copy of this book).I'm guessing Stan Watson's credit on "He Don't Really Love You" was in lieu of a finders fee.

Get some Delfonics in your life with this. A great CD with superb sound quality.


bowlisha1 said...

Thanks Darcy.
The Delfonics hit at the time was a must play often at our every Saturday quarter parties. Our Mom's didn't like us girls going out to house parties (we were 14 and 15). At that time that was the thing house, blue light, basement parties. But, she allowed us to have all the parties we wanted at home. We had a party every week and made money. $0.25 at the door per person. LOL Hey it added up.

Thanks for these rare 45's. Luv your blog and all the info you provide. Much appreciated.

Raggedy said...

I love the Delfonics -- never heard the first two tracks. Thanks for sharing.

Bruce said...

The Delfonics were simply the best...and that's coming from a Philly born and bred FAN!!!!!!! Nice post

Darcy said...

Bowlisha1: That's a great story, thanks for sharing it. It's comments like these that really brighten my day.

Raggedy: Hello! I like your blogs will link them soon.

Bruce: Thanks. I really slept on The Delfonics back in the day, but I've made up for it now. They are great and no mistake.