Here To Create Music

Leon Huff

Philadelphia International Records / The Right Stuff, 1980

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/08/1999

If you followed the soul scene in the '70s and early '80s, you're aware that the duo of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff were to their scene what the team of Holland-Dozier-Holland were to Motown in the '60s. Working with such groups as The O'Jays, Teddy Pendergrass and others, the songwriting team of Gamble and Huff seemed to be unstoppable. Only when the freight train seemed to slow down a bit did Huff dare to take the step of trying his hand at a solo album - meaning without the help of Gamble or the arrangers who had helped to shape hits for Philadelphia International.

That disc, Here To Create Music, was not the success that one might have expected, but it has turned into not only a cult hit, but also a highly prized collectible. Now, for the first time, the album has been released on CD, presenting a side to the hit-making machine of Philadelphia International that you might not have expected.

With rare exception, the music on this disc is mostly instrumental; any vocals used (as on "Your Body Won't Move, If You Can't Feel The Groove" or "I Ain't Jivin', I'm Jammin'") are secondary to the keyboard work from Huff and the grooves that he strives to lay down in each track.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

If the r&b and soul community would forgive me, one could almost see Here To Create Music as the birth of smooth jazz. The focus of the music is on the groove; the spotlight shines brighter on Huff's keyboard work. There is not a concentrated effort to create music that easily fits into the sound that made Philadelphia International so famous in the '70s - and that could be the reason why this album didn't sell that well in 1980. Quite possibly, the record-buying public wasn't ready for this new innovation.

And while it takes some time to get into this disc (it can't take too much, since the album clocks in at just over 35 minutes for eight songs), Here To Create Music turns out to be a pleasant surprise. Tracks like "No Greater Love" (featuring the harmonica work of Stevie Wonder), "Tasty" and the ballad-like "This One's For Us" all show not only Huff's talents on the keyboard, but his ability to write a song that moves both the heart and the mind.

Like I suggested before, sometimes the vocals tend to get in the way of the grooves. The all-star cast on "Your Body Won't Move, If You Can't Feel The Groove" (featuring Eddie Levert and Walter Williams of The O'Jays, Pendergrass, The Jones Girls and Gene McFadden & John Whitehead) almost creates the illusion that some killer vocal is about to be laid down by Huff - and, sadly, that never happens. It almost would have been better to have let the melody run where it chose, and have let it lead the listener to its own unique place. The same goes for "Tight Money" - but at least with "I Ain't Jivin', I'm Jammin'", the vocals don't come in until near the end.

Here To Create Music seemingly continues to plow its own path, especially with the album closer "Latin Spirit," featuring a groove I haven't heard since the glory days of War. It's sad that the album ends at this point, 'cause that's when I was really starting to get into the grooves that Huff was spinning; another 15 minutes' worth would have been all I'd have asked for.

Huff's only solo venture remains a watermark album to this day, even if many people haven't had the blessing to have heard it. Now that it's on CD, Here To Create Music is readily available for everyone to discover - and if you choose not to, that's your loss.

Rating: B+

User Rating: A-


Comments

Great Review








© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Philadelphia International Records / The Right Stuff, and is used for informational purposes only.