Old/New Albums: Teddy Pendergrass’ Self-Titled

teddyI wish I liked this album more than I do.

Teddy Pendergrass was released in 1977, six months before the soundtrack to Saturday Night Live came out and disco’s global domination was complete. I’d classify this album as R&B/Soul, but you can hear some major disco elements seeping in around the edges, something that would color Pendergrass’ follow-up albums even more so.

After giving this album some time to simmer, I just didn’t find myself grabbed by the hooks. There are some alright hooks sprinkled throughout, but they all seem pretty heavily flavored by the disco sound, lots of grand, orchestral string arrangements, quickly syncopated drum rhythms, the Nile Rodgers-esque guitar strum. It all kind of blends together into a mash for me.

And there are a few stand out problems that kind of turned me off. First, you run into quite a few writing cliches throughout. The second line of the entire album is “anywhere you go, there you are.” Come on, Teddy. This isn’t the most groundbreaking album in terms of writing quality.

Also, this album suffers from having one vaguely religious song in the midst of a bunch of love songs. Thematically, it sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s not that God songs and love songs can’t coexist on the same album, but it needs to be done with a slightly lighter touch than this album shows.

Even the tune “And If I Had” was a bust for me. I’ve known for awhile that D’Angelo sampled this tune for Voodoo‘s second track, “Devil’s Pie,” and I had my private eye hat on when I first listened to Teddy’s tune, ready to find the sample. After two weeks of listening to this, I couldn’t for the life of me hear it. I figured it was either a very small sample or something that was radically chopped/screwed to sound totally different (if you listen to “Devil’s Pie,” it doesn’t sound at all like the latter). Big props to Adam for finding it for me, turns out it’s the first half second of the song. Just the bass line before any other instruments come in, that was slightly sped up to provide the bass line for “Devil’s Pie.”

Alright, so the sample has been identified, and it’s admittedly awesome to have a direct connection to something D’Angelo used as inspiration and musical foundation for his own album. But unlike Ohio Players’ “Players Balling (Players Doin’ Their Own Thing)” or Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s “Get On The Mic,” the sample used in “And If I Had” is just so minuscule. I don’t listen to this song and feel any direct connection to Voodoo because it’s such a micro sample. It was a bit of a let down after hearing something as drastic as Kool & The Gang’s “Sea Of Tranquility” earlier in this series.

My final conclusion: there just wasn’t anything that really stood out to me. It didn’t even particularly grow on me with continued listens.

Top 3 Tunes:

  1. And If I Had
  2. Easy, Easy, Got To Take It Easy
  3. The More I Get, The More I Want

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