Where the Philly Legacy Lives On
The master recordings of albums that Philadelphia International Records released prior to 1975 are today owned by Sony BMG and marketed by its Legacy Recordings label.The master recordings of albums that Philadelphia International Records released prior to 1975 are today owned by Sony BMG and marketed by its Legacy Recordings label. Legacy has worked with PIR and Gamble-Huff Music to digitize the original recordings and make them available through a reissue program.
One of the most ambitious projects released through that partnership was the now out-of-print 1997 boxed set "The Philly Sound: Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff & the Story of Brotherly Love (1966-1976)," which compiled nearly 50 recordings from the label's '70s heyday as well as recordings of tunes that the pair wrote.
Although Sony BMG's vaults include just five years of PIR's output, those years produced the bulk of the label's hits. The O'Jays released six albums on the label during that time, including the timeless "Ship's Ahoy" and "Message in the Music." Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes released five albums, including "To Be True" and "Wake Up Everybody." Billy Paul, who stayed on the label until the '80s, recorded five albums on PIR through 1975, including "360 Degrees of Billy Paul."
Later PIR masters are owned by Gamble & Huff and distributed through Demon Music, which handles the European market.
In addition to the aforementioned acts, PIR hitmakers whose albums are available on Legacy releases include MSFB, the Intruders and the Ebonys.