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    Carstarphen, Victor

    Arranger, keyboardist, producer, songwriter, and sometimes engineer and vocalist who was instrumental—pun intended—in the long run of good luck enjoyed by Philly soul in the ‘70s and early ‘80s.

     

    Frequently, his songwriting partners included Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff, Gene McFadden and John Whitehead, or some combination thereof.  All five of them collaborated on “I Will Always Love My Mama”, which was released by The Intruders in 1973.  He was also a member of MFSB (which stands for Mother Father Sister Brother) and they released a pair of albums in the same year, a self-titled affair and Love is the Message.

     

    More often than not, the songwriting team responsible for writing some of the biggest R&B hits of the ‘70s was bifurcated into two camps:  Gamble and Huff on the one hand, Carstarphen, McFadden and Whitehead on the other.  The three of them penned “People Keep Tellin’ Me” on the O’Jays album, Ship Ahoy, another release from a busy 1973.

     

    One of their biggest hits was “Wake Up Everybody”, which Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes took to #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Hot Soul Singles chart in 1976.  It has since been covered by several artists and appeared in a handful of films.

     

    For a generous sampling of Victor’s songwriting acumen, check out Archie Bell & the Drells’ bicentennial release, Where Will You Go When the Party’s Over, a mostly Carstarphen-McFadden-Whitehead-composed album with one he penned himself, “On the Road”.

     

    In the mid-‘70s, his production credits really began to accrue, and ranged from Jean Carn’s eponymous LP to MFSB’s Summertime to The O’JaysMessage in the Music to Archie Bell and the DrellsHard Not to Like It.  Again, about half of the Drells album featured compositions by the aforementioned triad, and “Glad You Could Make It”, written by Victor alone.

     

    He wore multiple hats on Teddy Pendergrass’s self-titled debut in 1977, co-writing three songs, “Easy, Easy, Got to Take it Easy”, “The More I Get, The More I Want” and “Somebody Told Me”, as well as playing keyboards and producing.  He would fulfill the last two roles on Teddy’s follow-up, Life is a Song Worth Singing, in 1978. 

     

    In 1983, he played piano and synthesizer on Back to Basics by The Temptations, a group with which he would serve in a variety of capacities, including musical director, and programmer and rhythm arranger, as he did on 1984’s Truly for You.  He also co-wrote two of the songs on the album, “My Love is True (Truly for You” and “Set Your Love Right”.  The Temps’ 1987 effort, Together Again, includes “Do You Wanna Go With Me” and “10 x 10”, a pair of tunes co-penned by Victor Carstarphen, Ronald Tyson, and Otis Williams.  In 1991, he acted as arranger, assistant engineer, keyboardist and producer on The Temptations’ Milestone.  He would reunite with The Temptations in 1998, as keyboardist and musical director on their album, Phoenix Rising.

     

    In 2004, he was nominated for a BMI Urban Award, along with Mary Y. Brown, Gene McFadden and John Whitehead for the song “Fabulous”, recorded by Jaheim feat. Tha’ Rayne. 

     

    Babyface returned “Wake Up Everybody” to the Billboard mix in 2004, reaching a modest #119 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, as part of a get-out-the-vote campaign.  The song has since been used in the film Akeelah and the Bee and appeared on The Essential Teddy Pendergrass and The Temptations’ album of covers, Back to Front, in 2007.

     

    Cyndi Lauper recorded “Set Your Heart” for inclusion on her 2008 compact disc, Bring You to the Brink.

     

    Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes recordings

    To Be Free To Be Who We Are (Victor Carstarphen, Gene McFadden, John Whitehead)

    Philadelphia International – SPIR 4909 (UK 45)

     

    Sources:

    1. http://lyricsplayground.com/alpha/songs/i/illalwayslovemymama.shtml
    2. http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/mfsb
    3. http://oldhippierick.blogspot.com/2010/04/mfsb-1973-mother-father-sister-brother.html
    4. http://www.thelyricarchive.com/album/54556/Ship-Ahoy
    5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wake_Up_Everybody_%28song%29
    6. http://www.discogs.com/artist/Victor+Carstarphen
    7. http://www.discogs.com/Archie-Bell-The-Drells-Where-Will-You-Go-When-The-Partys-Over/master/164926
    8. http://www.soulexpress.net/reviews/jeancarn1.htm
    9. http://disco2go.blogspot.com/2007_10_28_archive.html
    10. http://dancemix.blog24.fc2.com/page-1.html
    11. http://www.discogs.com/Archie-Bell-The-Drells-Hard-Not-To-Like-It/release/1302138
    12. http://www.discomusic.com/records-more/12957_0_2_0_C/
    13. http://www.swaptree.com/CD/teddy-pendergrass-teddy-pendergrass/384093/
    14. http://www.soulexpress.net/teddypendergrass_life.htm
    15. http://blog.livedoor.jp/hiroaki0907s/archives/51995193.html
    16. http://www.softshoe-slim.com/lists/t/temptations.html
    17. http://www.answers.com/topic/truly-for-you
    18. http://www.soulandfunkmusic.com/album/the_temptations/together_again
    19. http://www.billboard.com/album/the-temptations/milestone/16828#/album/the-temptations/milestone/16828
    20. http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/store/artist/album/0,,173592,00.html
    21. http://www.renasinakin.com/bio.htm
    22. http://www.bmi.com/press/entry/534588
    23. http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akeelah_and_the_Bee
    24. http://www.cduniverse.com/search/xx/music/pid/7521639/a/Essential+Teddy+Pendergrass.htm
    25. http://www.cmt.com/lyrics/teddy-pendergrass/wake-up-everybody/19747592/lyrics.jhtml
    26. http://espot.wordpress.com/2007/11/04/the-temptations-new-album-back-to-front/
    27. http://www.hitparade.ch/showitem.asp?interpret=Cyndi+Lauper&titel=Set+Your+Heart&cat=s
    28. http://megastore.uol.com.br/acervo/pop/c/cyndi_lauper/bring_ya_to_the_brink/leaf_582490.html
    29. http://www.amazon.com/Lets-Groove-Single-Version/dp/B001IBFXNO

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

       

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     



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