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After minor chart success, the O'Jays had considered calling it quits before Leon Huff and Kenneth Gamble revived their career with chart-topping hits. (Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images)

Forty Years of Philadelphia Sound

Songwriters Leon Huff and Kenneth Gamble composed tunes with political messages for chart-toppers like the O’Jays and Billy Paul

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The duo still occasionally gets together to write. And advertisers keep knocking to use their songs, as exemplified by the ubiquitous Coors Light spots using “Love Train”. Hip-hop artists are fond of sampling PIR tunes, keeping the royalties flowing. (Sony Legacy and PIR released a four-disc boxed set, Love Train: The Sound of Philadelphia in 2008).

Gamble notes there’s still conflict raging in some of the countries listed in “Love Train” nearly 40 years ago. “I think it’s even more relevant today than it was then,” he says. “Those songs turned out to be anthems. We were talking about our feelings, but evidently they were the feelings of millions of people all over the world.”

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About Jim Morrison
Jim Morrison

Jim Morrison is a freelance writer whose stories, reported from two dozen countries, have appeared in numerous publications including Smithsonian.com, the New York Times, and National Wildlife.

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