360 Degrees of Billy Paul

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360 Degrees of Billy Paul
360degreesofbillypaul.jpg
Studio album by Billy Paul
Released 1972
Recorded 1972 at Sigma Sound Studios, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Genre Soul
Philadelphia Soul
Length 44:45 (Original LP)
Label Philadelphia International Records KZ 31793
Producer Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff
Billy Paul chronology
Going East
(1971)
360 Degrees of Billy Paul
(1972)
War of the Gods
(1973)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars [1]
Robert Christgau B− [2]
Chris Wells Echoes 3/5 stars [3]
Džuboks (favorable) [4]

360 Degrees Of Billy Paul is an album by soul singer Billy Paul. It was produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff and arranged by Bobby Martin, Lenny Pakula and Norman Harris. Released in 1972, it includes the Grammy Award winning #1 pop and soul single "Me and Mrs. Jones" and its follow-up "Am I Black Enough for You?" which reached #29 on the soul chart and #79 on the pop chart. The album was expanded and remastered by Big Break Records for compact disc in 2012 with three bonus tracks, new liner notes by Andy Kellman, and new quotes from Billy Paul.

Release and Critical reception[edit]

The cell is cold as hell
You'll never get use to the smell
My bed is hard as wood
I got to fight to keep my manhood

-Lyrics from "I'm Just a Prisoner"

The LP's original liner notes were written by Louise Williams from WDAS (AM) Radio: "A star is someone very special, talented, warm, human and personal and an outstanding performer. In the lineup of stars, Billy Paul was rejected because he is super warm, super human, super personal and a super performer; in short, Billy Paul is a super star. If you haven't discovered him yet, you will whenever you listen to this album, especially the selection "Me and Mrs. Jones" - and don't forget I told you so." Kenny Gamble was similarly enthusiastic in discussing how Paul's sound developed over the years from the early club jazz of Feelin' Good at the Cadillac Club (1968) to the merging of jazz and soul on Going East (1971): "and then we did Billy's 360 Degrees album and it all came together with "Me & Mrs. Jones."[5]

During his appearance on Soul Train in October 1972, Paul was asked by host Don Cornelius whether he had a jazz background. Billy used the opportunity to plug his new album and highlight its diverse styles: “That's very correct. I've been singing since I was 11. At 16 I was working with Charlie Parker. He's one of the giants. Coming from a jazz background it was one of the greatest things to happen for any singer because of the fact I took an interest at heart but learned to build on it. When I say that I just didn't want to be labeled as a jazz singer but like my new album, the one that "Me & Mrs. Jones" is on, it's called 360 Degrees of Billy Paul and that means I'm covering all of the territories."[6]

In its 25 November 1972 issue, Billboard wrote: "Billy Paul, already a giant in the jazz field has exploded into an even greater soul and pop star via his single "Me and Mrs. Jones" spotlighted in this delightful package. Other standouts in this Gamble-Huff production are "Brown Baby," "Am I Black Enough for You" and Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" all making this a winner in the pop, soul and jazz markets."[7]

Andrew Hamilton of Allmusic noted the album's decided shift in Paul's musical direction: "Paul's first album for Philadelphia International was straight club jazz; sales were slow. This time, Gamble & Huff gave Paul material strong enough to make his sophomore release a viable commercial entity."[1]

Joe Marchese of The Second Disc called it "one of the mightiest albums ever produced by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff."[8]

Chris Wells of Echoes said: "This 1972 set is the first Billy Paul album that most people heard, it being the one that produced Me & Mrs. Jones as lead single. It's amongst his best too, for it also includes the superb mid-tempo Philly roller Brown Baby, a tribute to the kids who took part in the civil rights marches, the eight-minute epic I'm Just A Prioner, a Gamble-Sigler-Hurtt song that Billy confesses reminded him of a stretch behind bars his step-dad did, and the funky follow-up to Mrs Jones, Am I Black Enough For You?".[3]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Brown Baby" - (Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff) - 4:41
  2. "I'm Just a Prisoner" - (Kenny Gamble, Phil Hurtt, Bunny Sigler) - 8:05
  3. "It's Too Late" - (Carole King, Toni Stern) - 4:39
  4. "Me and Mrs. Jones" - (Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, Cary Gilbert) - 4:52
  5. "Am I Black Enough for You?" - (Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff) - 5:22
  6. "Let's Stay Together" - (Al Green, Al Jackson Jr., Willie Mitchell) - 6:31
  7. "Your Song" - (Elton John, Bernie Taupin) - 6:36
  8. "I'm Gonna Make It This Time" - (Jean Lang, Bunny Sigler) - 4:28
  9. "Me and Mrs. Jones" (Single Version) - 4:45
  10. "Am I Black Enough for You?" (Single Version) - 3:19
  11. "Me and Mrs. Jones" (Live Version – from Live in Europe) - 9:04

Note: the last three tracks are from the 2012 CD reissue

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Albums

Chart (1973) Peak
position
Billboard Pop Albums[9] 17
Billboard Top Soul Albums[9] 1

Singles

Year Single Chart positions[10]
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 US
Soul
1972 "Me and Mrs. Jones" 1 1
1973 "Am I Black Enough for You?" 79 29

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Hamilton, Andrew. Billy Paul: 360 Degrees of Billy Paul Review at AllMusic. Retrieved 13 October 2011.
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert. "360 Degrees of Billy Paul > review". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 2011-11-09. 
  3. ^ a b Wells, Chris (September 2012). "Review: 360 Degrees of Billy Paul". echoesmagazine.co.uk. Retrieved 29 May 2015. 
  4. ^ Kostić, Borjan. "360 stepeni Bilija Pola". Džuboks (in Serbian) (Belgrade: NIP Dečje Novine) (1 (second series)): 44. 
  5. ^ Bronson, Fred (2003). "The Billboard Book of Number One Hits". Billboard Books. p. 325. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  6. ^ McMillian, Stephen. "Soul Train History Book: Billy Paul date=16 March 2015". soultrain.com. Retrieved 29 May 2015. 
  7. ^ "Billboard Album Reviews". Billboard Magazine. 25 November 1972. Retrieved 29 May 2015. 
  8. ^ Marchese, Joe (5 September 2012). "He and Mrs. Jones: Billy Paul and Big Break Records Have a Thing Going On with 360 Degrees Reissue". theseconddisc.com. Retrieved 29 May 2015. 
  9. ^ a b "Billy Paul US albums chart history". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  10. ^ "Billy Paul US singles chart history". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 

External links[edit]