360 Degrees of Billy Paul
|360 Degrees of Billy Paul|
|Studio album by Billy Paul|
|Recorded||1972 at Sigma Sound Studios, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
|Genre||Soul, Philadelphia soul|
|Length||44:45 (original LP)|
|Producer||Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff|
|Billy Paul chronology|
|Robert Christgau||B− |
|Chris Wells Echoes|||
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 number 1 pop and soul single "Me and Mrs. Jones" and its follow-up "Am I Black Enough for You?" which reached number 29 on the soul chart and number 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
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."
During his appearance on Soul Train in October 1972, Paul was asked by host Don Cornelius whether he had a jazz background. Paul used the opportunity to promote 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."
In its November 25, 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."
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."
Joe Marchese of The Second Disc called it "one of the mightiest albums ever produced by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff."
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?"
- "Brown Baby" - (Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff) - 4:41
- "I'm Just a Prisoner" - (Kenny Gamble, Phil Hurtt, Bunny Sigler) - 8:05
- "It's Too Late" - (Carole King, Toni Stern) - 4:39
- "Me and Mrs. Jones" - (Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, Cary Gilbert) - 4:52
- "Am I Black Enough for You?" - (Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff) - 5:22
- "Let's Stay Together" - (Al Green, Al Jackson Jr., Willie Mitchell) - 6:31
- "Your Song" - (Elton John, Bernie Taupin) - 6:36
- "I'm Gonna Make It This Time" - (Jean Lang, Bunny Sigler) - 4:28
- "Me and Mrs. Jones" (Single Version) - 4:45
- "Am I Black Enough for You?" (Single Version) - 3:19
- "Me and Mrs. Jones" (Live Version – from Live in Europe) - 9:04
Note: the last three tracks are from the 2012 CD reissue.
- Billy Paul - Lead and backing vocals
- Bobby Eli, Bunny Sigler, David Bay, Norman Harris, Roland Chambers - Guitar
- Eddie Green, Leon Huff - Piano
- Vincent Montana, Jr. - Vibraphone
- Anthony Jackson, Ron Baker - Bass
- Earl Young, Norman Farrington - Drums
- Don Renaldo - Horns, strings
- Larry Washington - Congas
- Lenny Pakula - Organ
- Carla Benson, Evette Benton, Barbara Ingram - Background vocals
- Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff - Producers
- Joe Tarsia - Engineering
- Ed Lee - Cover design
- Don Hunstein - Front cover photo
- Robert Davis - Back cover photo
|US Billboard Pop Albums||17|
|US Billboard Top Soul Albums||1|
|US R&B/Hip-Hop Catalog Albums (Billboard)||7|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||US
|1972||"Me and Mrs. Jones"||1||1|
|1973||"Am I Black Enough for You?"||79||29|
- Hamilton, Andrew. Billy Paul: 360 Degrees of Billy Paul Review at AllMusic. Retrieved 13 October 2011.
- Christgau, Robert. "360 Degrees of Billy Paul > review". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 2011-11-09.
- Wells, Chris (September 2012). "Review: 360 Degrees of Billy Paul". echoesmagazine.co.uk. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
- Kostić, Borjan. "360 stepeni Bilija Pola". Džuboks (in Serbian) (Belgrade: NIP Dečje Novine) (1 (second series)): 44.
- Bronson, Fred (2003). "The Billboard Book of Number One Hits". Billboard Books. p. 325. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
- McMillian, Stephen (16 March 2015). "Soul Train History Book: Billy Paul". soultrain.com. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
- "Billboard Album Reviews". Billboard Magazine. 25 November 1972. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
- 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.
- "Billy Paul US albums chart history". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
- "Billy Paul US singles chart history". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-10-13.