Originally released on Tiger Lily Records in 1976, this album was pressed in very limited numbers and was never available to buy because Tiger Lily was a record label on paper only. Set up by notorious music mogul Morris Levy, Tiger Lily ‘released’ records (often without the consent or knowledge of the artists) and the sole purpose of the label was to act as a tax scam. The idea was that Levy would write off non-existent hundreds of thousands of LPs as unsold, submit a tax loss claim that in turn would help his main label – Roulette Records – remain profitable. To make the scam appear plausible a few dozen copies of each release were run-off.
This is the same label the Jackson Sisters album came from. Sound Of The City was elusive and much sought after for years I heard a rumour back in 2004 that a Japanese collector paid 1000.00 USD for a mint copy of the original Tiger Lily release.
A1 Gettin’ Down 4:09
A2 Through No Fault Of Our Own 3:33
A3 It’s So Wonderful Baby / Gina 6:03
A4 Come On And Stay With Me 3:32
A5 Stuff N’ Thing 2:49
B1 Keep On Keepin’ On 3:02
B2 Babylon 2:38
B3 Reality 2:21
B4 Judgement Day 2:56
B5 My People 2:35
By Lost and found
Regardless of its history, this is at times an extraordinarily good album that encapsulates the sound of late sixties US soul, early seventies Modern Soul, funk and disco and it would more than likely have been a success had it been afforded a proper release. Although most of the vocal duties are undertaken by women, the cover is misleading – Sounds Of The City were not a girl vocal group – instead they were a well drilled mostly all male band that had been together for a few years when the offer from Levy came along. They had enough music recorded to fill an album when they cut the deal and according to band leader Mario Sprouse, they knew exactly what they were signing-up to and intended to use the LP as a “calling card” to get gigs and to attract interest from genuine labels.
The musicianship throughout is faultless and there are some really tight grooves and ear-catching arrangements and vocals. Album opener ‘Getting Down‘ is all choppy rhythm guitars and horns and sounds like it could’ve been lifted straight from a Blaxploitation soundtrack. ‘Through No Fault of Our Own’ is a sublime slow-tempo doo-wop inspired track featuring gorgeous female vocals and ‘It’s So Wonderful Baby / Gina’ is perfect Salsa disco. ‘Judgement Day’ is three minutes of chaotic funk and ‘Come and Stay With Me’ is silky smooth soul.