TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)

"TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)" is a 1974 hit recording by MFSB featuring vocals by The Three Degrees. A classic example of the Philadelphia soul genre, it was written by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff as the theme for the American musical television program Soul Train, which specialized in African American musical performers. The single was released on the Philadelphia International label. It was the first television theme song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100,[1] and it is arguably the first disco song to reach that position.

"TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)"
Single by MFSB featuring The Three Degrees
from the album Love is the Message
B-side"Something for Nothing"
ReleasedFebruary 6, 1974 (U.S.)
March 29, 1974 (UK)
GenrePhilly soul, disco
Length3:43 (album cut)
3:29 (single version)
5:48 (12" version)
LabelPhiladelphia International Records
Songwriter(s)Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff
Producer(s)Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff

The song is essentially an instrumental piece, featuring a lush blend of strings and horns in the Philadelphia soul style. There are only two vocal parts to the song: a passage close to the beginning during which The Three Degrees sing "People all over the world!"; and the chorus over the fadeout, "Let's get it on/It's time to get down". The words "People all over the world!" are not heard in the original version. The version heard on Soul Train also had the series title sung over the first four notes of the melody, "Soul Train, Soul Train". This particular version was released on a 1975 Three Degrees album, International.

"TSOP" hit number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1974 and remained there for two weeks, the first television theme song to do so in the history of that chart.[1] It also topped the American R&B chart (for one week) and adult contemporary chart (for two weeks).[2] The Three Degrees would revisit the top of the AC chart later in 1974 with their hit single, "When Will I See You Again".

Don Cornelius, the creator and host of Soul Train, refused to allow any references to the name of the television series when the single was released, leading Gamble and Huff to adopt the alternate title for the release. Cornelius would later admit that not allowing the single to be named Soul Train was a major mistake on his part.[3] (As a result, the Three Degrees' singing of the show's name "Soul Train" during the chorus as heard on the TV version is not heard on the single.)

Although it was rerecorded a number of times for future versions of the show, and various different themes were used during the late 1970s and early 1980s, "TSOP" returned in the late 1980s and remained the theme song for Soul Train through the disco, 1980s R&B, new jack swing, hip-hop, and neo soul eras of black music.

Covers and samplesEdit

"TSOP" was covered by Dexys Midnight Runners and released as a B-side on the 12" version of the "Jackie Wilson Said" single, later issued on the remastered version of the album Too-Rye-Ay. The band also used it to open some of their live shows.

Another remake of the tune was made in 1978 by reggae band Inner Circle, who had a history of covering American soul songs in the laid-back reggae style of the late 1970s.

Two more covers were made in 1987 (by George Duke), and 1999 (by Sampson); both versions would be used as themes for Soul Train. The 1999 theme would be used until Soul Train 's final episode in 2006.

In 1998, German act BMR featuring Dutch singer Felicia Uwaje sampled the single in their song Check It Out.

A similar melody is used in the anime series Haré+Guu.

Uses of the songEdit

The song is played at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia prior to every Phillies home game. The song was also played after Vancouver Whitecaps NASL home games at Empire Stadium in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and after Vancouver 86ers CSL home games in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Pilipinas, Game KNB?, a Philippines game show hosted by actor/politician Edu Manzano, used an adaptation of "TSOP" (Tanya) called "Papayo Yowza" as its theme. The song's opening was also sampled as program identification for all Philadelphia 76ers games broadcast on WCAU-AM in the mid-to-late 1970s and also used as a during timeout and before cut into a commercial break for the CBS Sports coverage of the NBA games in the beginning of the 1975 playoffs until the 1976 finals.

Chart historyEdit


  1. ^ a b Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits. Billboard Books. pp. 438–. ISBN 978-0-8230-7677-2.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1996). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 6th Edition (Billboard Publications)
  3. ^ See the 2009 VH1 documentary Soul Train: The Hippest Trip in America.
  4. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  5. ^ "Austriancharts.at – MFSB feat. The Three Degrees – TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  6. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1974-04-27. Retrieved 2018-05-31.
  7. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1974-05-11. Retrieved 2018-05-31.
  8. ^ "Musicline.de – MFSB feat. The Three Degrees Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  9. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – MFSB feat. The Three Degrees – TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  10. ^ Flavour of New Zealand, 13 July 1974
  11. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website SA Charts 1969 – 1989 Acts (M)". Rock.co.za. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  12. ^ "Swisscharts.com – MFSB feat. The Three Degrees – TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)". Swiss Singles Chart.
  13. ^ "MFSB: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  14. ^ "MFSB Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  15. ^ "MFSB Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  16. ^ "MFSB Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard.
  17. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 Singles, April 27, 1974". Archived from the original on February 21, 2017. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
  18. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  19. ^ Canada, Library and Archives (January 16, 2018). "Image : RPM Weekly".
  20. ^ Musicoutfitters.com
  21. ^ "Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 28, 1974". Archived from the original on October 9, 2016. Retrieved June 2, 2018.