People’s Choice ‘Any Way You Wanna: The Anthology 1971-1981’ 2CD (BBR) 4/5

Philadelphia was world renowned in the 1970s for its distinctive brand of smooth soulful harmonies coupled with jazz instrumental grooves to accompany. However, the funkier sides of the tracks could also be emphasised with panache and People’s Choice were one example of a self-contained group that lasted the distance and scored hits with soul, funk and disco idioms.

This well researched anthology celebrates a decade of the group’s output and reveals how the dancefloor sounds evolved as the 1970s decade progressed. The band had an early hit in 1971 when they signed to Phil-L.A. of Soul and released ‘I Like To Do It’. In contrast to The O’Jays and the smoother Philadelphia International (P.I) sound, People’s Choice aimed squarely at the dancers and they followed up in the same year with ‘Magic’. By 1974 the Philly sound was proving irresistible and the band signed to P.I. off-shoot label TSOP, or The Sound of Philadelphia. From this new collaboration, a rare 45 surfaced, now much prized by collectors, and this was the groovy ‘Love Shop’ with the accompanying ‘Party Is A Groovy Thing’. Disco was starting to take over and the People’s Choice were more than ready to deliver. That came in 1975 in the form of the title track to this anthology and ‘Do It Any Way You Wanna’, which proved to be a major R & B, disco as well as pop hit. It topped the R & B charts and was just outside the top ten of the Billboard pop charts. Furthermore, it was a hit both in the UK and throughout Europe. Finally, the band had established themselves internationally.

Their morphing into a fully fledged disco outfit was accomplished partly with the help of disco remixer par excellence, Tom Moulton, and as a wonderful bonus, the extended Moulton reworking of ‘Do It Any Way You Wanna’ is included here and features one of those trademark extended instrumental intros. An even rarer 12″ is added in ‘Turn Me Loose’ from 1978, and to this classic dancefloor pair can be added ‘Jam Jam (all night long)’, which was simply elongated musical pleasure personified. Tom Moulton produced a final dancefloor smash for the band when they moved to the Casablanca label in 1980 and released ‘You Ought To Be Dancin’. Sadly, the disco bubble had largely burst by then and a further single, ‘Hey Everybody (party hearty)’ on West End pretty much sank without trace. People’s Choice represent a golden era in the history of dance music and for that alone, we should be thankful for their contribution. Colourful illustrations and insightful notes are once again the order of the day.

Tim Stenhouse