Wednesday, February 16, 2011


The Epsilons formed as teenagers in Philadelphia, PA, an early member was a guy name Roame, who has carved a successful career playing congas and singing with Maze. The group got a huge break via a two-year tour with Otis Redding; Arthur Conley was also a member of the troupe, his smash "Sweet Soul Music," featured the Epsilons, uncredited, on backing vocals. The quintet now consisted of John Whitehead(Roame's cousin), Gene McFadden, Allen Beatty, Lloyd Parks, and James Knight. Parks cut his teeth with the Emanons, whose recordings included "One Heart," on Phila of Soul Records in 1968.

With Reddings' help, their first single appeared on Stax Records via a master purchase deal. Listening to The Echo, released December 1968, you'd never think the group was from Philadelphia, the harmony was beautiful, full and vibrant like the Intruders, but the rough, effective "Big O" inspired lead was pure southern soul. Stax did little to promote the record which died unceremoniously. Otis Redding's tragic end devastated the Epsilons' career and they migrated back to Philadelphia where Parks joined the Broadway Express, who recorded a few singles on local Philly labels.

Minus Parks, McFadden & Whitehead renamed the Epsilons, Talk of the Town, and inked a deal with North Bay Records who issued two non selling singles: "Little Bit Of Your Lovin'," in 1971 and "Don't Be So Mean," in 1972. Kenny Gamble wanted McFadden & Whitehead for their songwriting skills and the records were pacifiers til the time they could split them from the group. Their next single "Super Groover (All Night Mover)," appeared on Gamble Records in 1973; however, McFadden & Whitehead were salivating about "Backstabbers," the hit they wrote for the O'Jays, and busied themselves with other writing and producing projects.

Two more singles, and an album found homes on TSOP Records (The Sound of Philadelphia): a two-part groove called "Bumpin' Boogie," in 1974, and "I Apologize," in 1975, neither it nor the singles did anything and lack of income force them to disband. McFadden and Whitehead, however, kept writing hit after hit for nearly everybody at Philadelphia International Records. Former Epsilon, Lloyd Parkes left Broadway Express to become one of Harold Melvin's Bluenotes; that's Parkes howling falsetto on "I Miss You," one of the few times a Blue Note, other than Harold Melvin, Teddy Pendergrass, or Sharon Paige appeared on a Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes' recording; the backing vocals were normally done by Melvin, Pendergrass, Paige, and Kenny Gamble. McFadden & Whitehead wanted to record again but Gamble always nixed the idea deeming them too valuable as songwriters. When Gamble finally relented, they scored a #1 R&B hit with "Ain't No Stopping Us Now," the summer of 1979. McFadden and Whitehead continue to write and produce but rarely together anymore.


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