Ten Percent album cover
Ten Percent

Double Exposure

Salsoul Records

Arguably the finest ’70s Philly soul group to never cut a single under the aegis of Thom Bell or Gamble & Huff, Double Exposure might’ve suffered for it on the mainstream charts but never fell short when it came to performance. The vocal quartet — Leonard “Butch” Davis, Joe Harris, Charles Whittington, and Jimmy Williams — were finely-honed group-soul vets who sounded primed to be Salsoul’s equivalent of the O’Jays, and even thought Ten Percent is more historically notable than it was commercially, it can stand toe-to-toe with the mid-decade likes of Family Reunion or Survival. Granted, the message in their music isn’t always optimistic; the bootstrap lecture of “Everyman” must’ve sounded like tough-love scolding during an inflation-wracked 1976, to say nothing of how it comes across now. But hell, better it comes from a bottom-heavy disco-soul groove than some TikTok hustle-culture vulture, at least — and they’re a lot more generous when it comes to romance, taking affection as the best compensation on “My Love Is Free” and choosing rare but simple pleasures over unattainable standards on the immortal “Ten Percent.” That latter song’s what made them a part of disco history, with Walter Gibbons’ 12" mix becoming in-demand enough to both make that emerging vinyl format commercially viable, and prove the value of the extended DJ mix concept to a skeptical industry. (It also proved what different worlds the radio and the disco were inhabiting: it didn’t even make Top 50 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it hit #2 on the club charts.) Their uptempo cuts are so emblematic of everything that made the Philly soul-to-disco continuum so deep and rich that it’s easy to forget they’re fine balladeers, too — “Gonna Give My Love Away,” “Just Can’t Say Hello,” and “Pick Me” are all strong evidence of that.

Nate Patrin

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