The Three Degrees
is an American female vocal group, formed in 1963 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although a total of 15 women have been a member over the years, the group has always been a trio.
Helen Scott (1963-66, 1976-present)
Valerie Holiday (1967-present)
Freddie Pool (2011-present)
Fayette Pinkney (1963-1976)
Linda Turner (1963)
Shirley Porter (1963)
Janet Harmon (1963-1967)
Sheila Ferguson (1966-1986)
Sundray Tucker (1967)
Sonia Goring (1967)
Miquel Brown (1986)
Vera Brown (1986-1987)
Rhea Harris (1987-1988)
Victoria Wallace (1988-1989)
Cynthia Garrison (1989-2010)
The current line-up consists of Valerie Holiday, Helen Scott and Freddie Pool. Holiday has been a member since she first joined in 1967, while Scott has been a permanent member since 1976, having previously been in the group from 1963-1966. The group has been most successful in the UK, were they achieved 15 top 60 hit singles between 1974 and 1998.
The original members were Fayette Pinkney, Shirley Porter and Linda Turner. Porter and Turner were soon replaced by Janet Harmon and Helen Scott. From 1967-1976, the line-up was Pinkney, Valerie Holiday and Sheila Ferguson, who would go on to sing lead on most of the groups biggest hits. This line-up was responsible for recording the first three (of seven) UK top 20 hits, including the 1974 single „When Will I See You Again“, which was a huge international hit, peaking at #2 in the US and topping the UK Singles Chart. When Pinkney left the group in 1976, she was replaced by a returning Helen Scott. This line-up had four more UK top twenty hits, including „Woman in Love“, which reached #3 in 1979. Ferguson left for a solo career in 1986.
The groups most stable line-up was from 1989-2010, with Cynthia Garrison joining Holiday and Scott. This trio gave the group their final UK chart entry, reaching #54 in 1998 with a dance cover of „Last Christmas“. Garrison was forced to leave the band at the end of 2010 for health reasons and was replaced by Freddie Pool in 2011.
They released 12 Studio Albums and three Live Albums. I will review their second album, the self titled album „The Three Degree“. It was released in 1973 by their then new label Philadelphia International Records and it was produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.
1. „Dirty Ol‘ Man“ Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff 4:33
2. „Can’t You See What You’re Doing to Me“ Joseph B. Jefferson, Bruce Hawes 2:31
3. „A Woman Needs a Good Man“ Bunny Sigler, Mikki Farrow, Marvin E. Jackson 4:19
4. „When Will I See You Again“ Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff 2:58
5. „I Didn’t Know“ Bunny Sigler, Jean Lang 2:50
6. „I Like Being a Woman“ Joseph B. Jefferson, Bruce Hawes 3:56
7. „If and When“ Joseph B. Jefferson, Bunny Sigler 7:07
8. „Year of Decision“ Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff 2:42
Lineup on this Album:
The Album included three hit singles, „Dirty Ol‘ Man“, a #1 hit single in the Netherlands,“Year Of Decision“ and the UK #1, „When Will I See You Again“.
The album charted at #11 on the UK album chart.
The album was re-issued on CD in 2010, for the first time in the UK, by Big Break Records. This re-issue includes three bonus tracks including a 1977 remix of „Dirty Ol‘ Man“ by Tom Moulton.
Dirty Ol‘ Man
For a man, getting the brush off, never sounded so soulful as in this song. I don`t know if I`m wrong, but I can`t remember a song where woman sing so specific about men being too pushy.
Can’t You See What You’re Doing to Me
This tune has a good vibe and is typical for that period. It is nothing outstanding but still sounds good on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
A Woman Needs a Good Man
You expect a slow ballad and are just enjoying the beautiful harmony the girls are singing. When I first heard this one I thought that it sounded like a nice ballad, but longer I listened to it, the more the song started to fill my soul. It is not a classic ballad as it`s not really an up-tempo song. I find this song very appealing.
When Will I See You Again
Ladies and Gentlemen, here is the evergreen of a life time, fresh and well arranged here shown in a Japanese version*. You can bet the Three Degrees were very successful in Japan as well. And what can I say about this version, these girls could sing. This is what Valerie remembers about their time at Philly International: „The whole Philadelphia Sound was the brainchild of Kenny (Gamble) and Leon (Huff),” Valerie explains. “They wrote and produced most of the hits…Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, the O’Jays, Billy Paul, the Intruders. In all honesty, we weren’t aware of the potential of the label when we first signed but at our first session with them, we felt the magic. It was different from anything we had ever experienced before. “To be perfectly honest, I didn’t hear “When Will I See You Again”! We had released “Dirty Ol’ Man” as the first single and, to me, it was just another track on the album! I really wasn’t knowledgeable enough to be a good judge. “I was very disappointed when we left the label. I thought that Kenny and Leon were the best writers and producers we had ever worked with. I liked their work and I liked working with them. To this day, Richard Barrett has never explained why we left!”
*Back in 1974 The Three Degrees won the 1st price on the Third Annual Tokyo Music Festival with the song 'When will I see you again'. Quite an achievement for Western artists. Because of the success of 'WWISYA' in Japan, they also recorded a Japanese version of the song: 'Tenshi-No Sasayaki'.
I Didn’t Know
Once you hear this one you sure know why it was a well deserved hit back in the days. An up-tempo version is presented here. I`m sure it made many people hit the dance floor.
I Like Being a Woman
A nice song but the weakest on this album. I enjoy the live version better than the studio version. In my opinion it is a good song. And one thing is for sure, back in the days the artists, at least most of them, were singing live and yes, the could sing.
If and When
Here is my personal highlight of the album. I love songs with a big orchestral background partnered with theses voices. What else can a soul fan ask for. I`m even more impressed with this live version as their voices sound even better here.
Year of Decision
This one has been nicely placed after a ballad like „If and When“. This is again a good song, nothing outstanding but it holds the candle high when comparing to today`s releases.
All in all, this album is one of those records, once you heard it, you will remember. It is a great production, features great songs from one of the finest writing teams in music history. These girls had the style and voices to sing their heart out and dance at the same time, while enjoying each second of it.
THE THREE DEGREES LIVE APRIL 5TH 1974 IN THE NETHERLANDS
THE THREE DEGREES
WHEN WILL I SEE YOU AGAIN (3RD ANNUAL TOKYO MUSIC FESTIVAL)
Their 1970 Special
Here is an Interview I did with The Three Degress in 2016 during the 40up Festival in Netherlands
|Wayne A. Dickson||Liner Notes, Reissue Producer, Research|
|Colin Elliot||Logo Design|
|Valerie Holiday||Liner Notes|
|Ed Lee||Cover Design|
|MFSB||Musician, Primary Artist|
|The Three Degrees||Featured Artist, Primary Artist|
|1975||The Three Degrees||R&B Albums||33|
|1975||The Three Degrees||The Billboard 200||28|
The Three Degrees
The Three Degrees
Sony Music Entertainment
The Three Degrees