By 1982, Teddy Pendergrass was riding the success of 5 platinum albums in a row. It was a feat that no other male artists had accomplished by that time. (That may be slightly inaccurate, because Stevie Wonder’s golden period from MUSIC OF MY MIND to HOTTER THAN JULY constituted 7 albums. The problem is Motown did not join the RIAA, the music industry’s association that certified record sales, until the late ‘70s, so his albums were not certified until the mid-‘70s. His golden era began in 1982). That success also allowed him to book dates in London beginning his efforts to become a global superstar.
Teddy had already broken box office records with his “Women Only” tours. Although this date was not billed as a “Women Only” engagement, his audiences were still heavily female. (He may have thought that this was a clever marketing opportunity. However, it intentionally excluded his male fans or, at the very least, made them very uncomfortable to consider attending.) Regardless, he was at the top of his game. Teddy and Marvin Gaye were equally appealing to female audiences. Their more socially- conscious material like “Bad Luck” or “What’s Going On” spoke to their entire fan base.
The Philadelphia International orchestra was as renowned as Motown’s Funk Brothers. They aptly supported Teddy during this tour. This concert was filmed at London’s Hammersmith Odeon. It is a tribute to a completely different time. He did not need pyrotechnics or a lot of production. This was a time before music videos. An artist had to be able to stand and simply wow their audience with their raw talent. Teddy had a lot of that to spare. His set list was comprised almost primarily of ballads. Ballads were his forte though it was undeniable that a song like “Bad Luck”, which stayed atop Billboard’s Dance Chart for an amazing 11 weeks, could also make you want to dance while contemplating the rather serious lyrics.
Pendergrass opens with a medley of some of his uptempo material including “I Don’t Love You Anymore”. It was like he made sure his audiences were heated up before he tore into his classic ballads. The call & response by his female singers was the perfect complement to his sensual, gospel-inflected vocals.
Standouts on this rare performance DVD include “Close The Door” segueing into “Turn Off The Lights”, “You’re My Latest, My Greatest Inspiration” and a rousing cover of the Ashford & Simpson penned, Diana Ross classic, “Reach Out And Touch” (Somebody’s Hand)” closing out the evening.
About the Writer
K. Bonin has worked in the music industry for the last three decades. He describes himself as "a child of Motown and the classic rock era." Having spent the balance of his career at Arista Records, his experience and passion gives him a unique perspective on music and the music industry.