"What do you call a group of people without a leader?" Thom Bell asks.
He doesn't wait for the answer. "A mob."
Next question: "What do you call a group of people with a leader? A herd. We were a herd, and he was our leader."
With Leon Huff nodding in agreement, he points at Kenny Gamble, sitting across the table at the Philadelphia International Records offices on South Broad Street.
The Mighty Three - that's the name of their publishing company, with three elephants on the logo because, Bell says, "you never forget our tunes" - got together late last month to talk about their Sound of Philadelphia legacy. My story about that meeting of the musical minds is in the Sunday Inquirer and here.
To go with it, I put together a Thom Bell playlist, consisting of songs the Jamaican-born, West Philadelphia-raised musician co-wrote and produced with the groups he is most closely associated with, like the Delfonics, Stylistics and Spinners; tunes he did arrangements for like The O'Jays' "Back Stabbers" and Three Degrees' "When Will I See You Again"; and also acts he's collaborated with who are not so closely associated with TSOP, such as Elton John, David Byrne and Nikki Jean.
Listen to the Spotify playlist below.