Song Of The Day 4/19/2016: Blue Magic – “Haunted (By Your Love)”

The Randomizer – Blue Magic was one of the stranger vocal groups to emerge from the Philadelphia soul scene in the '70s. They started having hits in 1974, relatively late in the cycle. Their big one was "Sideshow," a practically funereal ballad depicting the forlorn life of the ghetto as a circus attraction, to be gawked at under glass by partitioned outsiders for fifty cents. The more you think about it the more sinister it gets: Eventually singer Ted Mills' encouragement for you to "Hurry! Hurry!" starts to sound a little sarcastic, and the further away the entitled viewer gets, you miserable jerk. "Sideshow" begat a sequel, "Three Ring Circus," in which the emotional damage is a little muted and isolated to just one lonely man. Again, our hearts are ripped out at the atria, as the cycle continues and we somehow avoid discussing trained elephants. Blue Magic was a little too good at their job -- if Philly soul had a goth component, it would surely be them.

Their ghostly factor was cemented on their third hit album, Thirteen Blue Magic Lane, which dumped the circus motif and went full-on poltergeist. The front cover has a truly disconcerting two-story house bathed in sickly orange light, and on the back cover Blue Magic don't even try for subtlety: They stand in a cemetery, with the gentleman on the far right holding a coffee mug shaped like a skull, and two comparatively comforting white-sheet ghosts lingering in the background. The guy on far left looks quite happy to be there. I have no idea why this disturbs me more than Skinny Puppy artwork, but it does. "Haunted (By Your Love)" is from this session.

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