Philadelphia’s Rebirth Begins Here

WCAU, one of Philadelphia’s earliest radio stations (first broadcast:  May 22, 1922), couldn’t sit idly by and allow Philadelphia’s less-than-stellar reputation go unchallenged — so it went on the offensive.  The result:  Just a Philadelphia Minute.

Philadelphia LP-x

WCAU, “a CBS-owned station – represented nationally by CBS Radio Spot Sales,” produced this collection of 60-second spots that were created by a number of top Philadelphia advertising agencies.  Incredibly enough, no information whatsoever can be found on the Internet about this historic effort to rebrand the City of Philadephia — I can only guess that this album was issued sometime in the 1970s.  The text on the back cover is priceless:

Just a Philadelphia Minute is in itself an end, and a beginning.

An end to Philadelphia’s dark ages and Chinese wall ugliness.  An end to a city thinking with an inferiority complex.

And a beginning that says Philadelphia doesn’t have to take a back seat to any place.  A beginning that means a new spirit of positive action for Philadelphia.

The committed Philadephia advertising agencies who produced these 60-second spots constitute the beginning.”

My favorite piece on this album is this jaunty musical number — needless to say, it’s the old-timey theater organ that steals the show:

[Pssst: Click the triangle above to play “Philadelphia Is the Greatest Little City in the USA”]

Considerably less effective is this spoken-word radio spot in which the tough-guy announcer appears to berate the listener into appreciating Philadelphia’s charms – or else:

[Pssst: Click the triangle to play “How Long Has It Been Since You Visited Philadelphia?”]

“A Bubble Called You”: No Offense, Philly

Just an hour or so up the interstate from Baltimore resides a prominent metropolitan area that was once the “Rodney Dangerfield” of East Coast cities:  Philadelphia.   Somehow in the course of looking for bowling songs, I chanced upon this curious piece of sunshine pop – “A Bubble Called You by the Alan Copeland Conspiracy – that casts a rain cloud over Baltimore’s big neighbor to the north:

“A Bubble Called You”      Alan Copeland Conspiracy    1967

“A Bubble Called You” would lead off the second side of Copeland’s 1967 ABC album of the same name (one that includes a cover of The Everly Brothers’ “Bowling Green,” hence the ten-pin connection).  Despite its status as the album’s title track, “A Bubble Called You” would remain, surprisingly enough, under house arrest during its lifetime and not enjoy single release.

Bubble Called YouCopeland, in a playful bid to stoke controversy that might potentially boost sales, would subtitle the album, All Things Considered, I’d Rather Be Here Than in Philadelphia.

Its indignation sufficiently stoked, the City of Brotherly Love would strike back years later with a concerted campaign to bring about “an end to Philadelphia’s dark ages and Chinese Wall ugliness, an end to a city thinking with an inferiority complex” — as we shall see in tomorrow’s post

By the way, before we leave Baltimore behind, I would like to thank another music scholar, Joe Vaccarino – author of Baltimore Sounds – for his generosity of spirit.  Joe’s additions to the “Baltimore in Song” list filled an important chronological gap that has resulted in an impressive 17-year continuous streak between the years 1995-2012.  Thanks also to Geoffrey Himes, whose knowledge of numerous other song titles that reference Baltimore place & street names, sets the stage for a future piece on Mobtown “Honorable Mentions.”