Hump Day Slow Jam of the Week: Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes featuring Teddy Pendergrass, "If You Don't Know Me by Now"

Jan 14, 2009 at 2:44 pm
The Singers: Harold Melvin got top billing with the Blue Notes, but the quintet is best remembered as the proving ground for Teddy Pendergrass, whose raspy, unbound voice was supported by the act's velvet harmonies. Pendergrass took the lead on today's slow jam and on "The Love I Lost," another classic Gamble & Huff production from the group's time on Philadelphia International Records. Pendergrass went on to larger fame as a solo artist before retiring from the music business a few years ago.


The Song: Most Gamble & Huff songs are defined by the mix of smooth soul and glossy, big-budget production, complete with disco strings and orchestra-worthy horn sections. And while strings usher in the beginning of "If You Don't Know Me by Now," there's a palpable sorrow in the song that transcends the instrumentation: It's a song about doubt and the subtle dissolution of a relationship, and Pendergrass' pathos sends it straight to the heart. The song went to number one in the R&B charts and number three in the pop charts.

The Video: No decent live video of the song appears to exist on YouTube, so enjoy the still-screen shot of the tuxedoed Blue Notes.

Hipster Cachet: The song returned to the charts in 1989 with Simply Red's version of the song. While the anitseptic '80s production and singer Mick Hucknell's blue-eyed soul vocals can't hold a candle to the original, Gamble & Huff's lyrics are hard to snuff out. View the clip below.